Twilight Sound System Presents Cultural Roots Showcase

Opening up with what sounds like a long lost treasure from Black Uhuru’s heyday (Michael Rose’s "Shilling”), Cultural Roots Showcase is a non-stop barnburner from start to finish. Twilight’s Ryan Moore enlists the incomparable vocal talents of singers Michael Rose, Admiral Tibet, Mikey General, Prince Alla and Ranking Joe, plus some of reggae’s usual studio suspects (i.e., Sly Dunbar, Chinna Smith) to create a clutch of cultural reggae tracks bursting with militant Rasta ideology and soaked in sweet, murky dubness. What is on display here is not just the fact that Moore has the ability to entice A-listers into his studio — the vocalists aren’t even the main attraction. Instead, this is a symbiotic relationship between the singers and a producer at the top of his game, one who has the gift of creating fresh riddims in a classic style. To show off Moore’s considerable studio muscle, each track is formatted in the time honoured disco mix tradition, with the dub version integrated at the end of the vocal version. Admiral Tibet’s "Have the Strength” would probably draw dancers to the floor no matter who was behind the board but Moore ensures the song won’t be easily forgotten at the end of the night. Similarly, Prince Alla’s bombshell, "Open up the Gate,” benefits from the drama created by unorthodox techniques such as physical reverb crashes, and all three of Ranking Joe’s selections are driven by simply wicked grooves. (M-)