Playtime

David Hillyard And The Rocksteady Seven

ORG Music, 2019

http://www.facebook.com/therocksteady7

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/30/2019

Originally released in 1999 on Hellcat Records, this reissued version of David Hillyard And The Rocksteady Seven comes on vinyl – the first time for this release – and sounds just as relevant as it did when it was originally released two decades ago.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Hillyard has an impressive resume that includes performing with The Slackers, Hepcat, and The Donkey Show, among others. This debut LP with The Rocksteady Seven illustrates the strength of Hillyard's immeasurable talent, as well as that of his band, which includes members of The Slackers, Hepcat, and Lee Scratch Perry.

“Sidney's March” starts the album with horns and keys in a soulful interplay that tips its hat to The Big Easy, and “Hillyard Street” follows with a percussive heavy mixture of cultured rhythms and playful dance sounds.

Moving on, “The Fool,” which is one of the two tracks with singing, finds the listen entering ska sounds where vocals from Greg Lee (Hepcat) add greatly to the impact of the upbeat track. Meanwhile, “Father And Son” recruits a busy display of sublime instrumentation. Side A ends on “Angry Lady,” where spirited vocals from Alex Desert invade the reggae influenced tune.

Side B is equally compelling, with the sparse, low bass sounds of “Ugly Man Blues” that burst into a festive anthem that could soundtrack a street party with its frisky horns, and the laidback, island flavor of “Norwegian Wood,” which is a fun spin on Lennon/McCartney tune. The album ends on “Peace,” where their collective influences collide on the fluent reggae finish.

David Hillyard And The Rocksteady Seven is still at it, most recently releasing The Giver in 2018, but Playtime was their first album and an important piece of history that is thankfully around again. For fans of jazz friendly, world music where rootsy, ska, and Jamaican sounds flow in abundance, this is simply a must hear record.

Rating: B+

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