Philspicks – Morgan Heritage Succeeds Again With ‘Strictly Roots’ Re-Issue
Morgan Heritage took home the Grammy last year for the year’s best new reggae album. Listening through the 13-song record, it is no surprise why the album took the award in the noted category. The songs’ musical arrangements are anything but strictly roots. Sure, there are plenty of throwbacks to reggae’s roots in that record, but there are also plenty of more modern influences present throughout the record. That is one of the aspects that make the album’s recent re-issue stand out. The bonus disc included in the album’s reissue makes it stand out just as much as the main disc. The record’s sequencing, especially in its new re-issue. Each element is important in its own right to Strictly Roots’ recent re-issue. Altogether, they make this record’s second time out even more enjoyable than its first go-round.
“This album clearly signifies that Morgan Heritage doesn’t want to be billed as “just another reggae group.”
Morgan Heritage’s recently re-issued 2015 album Strictly Roots is an enjoyable second helping of the Grammy Award-winning record. It is just as enjoyable for general reggae fans who are unfamiliar with the group’s work as it is for the group’s more seasoned audiences. That is due in part to the presentation of the album’s main disc. All thirteen of the songs featured in the record’s original pressing are also included here. What is interesting about theses songs is that they are a direct contrast to the album’s title. That is made clear through their arrangements. While some of the songs’ arrangements do stay true to reggae’s roots, others feature more modern influences. ‘Light It Up (ft. Jo Mersa Marley)’ is one of those songs whose arrangement exhibits more modern influences. Its arrangement includes some obvious hip-hop and dubstep elements that makes it an instant hit. ‘So Amazing (ft. J Boog, Jemere Morgan & Gil Sharone)’ is another of the record’s songs that features more modern influences. The song’s pop-infused arrangement, with its keyboards and catchy hooks and choruses, makes it an easy fit for any Top 40 Pop radio station’s playlist. Much the same can be said of the disc’s closer, ‘Keep On Jammin (ft. Shaggy).’ The guitar-driven song is more rock than reggae, yet doesn’t shun the group’s reggae roots either. Each song shows in its own way why the mix of modern, mainstream elements into Strictly Roots’ otherwise standard reggae sound makes its main disc so important to the presentation of its re-issue. They aren’t the only songs that stand out, either. ‘We Are Warriors (ft. Bobby Lee of SOJA)’ is another work that stands out in this record thanks to its arrangement. When this and the record’s other modern arrangements are set against the record’s purer reggae arrangements, the whole of the record’s songs makes for a listening experience that will entertain a wide array of audiences. Considering this, the re-issue’s main disc proves, again, to be a key piece of the presentation in its recent re-issue. It is just one key piece of the re-issue’s presentation. The bonus disc included in the record’s re-issue is just as important to note as its main disc.
Strictly Roots’ main disc is just one important piece of its presentation in its recent re-issue. That is because it presents each of the songs included in the record’s original release last year. Those songs feature not just standard reggae arrangements, but also a handful of more modern, mainstream accessible arrangements, too. It is clearly an important piece of the record’s presentation in its new re-issue. It isn’t the only important piece of that presentation. The bonus disc included in the record’s re-issue is just as important to note as the record’s main disc. The bonus disc, which is exclusive to the album’s new re-issue is a seven-song presentation that features four compositions not included in the record’s original presentation and three new re-mixes of ‘Light It Up.’ The four “new” songs were pieces that didn’t make the cut for the album’s original release. So while they aren’t necessarily new per se, they are new in the case that audiences hadn’t been lucky enough to hear them in the record’s first release. Audiences will note that Morgan Heritage presents even more modern influence here in ‘Come Fly (ft. Flogging Molly).’ For those who might not be aware, Flogging Molly is a well-known Celtic rock outfit whose sound is similar in style to that of Dropkick Murphys. The group’s sound takes center stage in this work. It mixes with the group’s reggae sound for another song that stands firmly on its own merits. It serves as one more example, too, of what makes Strictly Roots anything but strictly roots – even in its re-issue.
The final three songs presented in the album’s bonus disc are re-mixes of ‘Light It Up.’ The songs, like the record’s first four tracks, were not included in the album’s original release last year. It goes without saying that each re-worked arrangement of the song stands firm on its own merits. The song’s Silencyde remix leads the way, and justifiably so. It is the strongest of the trio of re-mixes. It takes the dubstep elements infused into the song’s original presentation and steps them up even more along with its hip-hop elements. The song’s Guido Craveiro re-mix comes second in the series. It is more of a strictly hip-hop infused re-mix of the song. Though, there are some dubstep elements infused into its arrangement. The combination of the two elements makes it enjoyable in its own right. When these re-mixes are coupled with the previously unreleased songs they make this addition to Strictly Roots’ original album just as important to the album’s re-issue as the original album. It isn’t the only important piece of the re-issue’s presentation. The album’s sequencing is just as important as the songs presented in either of the discs.
The songs that are presented in both discs of Strictly Roots’ recent re-issue are in themselves a big part of what makes the album so enjoyable. They aren’t just standard reggae roots compositions. They also feature more modern arrangements and elements. The fact that the songs included in the re-issue’s new bonus disc are previously unreleased material, they complete the record and give audiences a full listening experience. The album’s overall sequencing completes that experience. The sequencing of the record’s main disc keep the energy flowing from beginning to end. Audiences will note the songs’ arrangements pick up and pull back at all of the right points. That in itself will keep audiences engaged. The sequencing as it applies to the record’s songs themselves is just as important to note. Audiences will note that the more mainstream songs aren’t all just put together in one string of songs. Rather, they are spread out. This gives audiences something to look forward to with each song’s passing.
The sequencing of the re-issue’s bonus disc is just as important to note as that of its main disc. That is because it stands separate from the sequencing of the main disc. Audiences will note in this disc, that the previously unreleased songs are all grouped together while the remixes make up the second half of the disc. At the same time, the previously unreleased songs do mix up the styles and energy just as much as the songs featured in the album’s lead disc. Keeping that in mind, the album’s sequencing – both in its main and bonus disc – proves to be just as important to the album’s presentation in its new re-issue as the songs themselves. When the songs featured in the album’s main and bonus disc are set against their sequencing, the whole of those elements makes the album’s presentation – and overall listening experience – enjoyable both for reggae fans in general and for the group’s more seasoned audiences.
Morgan Heritage’s recent re-issue of its Grammy Award-winning 2015 album Strictly Rootsis a solid follow-up to its predecessor. It is a record that reggae fans in general will enjoy just as much as the group’s more seasoned audiences. That is exhibited through the record’s primary disc and its newly included bonus disc. The record’s primary disc includes all of the songs featured in the record’s initial disc and present arrangements that are not just “strictly roots.” They present modern, mainstream accessible arrangements as well as traditional reggae arrangements. The first four songs presented in the record’s bonus disc do much the same with their arrangements. They were songs that didn’t make the cut for the album’s original presentation. The disc’s last three songs, re-mixes of ‘Light It Up’ broaden that experience even more. When that wide array of arrangements is set against the songs’ sequencing, the overall effect will certainly keep listeners engaged. Each element is clearly important in its own right, as has already been noted. All things considered, Strictly Roots’ new re-issue is a solid second helping of Morgan Heritage’s most recent studio record. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Strictly Roots’ new re-issue is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news and more at: