Micheal Franti and Spearhead have always made uplifting music. On All Rebel Rockers, Franti recruited legendary reggae musicians Sly and Robbie (Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh) to produce, and the spiritual declaration and bombastic reggae beats deliver with a solid party album.
“Rude Boys Back in Town” grinds with a slow muted tone, and lush backing vocals provide a lovely echo to Franti’s mostly spoken word delivery. “A little Bit of Riddim” drops bombs with guest vocalist Cherine Anderson pumping the energy through the roof. There has always been a bridge from the hip-hop to the reggae and worldbeat in Spearhead’s music, yet this album finally finds all of the elements needed to push the soul of the music straight to the heart of Kingston.
“All I want Is You” slows things down and offers a more melodic delivery from Franti. Haunting, reverberating vocals pair perfectly with exaggerated guitar lines and a underlying drive from Carl Young’s bass. There is loads of fun to be had with tracks like “Say Hey” and “Soundsystem,” yet the moving moments come from tracks like “I Got Love for You” and “Hey World (Don’t Give Up).”
The message is the same as always for Spearhead, yet the delivery seems to have found a pleasant new road. Manas Itene, Dave Shul, Young and Raleigh J. Neal II make up Spearhead, and they have been playing the hearts out with this band for years. The willingness to move in a different direction, joined by a fleet of other musicians, shows great dedication to the music. They will continue to be the driving force behind Franti’s message, yet they merged so well with the sounds of Sly, Robbie and their crew on All Rebel Rockers. For that, we all were rewarded with possibly the best Spearhead album to date.
All Rebel Rockers is out now on Ant-.