Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Urban Jungle
Brinsley Forde
JahSolidRock / Heartbeat Europe
CD / Digital Release
July 1, 2013

Track list
  1. Sodom & Gomorrah
  2. Whispering Tree
  3. She Don't Wanna Try
  4. Baby I Love You Now
  5. Blaze It Up
  6. Million Miles
  7. Chillin' feat. David Hinds
  8. Come Jah Children Come
  9. Shewodun (Misguided)
  10. He Won't Love me
  11. Urban Jungle
  12. One Of Those Days feat. Jah Son
  13. Shed No More
  14. Can't Stop Me Now
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
In the same year (1975) Steel Pulse -- the most successful of all the UK reggae bands of the 1970s -- was founded in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, Brinsley 'Dan' Forde (vocals, guitar), together with George Oban (bass), Courtney Hemmings (keyboards), Donald Griffiths (lead guitars) and Angus 'Drummie Zeb' Gaye (drums/vocals), formed the original line-up of Aswad in the Westbourne Grove area of West London.

During the following 10 years or so, Aswad (despite a few changes in their line-up) were the foremost roots band in the UK, releasing albums like their self-titled debut set, "Hulet", "New Chapter", "Rebel Souls", and "Live & Direct", and repeatedly demonstrating they could also successfully take on the role of a top session band, enhancing their reputation with riddims of the very hardest quality for the Jamaican singers Johnny Osbourne, Michael Palmer and Dennis Brown (think "Promised Land" on the "Love Fire" riddim).

In 1988, the "Distant Thunder" set was released, which was used as a launchpad for a significant stylistic overhaul. The shift to lightweight funk and soul with a strong reggae undertow brought them into pop territory and made them UK Chart stars with first "Don't Turn Around" and then "On And On". They went on the gain more crossover success with glossy lovers tunes like "Next To You" and "Best Of My Love", building a huge following in Japan, where they enjoyed gold and platinum album sales.

In 1996, Brinsley Forde quit the band to concentrate on other things including being one of the radio presenters to open the BBC's first digital station 6 Music with his radio show "Lively Up Yourself" and "Dub Bashment". He could also be heard presenting the radio documentaries "Behind The Smile: The Real Life of Bob Marley" and "Island Rock", the latter to mark the 40th anniversary of Jamaican independence. Occasionally he returned to making music again, both in the studio (with Necessary Mayhem's Curtis Lynch Jr) and on stage (joining Dizzee Rascal on Jools Holland's Later to perform "Can't Tek No More" and reforming Aswad for Island Records' 50th Birthday birthday concert). Currently he's trying to start up a charity project in Uganda to help resettle Kony war victims as well as street kids in Kampala.

In the last two years Brinsley Forde has been working on his much anticipated solo debut album entitled "Urban Jungle", for which he teamed up with Marc Baronner and Manu Genius of Not Easy At All Productions, known from highly acclaimed projects with Chezidek, Apple Gabriel and Earl Sixteen. The albums of the aforementioned artists showed that the Not Easy At All crew perfectly knows how to create a sound and vibe that is tailor-made for the artist in question. And thus we can only conclude that Brinsley Forde made a good choice to collaborate with them. Thus it ain't really surprising that "Urban Jungle" -- a consistent set that features impeccable bass driven riddims, mellifluous vocals, and inspired horns arrangements -- brings back to mind some of the finest and most memorable moments of Aswad. The inspired mixing of Manu Genius shines bright throughout the entire album and also sonically this album is of high quality, which makes it very pleasing to the ear.

Even though the album opener, "Sodom & Gomorrah", has a somewhat pompous sounding intro, it's obvious that this reality tune is worthwhile hearing. The song deals with the fatal incident in Tottenham, North London, that sparked the 2011 riots due to the death of Mark Duggan who was shot by the police. This huge tune, one of the highlights on this album, instantly makes clear that -- vocally and lyrically -- Brinsley Forde is still in real good shape. "Urban Jungle" is full of excellent conscious tunes, as can be experienced when listening to the moving "She Don't Wanna Try", the beautiful sounding "Million Miles" with its strong reality lyrics, and the modest roots & culture tune "Come Jah Children". Also the thought-provoking "Shewodun (Misguided)", the compelling "Urban Jungle", and "Shed No More" can be placed among the best tracks this album has to offer. Don't overlook the herb tune "Blaze It Up" and the collaboration with Steel Pulse's David Hinds entitled "Chillin'" either, as these are truly worth hearing over and over again. The single "Can't Stop Me Now" rounds off this 14 track album in fine style.

Brinsley Forde's long awaited debut album provides nearly non stop entertainment for those seeking well produced reggae music with a contemporary sound and 1970's vibes.