Mark Wonder – Working Wonders
Title: Mark Wonder – Working Wonders
Label: Oneness Records | Format: CD–DR | Street date: June 29, 2012 | Website: Mark Wonder
- Ancients Of Times
- The World Needs Love
- Soul Deep
- My Child
- Guiding Light feat. Sizzla
- Distant Lover
- On This Day
- Woman Of The Nile
- As The World Turns feat. Natural Black
- Fighting Soldiers
- Jah Love Is So Amazing
- Working Wonders
- Freedom Street
- Zion’s Glory
- Send Down The Rain feat. Mikey Melody
Reggae Musik is big and broad and blazin’ hot abroad! Many yard artists find massive success in Europe more so than Jamaica; one of these talents is Mark Wonder. It’s a wonder why this pure Rasta is not a household name, but with his latest, “Working Wonders”, that will all change. This is a handsome effort from Munich’s Oneness Records; well known for productions of the highest order.
Mark Wonder was born Mark Andrew Thompson in Kingston and grew up in Albion, Manchester area. As a youth, he was heavily influenced by the sounds of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and local heroes Dennis Brown and The Heptones to name a few. Abandoning dreams of becoming a horse jockey, he concentrated on singing, taking on the moniker Mark Wonder in honour of his idol, Stevie Wonder. With help from lifelong friend Mikey Melody, he recorded his first singles, “Caution” and “A We Rule” for Black Scorpio. After this crucial exposure to the biz, he worked with small respectable labels like Pow Pow, Bobby Digital and 321 Strong. He made his initial impact at the same time as Luciano and Garnet Silk but didn’t keep the lasting impact that these bredrin did. In 1996, he released his first (ultra rare) album on the now defunct Holland based label Zola and Zola; this release hit big in the European market. Subsequent albums include the classic “Jeremiah”(1999), “Live In Switzerland”(2001) and “Break The Ice”(2005).
By this time, he had garnered nuff raspect to start his own label, “Battle Axe” and released 2007’s “Victory-The Mystery Unfolds”, followed with last year’s successful ‘True Stories Of Mark Wonder” — a collaborative effort with Gentleman, Daddy Rings and Sizzla to name a few. Mr. Wonder has called Switzerland second home for many years now and has bonded many friendships with the Reggae talent inna the area. A European tour featuring Wonder, Admiral Tibet, Elijah Prophet and Uton Green has enabled cult status for Mark in this side of Creation. His manager Milton Moore has focused a lot of work for Mark in Europe due to his ranking. No doubt, this strictly Rasta has nuff raspect in yard, having worked with the best of the best. Good things a gwan for this singer of praises, love and inity.
“Working Wonders” is a prime example of bringing a Roots yard artist to a Reggae strong nation (Germany) and allowing him to shine freely. This has all the elements of a lasting record. Musical backing by members of France’s Dub Inc and Germany’s lion, Gentleman; backing vox by Sister Lou and Jahcoustix and impeccable mixing and production by Oneness Records founder Moritz Korff and all around mastermind Umberto Echo. The players of instruments and technology have concocted a crisp and precise sound to complement Mark’s endlessly joyous voice that is comparable to Garnet Silk and all his own. The album bangs off with Ancients Of Days –the horn section introduces a seriously unique riddim that allows Mark to expertly roam freely. The World Needs Love is satisfying with ethereal backing vox and keyboard riffs that go hand in hand with Mark’s emotional plea for world change. Soul Deep is deep; boasting that “old time riddim” feel with powerful drumming by “Flash” Coppolla and crispy horns by Hannes Herrmann and Fyah — pure blood here. My Child has Aswadesque horns with Mr. Wonder showing off his soulful side; big ups to Sister Lou on this one.
Guiding Light is run of the mill but is saved by the blazin’ fire from Miguel Collins (Sizzla). Distant Lover is radio friendly with some poppy lyrics that can be described as a love song. Conscious vibes come roaring back with On This Day, pure upliftment with some keyboard work that has to be reckoned with. Natural Black is welcome on As The World Turns, he kicks up rumpus in contrast to Mark’s exceedingly high notes; intelligent lyrics though. Fighting Soldiers is spirit evoking –“Voice of Isreal’s Children thru the wind….” with a positively kickin’ track. The standout selection is Jah Love Is So Amazing; his best song since “Rainbow Children”; once again the horn section sends this song to new levels. Freedom Street boasts an authentic funky riddim that proves Mark is a great songwriter that can ride any riddim. The album closes with Send Down The Rain, a duet with close bredrin Mikey Melody. Both singers masterfully embrace this ode to nature but Mr. Melody is the veteran here.
“Working Wonders” will please fans old and new. If a big name label had its way with it, it would be on rotating Radio airplay. This is Mark’s finest effort since “Jeremiah”. The authenticity of his voice combined with the absolute focus of the project crew is attention demanding. Nuff said, this will not change the wheel but has the firmament to be one of the most original releases from 2012 thus far. This reviewer has listened to this disc numerous times and still is finding the intricate riddims and thoughtful vocals to be intoxicating. Selectas, be wise and put this alongside the dubwise.