Clinton Fearon – Survival Vibration

by May 6, 2024Artist, Reviews

Clinton Fearon – Survival Vibration

Release Info

Label
Baco Records/Boogie Brown Productions
Format
LP / DR
Street date
May 4, 2024
Contact
Website Artist
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Tracklist

01. Where Do We Go
02. Free People Chant
03. Leggo Babylon
04. Crazy Mixed Up World
05. Positive Minds
06. LOL
07. A We Again
08. Mr Happy Sad
09. Freedom Change
10. Common Sense
11. Champions

Old Fiddle

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American Philosopher and essayist once famously quoted “The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles”. With certainty, I can tell you he meant that literally, as back in the good old 19th century, there weren’t many musical options by which one could analogously make such a statement. Truthfully, I don’t know that I could discern the difference between an old fiddle and a newly crafted one, but his quote rings true when extolling the virtues of music’s tenured veterans. Reggae icon and torchbearer Clinton Fearon, former singer and bass player of the legendary Gladiators, with over 50 years in the game, brings to the masses his latest bestowal, Survival Vibration, a rare all-acoustic effort. Fearon throughout his career has maintained one of the most pristine voices in the genre, and been a staple of pure roots chune, and it’s safe to say he’s hardly lost a step. As for myself, I knew him only through association as a fan of the Gladiators’ music. Timeless songs such as Chatty Chatty Mouth, Get Ready, Rich Man Poor Man and Let Jah Be Praised always rang bells for me, but I had no idea that Fearon was the primary vocalist on these tracks. Filed firmly away in my perpetual “learn something new every day” file, I was curious as to what C.F. would bring to the table, being that he had not been an artist on my radar during my decades of being a reggae fanatic.

Consciousness

Opening the album’s proceedings with Where Do We Go, I seemed to gather just what type of listen I was in for. A toe-tapping minimalist track this is, Fearon settles in comfortably, posing the question literally, to his audience in an attempt to establish what we as a human family are doing with this gift of life. Consciousness has never been at a deficit for this man, and Survival Vibration has it to spare. The Introspection continues with track 2, Free People Chant, a forlorn plea for love and harmony. A powerful song, and through its beauty, it becomes apparent that C.F’s pen game is better than I had previously thought. Lyrically, I haven’t heard an album that prompted so much self-awareness, and emotional inventory in quite some time. If his goal was to make the listener think, then he accomplished that feat easily. Subsequent tracks like Crazy Mixed-up World, Babylon Minds, and A We Again (which literally sounds as if he recorded it in a bird sanctuary) hit the mark, in touching on various themes of righteousness, love, and valuing the time we have on this earth. This album with its bare-bones sound and Fearon’s tremendous singing chops is easy like Sunday morning. Hard to pick a favorite, but Mr. Happy Sad, and the amazing closer Champions are my personal standouts.

Lyrically Solid

In total honesty, I’m not the most ardent fan of acoustic albums. While I appreciate the stripped-down sound and focus on the vocal chops, I’m often bored by efforts like these unless I’m a major fan of the artist in question. I can usually stomach a song or two, (Buju’s Untold Story and Bob Marley’s Redemption Song being two of the ULTIMATE examples of it done to perfection) but I prefer a rich well-produced soundscape from which to enjoy the music, and that’s true of all genres for me. That being said, Survival Vibrations is a nice little departure from the usual. The guitar playing is top-notch, and the perfect vehicle for Fearon’s crisp, and still-strong voice, and as mentioned previously, it’s about as lyrically solid as a roots album can be. Will I grab it again and again for multiple listens? Probably not. His most ardent fans will likely think I’ve lost my mind, and that’s okay. Personally, I’m satisfied and can sleep good at night knowing that real roots reggae music isn’t going anywhere and is in fantastic hands with the likes of Mr. Fearon.

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