Eyes Open reggae music CD album mp3
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Eyes Open (JohnStone Reggae, 2005)

The Washington, DC area is one of the best places in the US if you're a reggae fan, with acts like Midnite, Soldiers of Jah Army, Carlton Livingston, and Shango Band having taken up residence there at one point or another, not to mention RAS Records, Mt. Nebo Records, and Lion & Fox Studios.  Well, add the band JohnStone to that list.  An active member of the DC reggae scene for several years now, JohnStone spent the past three recording Eyes Open, and the time was well spent.  The care and attention spent is evident in this top-notch showcase of roots reggae.  The international lineup -- including members from Jamaica, Guyana, Ghana, and the US -- blend their respective homeland's influences beautifully, performing roots with touches of soul and occasionally a more up-tempo African twist (as on "The Awakening" and "Celebration").  Lead singer Andre White's vocals are evocative -- a folksy blend of Alpha Blondy and Winston Matthews of Wailing Souls fame -- and the music is rich and heartfelt, with nary a weak track to be found.  Check 'em out at johnstonereggae.com.

Track Listing
1. Eyes Open
2. Strong to Say
3. Awakening
4. Shashamane Land
5. Black Paradise
6. Never Ever
7. Celebration
8. Rain
9. King Jah Jah Sons
10. Shine
Eyes Open
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Eyes Open Dub reggae music CD album mp3
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Eyes Open Dub (JohnStone Reggae, 2005)

If you're a roots fan, changes are you'll enjoy JohnStone's Eyes Open, and if you enjoy Eyes Open, why not pick up the dub?  These tracks are pretty much no-frills, straight-ahead dubs with few bells and whistles, but I suppose the music is good enough on its own that not a lot is needed.  I would've liked to have heard more of lead singer Andre White's engaging voice, but then again, these are "dubs," aren't they?  While Eyes Open Dub stands find on its own, I certainly recommend buying the vocal version as well.

Track Listing
1. Eyes Open
2. Strong to Say
3. Awakening
4. Shashamane Land
5. Black Paradise
6. Never Ever
7. Celebration
8. Rain
9. King Jah Jah Sons
10. Shine
Eyes Open Dub
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Innocent Children reggae music CD album mp3

Innocent Children (JohnStone Reggae, 2007)

After releasing one of the best (and perhaps most overlooked) reggae albums of 2005, JohnStone seeks to make a big splash with the follow-up, seeking the aid of Bambu Station lead singer and all-around musical magician Jalani Horton in recording Innocent Children. Not that they needed the magic touch that the Virgin Islands has produced reggae-wise over the past several years, but recording in that inspirational land certainly didn't hurt. Listening to Innocent Children is like stepping into a time machine and transporting yourself back to the age of classic roots harmony. "Peace and Love and Harmony" and "Clinton's Lament" in particular recall the heyday of Israel Vibration, with rich, layered vocals and a laid-back, rural vibe. The instrumentation is likewise lovely; we get a couple of nice dubs (aided by the mixing of veteran Jim Fox, who has worked with -- you guessed it -- Israel Vibration), plus extended musical riffs such as the jazzy saxophone intro to "Black Spirits Swells." As the name indicates, Innocent Children is topical -- the title track inspired by a news report of children recruited to fight in Haiti -- and often mournful, but the tender "Your Love" and "Doubt" showcase the group's lovers side in fine style. JohnStone is a sure cure for reggae fans lamenting that the music isn't what it used to be. Those of you who didn't pick up their debut should not miss this train again. Buy a ticket for a marvelous ride at johnstonereggae.com.

Track Listing
1. Peace and Love and Harmony
2. Clinton's Lament
3. Innocent Children
4. Black Spirits Swells
5. Your Love
6. Trod Your Own
7. Keep Climbing
8. Weep No More
9. Dub Confidence
10. Doubt
11. Happy Day
12. Wanted
13. Be Thankful
14. Dub Innocent
Innocent Children
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