World Music News Wire #22
Keith Richards’ tribute to his decades-long friendship with legendary ska and reggae singer Justin Hinds has a new chapter. Produced by Brian Jobson, Wingless Angels II (Mindless Records; preorders: August 1, release: September 23, 2010), is a collection of new recordings featuring Hinds’ last sessions before his passing, and a special re-release of the much-sought-after original album, long out of print.
To honor Hinds’ memory, both albums will be released in a redesigned double CD, complete with lavish liner notes. A deluxe edition, available only at www.winglessangels.com, will include drawings by Richards inspired by his Jamaican friends, and a limited number of copies will be signed by Richards himself. Digital downloads of the albums will be available worldwide from iTunes, Amazon and eMusic.
“I think Nyabinghi music gets as pure a spirit going as you can imagine,” Richards explains. “It’s about uplifting moments where you forget all of the sorrows and cares of the world.”
Richards first encountered this music in the early 1970s on Jamaica’s northern shore, where African diaspora traditions live on. On the beach near Steer Town, one of the first Rastafarian communities in Jamaica, Richards struck up a friendship with Justin Hinds, a central figure in reggae history.
Hinds had already made his reputation as a stellar singer on the Jamaican scene. His classic song “Carry Go Bring Come,” recorded in one take, is often credited with launching the ska sound. Bob Marley is said to have leaped out of his BMW barefoot, just to shake Hinds’ hand and thank him for his music. He was a stunning performer known as much for his kindness of spirit as for his an impressive personal style.
Back home in Steer Town, everyone recalls his unusual generosity, and his calm and uplifting spirit, so much so that local Rastafarian youth often called him “Saint Justin” or “Jesus.”
“When you hear Justin’s voice, you get a nice, warm glow,” Richards mused in a recent interview with reggae researcher and archivist Roger Steffens. “With these recordings, he lives on.”
In the Wingless Angels, Hinds was joined by local fishermen and divers, by friends, neighbors, and relatives who shared his musical and spiritual vision. They made the unprecedented move of bringing their sacred drums to Richards’ home and later into the studio. They encouraged Richards to strum along though instrumental accompaniment was usually prohibited for religious reasons. These gestures and this collaboration are testaments to the deep kinship felt between the musicians.
On Wingless Angels II returning Angels Justin Hinds, Locksley Whitlock, Maureen Fremantle, Warrin Williamson and Milton Beckerd are complimented by producer Brian Jobson on bass, Lee Jaffe on harmonica, Steve Jordan, Bernard Fowler and Lisa Fischer on vocals, Lili Haydn on electric violin, and Keith Richards on guitar, bass and vocals.
A deep sense of the sacred—of joy, light, and hope—defines Wingless Angels. Though many melodies hail from centuries-old Protestant hymns, the music flows from the Rastafarian faith, from the celebrations that transformed three drums of African heritage into a deep and intense exploration of rhythm and the human soul.
“They play deliberately at just slightly under heart rate,” Richards explained to Steffens. “The drumming goes deeper than your bones. It’s marrow music.”
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