Michael Rose - Bonanza


rovi.MR0001906244 10/12/99 New

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Review Text Bonanza may share the same title as a Japanese 1992 release, but fans will still need to search out that import, as this is a different set. Not entirely, however -- a clutch of the Nipponese numbers are recut for inclusion here, but this Mach II version boasts a deluge of new tracks as well. This may be one factor in the diversity of the album's sound; the other is the production: Most of the tracks were co-produced by Rose and Heartbeat label head Chris Wilson, the rest by the artist alone. But what's most startling about this set is the clutch of laid-back numbers. "It's Alright" is downright luxuriant, a perfect backing for the song's it's-all-good theme, while even "Whoo-La"'s stripped-down and fractured rhythm can't conceal the song's sweetness, and finds Rose at his most lyrically poetic. "Revolution" is not a call to the barricades, but a warning of what's to come, its Studio One-styled arrangement served up in gentle dancehall style. The gorgeous "Brown Eyes" is even milder, a quietly infectious love song with a sweet melody and easygoing rhythm; here the revolutionary goes lovers rock. "Rock With Somebody" moves into rich R&B territory, a wonderfully smooth party piece; a recut "Ganja Bonanza" is even steamier. The latter's original was a huge dancehall hit in Jamaica, and this new version tosses in a deep funk feel and a simmering, rootsy aura. "Chatto" utilizes a variation of the same rhythm, the perfect template for the singer's heavy-hitting mind-your-own-business lyrics. If ""Ganja"'s retread was superb, his new twist on the Black Uhuru classic "Someone Is Watching" is startling, as Rose takes his paranoia into the dancehalls with a bare-boned arrangement that sweetens the pot whilst simultaneously turning up the heat. "Youths of the Ghetto" simply simmers, the first in a stream of tough dancehall numbers that are all culturally themed. The funky "Give a Little" is the most rhythmically militant of the batch; elsewhere the arrangements meld in rootsy atmospheres, nyabinghi beats, and in the case of "We All Need Love," the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" into the taut mix. As with all of Rose's records, it's difficult to play favorites, and the very diversity of themes and arrangements makes it a futile effort. A fabulous album for any mood or occasion. ~ Jo-Ann Greene"

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