Vin Morgan meets Lone Ark - Iroko Showcase Vol. 3: Give Thanks (Iroko Records)

With 'Give Thanks', the third volume in their Iroko showcase series, the French label also finally provided Vin Morgan with a debut album. "Vin who?", you say? Not to worry, even a seasoned reviewer as yours truly had to turn to John Masouri's excellent liner for some more information on the man and his work. As a drummer and keyboardist with Studio One house band-Soul Defenders, Morgan probably played on more Studio One productions than any other musician. Vin can be heard in songs by artists such as Dennis Brown, Burning Spear, Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, Larry Marshall, Cedric 'Im' Brooks and Jackie Mittoo, and after leaving Studio One went on to tour the world with Culture. In fact, Culture front man Joseph Hill, along with Ronald 'Jah Privy' Campbell, Festus Walker and Freddy McKay, also was a member of Soul Defenders for a while (even though that was rather for his abilities as a percussionist). From a musical point of view 'Give Thanks' may not sound really surprising, as the bulk of the riddims on the album were already used for the two previous Iroko Showcase albums (Noel Ellis' 'Zion' and 'Memories' by The Viceroys), but in combination with Vin morgan's great falsetto voice it still results in an absolute gem of an album. It's a complete mystery how a man with such a voice could have ended up with a solo career that sprouted not much more than a few singles for Studio One ('Jah Love' and 'Face Your Trouble'). However, Vin himself remains down to earth: "I've learned to appreciate the things I've got. To understand that I can't be who I'm not, and for this I say ' Give Thanks '!". As was the case with the previous Iroko Showcase releases, 'Give Thanks' once again consists of 6 vocal cuts and as many dubs, but that being said, this time the latter sound more as instrumentals than as actual dub versions. A special mention should definitely go to keyboardists Reuben Telford and Guillaume Mettenier, who gave the instrumental versions an almost Jackie Mittoo-like vibe. Instant classic and just about the best roots album we've had the pleasure listening to in quite some time!

Added: Jun 19, 2017