Earlier this year we didn't hide our excitement when the Tad's Record label surprised us with the release of the 'World War' EP, a collection of 4 singles Richie Spice recorded in recent years. Disregarding 2012's acoustic 'Soothing Sounds', we already have to go back all the way to 2011 to find Spice's last long player release, but with 'Together We Stand', on the trusted VP Records label, he now finally returns with a new album.
Of course, after such a long absence, the big question is: does Spice still have what it takes? After a short spiritual intro, the album opens with soulful title track 'Together We Stand', originally recorded back in 2005 for producer Clive Hunt, but only released in 2019 and, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, selected not much later as the theme song for the Jamaica Together We Stand Telethon. The telethon was broadcast on Jamaica's national channel TVJ in April of this year, with the proceeds being used to purchase protective clothing and other materials for Jamaica's first-line aid workers.
The track list of 'Together We Stand' lacks a hit tune with the allure of 'Brown Skin', 'Ghetto Girl' or, of course, the unsurpassed 'Earth A Run Red', but Richie Spice continuously manages to maintain a certain level in the songs on this album (the only exception perhaps being the remix version of 'There's A Way', a song that could also be found on the aforementioned 'World War' EP, but here is turned into negligible Latin-pop). There are duets with Chronixx ('Unity We Need'), Kathryn Aria, a singer from Etobicoke, in Ontario, Canada, with whom Spice recorded the somewhat corny sounding 'Beautiful Life', and finally, our personal favorite, the excellent 'Murderer', a combination tune with Dre Island. Another recommendation is 'Valley Of Jehoshaphat (Red Hot)', a revamp of Max Romeo's classic. With 'California' (in which Spice expresses his fondness for Californian weed, suddenly making it all too obvious why one of the nicknames for cannabis is collie), the obvious 'I Use The Herbs' and 'Dabbin'', we get a triptych dedicated to the sacred green herb.
For the uninitiated, the title of the last song may need some explanation though… Dabbing is the act of inhaling vaporized cannabis concentrates through a temperature-specific heating method such as a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer.is the smoking of a super strong weed concentrate. Butane is used to extract s all the active substances from the cannabis, leaving the plant material behind. The result is a honey-like substance with a golden color. You can smoke that waxy stuff by melting it, which is usually done by heating an element or "dab" on a glass pipe with a gas burner.
As the title suggests, 'Mother Nature' is an ode to Mother Nature and 'De Stress' is perhaps the advice we should all follow during this COVID-19 pandemic. Spice concludes with the acoustic nyahbinghi-driven 'Put This In The Schools', perfectly giving voice to one of the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement.
'Together We Stand' is certainly not Richie Spice's most memorable album, but remains a solid effort.