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Mr. Anonymous
2
Black Bridge
www.mranonymous.net


Maybe I thought the first Mr. Anonymous record was an anomaly… a development of a weird side-thing that Jeep MacNichol had going. I was most obviously incorrect, and it occurs to me now that Jeep was most probably one hundred percent responsible for everything that made The Samples anything close to reggae. On his latest outing, the incredible Mr. Anonymous 2, MacNichol leaves behind any traces of his wild Boulder roots and falls headlong into the music that lies deep in the heart of Jamaica and the Caribbean, and then steps it up with some remix-style grooves and nearly approaches hip-hop at times.

The album begins with a very nice little jam entitled "Cool Vibe"; acoustic guitar over beautiful drumming and an easy beat that simply screams for warm weather and cold beverages. The song features an appearance by Mega Banton on vocals and makes for a smooth introduction to the greatness that is to come. Ranking Jr. takes vocal duties on "One Pretty Woman", quite possibly my favorite song of the summer, if not one of the best songs of the decade. Ranking Jr.'s toasting is fast and clean, highlighted by a bit of perfectly placed auto-tune robotness and a brilliant poppy groove that captures the spirit of the song, and the beauty of the summer, in a most perfect fashion; the song has a very cinematic air about it, carried along the deliberate drumming, light accent instruments, and heavy effects. Jeep dives into dub on "Pinchers Version" featuring Pinchers on toasting and the heavy, heavy sounds of "Be Honest" with Brando taking vocal duties. "Be Honest" is an edgy dancehall track; vicious toasting along a growling, throbbing beat. Mega Banton reappears on "Blaze Dub", a more musical track with heavily-effected acoustic guitars and switch drumming, carried along by jungle noises, club effects, and epic vocals. The first teaser from the album was the amazing "Discotheque" featuring Afrobot; a light but dancey track with heavily synthesized vocals and absolutely brilliant melodies that feed a rhythm directly to the base of the soul… the feet move and the heart rejoices in the beauty of the feel.

Ranking Roger makes a couple of appearances on the record, the first of which is "Chi Widdley Bup", a very melodic and keyboard-heavy track with disconnected vocals and some cool Ranking Roger toasts thrown in. This track nearly abandons the reggae feel for 4-on-the-floor dance music, but the guitars and vocals keep it pinned back to the vibe. "Senegal To Jupiter" features Afrobot and Boubacar Diabate throwing down some African vibe into an almost light hip-hop track that drops not only magnificent beats, but a plethora of vocoded bits. Ranking Roger takes the lead on the more traditional reggae "Breeze And River", sounding a lot likes his young self from the days of The Beat; the song rolls along beautifully, preaching the gospel of the beauty of the world around us and life. Dave Wakeling joins the robotic Boubacar Diabate for the grooving and epic "Rockin' She Rock". It is always wonderful to hear Wakeling sing, and this throbbing track filled with steel drums, guitars, and an easy Caribbean groove are the perfect backdrop for his contribution. The album wraps up with a great remix of "Chi Widdley Bup" that takes a more direct dance track style and twists it around a deep, heavy dub groove that simply shines.

Jeep has crafted a really fine record with Mr. Anonymous 2, not only creating some memorable reggae-influenced tracks, but also branching out and expanding his own sound tremendously. Some folks from the first Mr. Anonymous record make appearances on this second, and the addition of Ranking Roger is quite something. If only Jeep could get Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger on the same track, we'd all be that much closer to a reunion of the greatest ska/reggae combination of all time.

-Embo Blake

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