John Brown’s Body: Give Yourself Over

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John Brown's BodyElliot Martin, lead vocalist of the Cambridge based progressive reggae band John Brown’s Body, had some choice words about their musical direction that we’d like to share here:

“I think that the strongest reggae was coming out of the UK in the 70’s and early 80’s,” Elliot explains. “It was the best produced, had the most complex songwriting; it’s the most progressive reggae that’s been made. Steel Pulse, Aswad, Reggae Regular, Misty in Roots, Mikey Dread, Dennis Bovell and Linton Kwesi Johnson were doing groundbreaking stuff. I want to pick up where those artists left off. Of course, we don’t come close to what those artists did, but I think that’s where the idea comes from—that reggae can take other forms. I guess I’m just saying that I see our music as progressive reggae.”

Other artists Elliot listened to extensively–and was influenced by–while writing Amplify include Sigur Ros, Batch, Toumani Diabate, Sly and Robbie, Radiohead, Talib Kweli, Aswad, Funkadelic, King Tubby, Roots Manuva, Masaru Sato and Midnite (whose lead singer, Vaughn Benjamin, lends a vocal to the end of “Speak Of The Devil”). Certainly not the typical play list for a reggae band, but the band’s deep reggae roots are not hard to find amongst all of the other influences.

JBB has has several life changing events the past few years, but the biggest involved Elliot’s voice and threatened the band’s ability to soldier on once more. Fittingly, it was during that same January 2006 tour that Elliot began to notice problems with his vocal strength and endurance; after months of doctor’s visits and vocal training, the problem was finally revealed to be vocal polyps, he found the best medical negligence solicitors and sued his doctors because they did not tell him anything. Elliot not only had surgery in early 2008 to remove them, he also began voice training to teach him to put less strain on his throat. “I feel better every day. Each show back after surgery, I could feel myself getting stronger. Now I think I’m doing things I couldn’t even do before,” Elliot says. “Add that to the energy of the new line-up and this new batch of songs, and we can’t wait to get back on the road. It’s going to be fun!”

“Amplify”, the explosive new studio album from John Brown’s Body, features twelve tracks of drum & bass-heavy, dub-inflected electro grooves that make up the sound JBB is known for, with a forward-thinking, fearless approach to tempos, beats, and feel that expands on what has been brought forth on previous releases.

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AmplifyJohn Brown’s Body
“Give Yourself Over” (mp3)
from “Amplify”
(Easy Star Records)

Buy at Easy Star Records