New Release Friday: The Temple Rockers – Festival of Lights

Posted by Greg on Oct 19, 2018 in Music |

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With Halloween on the horizon, perhaps it’s safe to say holiday season is here. Or is it? Either way the collective known as The Temple Rockers very much believe October is the time to get started. This eccentric and off-the wall outfit have crafted a Chanukah album in the vein of reggae. If this piques your interest, read on. If it doesn’t read on anyways. After all, being bold deserves recognition. And this zany outfit is most definitely bold.

Festival of Lights is the brainchild of bassist David Solid Gould and is framed by songs featuring vocals from the likes of Linval Thompson, Wayne Jarrett, and Ansel Meditations. Of those vocalist, Thompson shines the brightest as does Meditations. That’s not to take anything away from Jarrett, but his contributions seem to drag the album down. There is not enough oomph, no zest, no sense of urgency at all. That might be his vocal style but for an album about celebration and creativity his cuts tend to weigh the album down.

On the contrary Linval Thompson’s lively vocal on “Spin ‘Dem” and his assured and smooth delivery on “Days Long Ago” linger long after the final second. Meditations is equally as strong with “Who Can Retel?” outshining “Do You Know Why?” but only slightly.

The strongest songs are actually the ones without the guest vocalists. Temple Rockers full-time lead singer, Japanese-American Jewish reggae vocalist Craig Akira Fujita offers his best take on reggae vocals in the shape of “About the Miracles” and one kind of wishes Fujita was showcased more. Ditto for another Temple Rocker.

Gould’s sister Lisa sings gorgeusly on album closer “I Have a Candle” and one wishes she had been featured more. The album also has a handful of instrumentals (album opener “The Blessing” and the innovative “A Lickle Jug”) and each one serves their purpose well. Chanukah is a time of illumination, introspection, celebration and cheer. Both of those instrumentals carry those strands as well as anything else on the album.

Aside from meager and lo-fi production issues, there’s really not much to dislike here. So dive in, spin the dreidel, drink Manischewitz and rent Woody Allen films. Just make sure you spend your weekend with the Temple Rockers.

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