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Michael Franti and Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers

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Rating: * * *

As always Michael Franti is politically motivated but the musician and poet is also spreading the word of love more than ever on his sixth album with band Spearhead. There's I Got Love For You which bounces along merrily, the party dancehall of Say Hey (I Love You) finds Franti taking on the Jamaican reggae pop style of Ziggy Marley; and the stunning All I Want Is You has a shuddering dub skank and a ghostly riff akin to the Police's Roxanne. It's love, love, love and a long way from the reactionary mood of his former industrial hip-hop bands the Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

Although, as the title suggests All Rebel Rockers isn't all warm fuzzies. The bass-laden stomper Soundsystem, with a tough Clash-like groove and chant of "Let the rhythm hit 'em", is one of the heaviest Spearhead songs yet.

Also on this album, Spearhead's catchy hip-hop and funk standards give way to a reggae and dancehall base with it being recorded in Jamaica by producers Sly & Robbie.

On Rude Boy's Back In Town, a song which almost stops many times thanks to the beautifully lazy beats, he name checks Tame Iti and Tuhoe; there's the lashing beats of A Little Bit of Riddim; and a world music influence on High Low where Franti duets with Congolese singer Marie Daulne from Zap Mama.

Michael Franti & Spearhead play at the Powerstation on October 7 and if All Rebel Rockers is anything to go by it will be a loved up and skanking show.

Scott Kara





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