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Ras Mek Peace
(Before Reverb And Without Delay)
Wild Child!
Midnite - Ras Mek Peace

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Ras Mek Peace personifies the Midnite vibe.  Mastered live to a two-track analog tape, this album was created with no mixing board, filtering, compression, equalization, noise reduction, multitracking or overdubbing of any kind.  

Track List Liner Notes Reviews Buy CD Real Audio Stream
Musicians & Credits

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Musicians - Midnite: Technical Notes: Mastered live to two-track analog tape at 15 ips, 18-42,000 hz (+3db).   Digitized on the Mapleshade custom A/D converter at 2,823 K samples per second.   Minimum miking and minimum-length cabling.  Omega Mikro interconnect: microphone cables by Audioquest and Mapleshade.  No mixing board, filtering, compression, equalization, noise reduction, multitracking or overdubbing.  
Vaughn Benjamin Lead Vocals
Ron Benjamin Keyboards
Joe Straws Bass
Dion Hopkins Drums
Tuff Lion Electric Guitar
Produced by Ron Benjamin
Engineered by Pierre Sprey
Recorded at Maple Shade Studio, 9/99
Cover Art by Daniel Vong & Mike HIlton
Art Direction by Daniel Vong
Photos by Eldon Bladwin

Midnite - Ras Mek Peace Buy CD

Track List:

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VI Reggae is pleased to offer a multimedia presentation of the music and lyrics of Ras Mek Peace.  Watch these presentations, read the lyrics, or just run the music by selecting the appropriate icon.

Multi-Media Lyrics Real Audio

Pagan, Pay Gone

Real Audio

In The Race So Far

Real Audio

Banking In The Pig

Real Audio


Real Audio


Real Audio

Lion Wears The Crown

Real Audio

Natty Watching You

Real Audio

Rasta Man Stand

Real Audio

Love Right (Live Right)

Real Audio

Foolish And The Wise

Real Audio

Album Reviews

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Midnite captures the essential qualities of roots music with their latest album Ras Mek Peace (Before Reverb and Without Delay) released on Mapleshade's Wildchild! label. Reggae - naked and raw is perhaps the best description that can be given to the 60 minutes of superb musical works that can be heard on this album. - More

Worlds Music:
I own over 1000 reggae albums and was very suspicious when handed this LP from a recent reggae fan...truly, how many GREAT AUTHENTIC ROOTS lps have been released since the 70s golden era? That is an album where each track is a gem, from start to finish. - More

Reggae Reviews:
Only one word comes to mind when I listen to Ras Mek Peace: wow.  It is an unadulterated and woefully overlooked classic of modern roots and has immediately become one of my all-time favorites.  As listed on the cover, the subtitle of this album is "Before Reverb & Without Delay," which indicates the simplicity of the recording process -- utilizing only one vocal track and one instrumental track and few if any of the standard engineering techniques that are supposed to make things sound "professional."  - More


More Music From Midnite

Midnite - Ainshant Maps Midnite - Scheme A Things
Midnite - Intense Pressure Midnite - Seek Knowledge Before Vengeance
Midnite - Jubilees Of Zion Midnite - Jubilees Of Zion
Midnite - Ras Mek Peace Midnite - Unpolished

Midnite I Grade
Midnite I Grade - Let Live Midnite I Grade - Vijan
Midnite I Grade - Assini Midnite I Grade - Nemozian Rasta

Branch I
Midnite / Ras L - Full Cup Midnite Branch I - Project III
Midnite Branch I - He Is Jah Midnite Branch I - Geoman
Midnite Branch I - Cipheraw Midnite Branch I - The Cipheraw

Liner Notes

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An Antidote To Bublegum
A little past midnight on a warm end-of-summer night, Ben and Rani dragged me down to the Cafe Bukom in the heart of Adams Morgan, Washington's old melting pot neighborhood.   We could hardly force our way in.  The place was packed with swaying hard-core reggae followers.  Up on the stage, a band was deep into a slow, hypnotically powerful reggae groove.  A tall, slender, lean-muscled singer with nearly waist-length dreads and the deep-set, burning eyes of an Old Testament prophet had jumped down off the stage into the midst of the dancing throng.  With his arms stretched out over their heads, he was calling the Rasta faithful to Jah.

Up on the stage, flashing a brilliant smile, a vigorously-dancing keyboard player was ornamenting the striking, erudite imagery of the singer's lyrics.  Right behind him, a powerful tree-trunk of a man, playing surprisingly few notes on a bass that disappeared in his large hands, was laying down the most granite-solid bass groove I'd ever heard.  Just next to him, a gracefully loose-jointed bone-thin drummer accented that amazing bass groove with an equally spare, powerful snare-tom-and-kick pattern, occasionally punctuated by startling fills on cymbals and toms.

I listened for a minute or so, then turned to Ben and Rani, my music-loving friends who'd insisted I came hear Midnite: "Damn, I've been looking for a reggae band for three years and heard nothing but bubblegum.  This is the band I've been searching for."  

Needless to say, I stayed to the last encore.   When the roar of the faithful had died down, I threaded my way through the crowd to tell the band how much I admired their music and how I wanted to record them. 

Mapleshade Gets Vetted
Two weeks later, about eleven at night, the phone rang.   "Hey, this is Ron, the keyboard player from Midnite.  I'm comin' out.   You'll be there?"

"Sure, Ron."

Half an hour later, Ron breezed in.  With a disarming smile, he said, "I'm here to check you out for Midnite."

We walked into the dimly lit studio.  He took in every detail of our funky-looking, hand-built minimalist electronics and mikes.   He asked a few incisive questions.  I started telling him about our no-time-limits creative approach and our credo of ultra-pure, no-cosmetics, no-reverb, live-to-two-track sound.  He instantly understood the radial artistic implications of our approach. 

We were about ten minutes into this conversation when Ron interjected, "I like the spirit of this place.  We're going to do our project here."

An intense, two-hour conversation ensued, all about things close to our hearts.  We talked about Midnite's hard, then-year road and about Mapleshade's fifteen-year evolution.  He told me about the closeness of the bonds that locked Midnite together.  We compared notes on our struggles to keep the music industry from corrupting our music.  I got a glimpse of the record deals and producer hustles they'd turned down over the years to protect the spirit of Midnite.

An Audiophile Is Born
Little did we know how thoroughly our commitments would be tested.

Our first trial sessions started in January.   From January till June we worked, in session after session, on capturing the band's real sound.  Ron proved to be a discerning, enormously demanding critic of the sound we were laying down.  Midnite's demands for sonic perfection probably stretched me more than any band I've recorded - and I'm grateful for the good things that came out of that.

I remember one early session when I was trying to get the sound of the drums, particularly the impact of the kick drum, just right.  Ron came over to the tape machine, put on my headphones, then handed them to me: "Listen to that bass drum in the room.  Now listen on the 'phones.  The 'phones are not telling the truth, my brother."  He was perfectly right - and far more poetic than most audiophile critics.

Elation And Depression
By June we had made great strides, improving both the Mapleshade electronics and the instruments themselves

On the instrument side, we started with Bosie's drums.  He had the usual over-damped, thuddy-sounding bass drum you find everywhere today.  After lots of half measures, we took out all the stuffing and put the front head back on.  Suddenly we had both impact and resonance.  Tweaking Bosie's cymbal mountings gained us brilliance and shimmer.  Likewise, remounting Ron's keyboards on three-point suspensions unveiled exciting new overtones.  I dismantled and unshielded Tuff Lion's guitar chorus pedal.  The pedal's muddying effect disappeared and T.L.'s extraordinary tone emerged.

Recalibrating the tape machines brought out new warmth.  Trying out some weird new silver double-tube wires gained us a half octave deeper bass.

But, at Ron's insistence, we put the real sweat into improving the way the electric bass sounded in the studio - quite crucial since we weren't using EQ or other cosmetics to band-aid the recorded bass sound.  We went through endless, backbreaking variations of head-amps, speaker cabinets, speaker mountings, wire, speaker placement, you name it.  Session after session we canned because the bass sound wasn't there yet.

At the first session in June, after two hours of setting up some new bass amps and speakers that Tuff Lion brought in, we hit paydirt.   The bass finally had the delicately soft attack, the subterranean sustain that did justice to Joe's unique touch on the bass strings.  By two in the morning we had two heavyhitting takes that were keepers.  So we called it quits, elated at the prospect of laying down another half dozen equally fine tracks on the morrow.

When the band arrived the next night, we fired up the untouched equipment.  The bass sounded muddy; that beautiful earthquake rumble in the sustain was gone.  We labored for two hours - redoing amp settings, tweaking speaker mountings, changing wires - in a desperate attempt to recapture the previous night's superb bass.  To no avail; Jah was not smiling on us.  With heavy hearts we broke down the band's equipment and loaded it back into the van.  It was a crushing disappointment.

Out Of The Jaws Of Defeat
Three weeks later we reconvened, Tuff Lion brought yet another new bass amp.  We set up and, almost immediately, the bass surpassed the first magic night.  The subterranean rumble was back with such a vengeance that every door on the studio's first floor was rattling.  I had to quickly jam every one of them with a wedge.

Everything else fell in line: guitar, drum and keyboard sounded better than ever before.  For the first time, the band was every bit as tight and confident in the studio as they always are on stage.  Vaughn's voice had that powerful, appealing hoarseness that's so much a part of his live performances.  We laid down song after song.  None, even the three new ones written in the studio, needed more than two takes.  Despite heavy fatigue, no one wanted to stop.  Joe finished the last song dead asleep - and never lost his flawless touch on the bass!

By three in the morning Midnite's CD was finished.

Epilogue: Naked In The Sonic Mirror
A month later, Vaughn and I were deep in conversation after a good seafood dinner in a little joint outside Washington.  We'd just spent the day editing the Midnite CD.  It was the first long, non-working conversation I'd had with Vaughn - and it was at least as intense as that two hour dialogue I had with his brother Ron at the outset of our project.

Eventually we got around to reminiscing about our sessions and the unfamiliar new ground all of us were traversing.  Vaughn was trying to make me understand, from the viewpoint of a studio-experienced reggae musician, the culture shock of recording in an environment so bare of all the comforting electronic cosmetics of the standard 48-track studio.  I hadn't realized how much that shock had reshaped Midnite's music until he leaned forward, speaking with sudden intensity:

"I'm telling you, recording that way forced us to hear our music stark naked.  I haven't had to confront myself like that since I was fifteen."

Pierre Sprey
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 



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