there has been an abundance of Midnite Branch I, Midnite/I Grade
and even a dub album released during the past 1½ years, "Scheme A Things"
represents Midnites first studio album since the release of Seek Knowledge
Before Vengeance in June of 2002.
Released on the Rastafari record label, Scheme
A Things offers a wide variety of musical styles that has something to please
each listener. The album is bookmarked by Words Ov Right and "Where Are
They Now". The opening track, which features Vaughn Benjamin singing and playing all
musical instruments, has a distinctively Midnite Branch I essence to it. This CD
culminates with "Where Are They Now", a nyahbinghi flavored selection that asks:
"Coming from the numerous of the genome, divided of the ages, diaspora surround.
Who are they now? Where are they now?"
Laced in between these two songs are eight
more songs that run the full gamut from the hearticle sounds of "Babylon Dem
Copy" and "Respek Dem Een" to the big, big sounds on tunes like
"Lianess" and "Bazra".
In the summer of 2002, I was blessed to be
able to attend Midnite concerts in St. Louis and Lincoln, Nebraska. Each night, the band
played a song that I had never heard of before. In St. Louis, Vaughn cried out "In
the prison of etiquette and protocol, I neva born." In the dozens of Midnite concerts
that I have seen since that time, I never heard that song again, which manifests itself on
this album as "Strongly". Although the melody of this song is a little too soft
for my tastes, this selection is still absolutely crucial for the feelings and memories it
evokes within me every time I hear it.
The first 45 minutes of Midnites
musical communion with the people of Lincoln, Nebraska was some of the finest live music I
had ever witnessed in my entire life. They sang a total of five songs during this time,
culminating with "Jah Feed I" which also appears on "Scheme A Things".
This song has been a personal anthem for me during these past two years. "Couldnt
make a dent inna you stash. Still nah let off no cash. World deliverance fighting back. I
kick up dust inna you face, stay back. Whole heap of stringers partial. You cant
uncheck me, crossover what out. Run go monitor your Dow Jones and your Nasdaq. Bun out
from running in the fast lane jah. Jah Rastafari youre good for I. Provide for I.
Jah Feed I."
Although selections like
"Lianess", and "Jahbok Wha Ova Come" will be considered the boom
selections to most listeners, to me, it is songs like "Bazra" the title track
and "Respek Dem Een" that embody the essence Midnite. "In the eyes of
Jah. Look what them a do. What a cold soul, oh lord. Quote the 23rd psalm and
execute, look what them a do."
In listening to "Scheme A
Things" and the companion album "Ainshant Maps"
it is evident that Ron Benjamin has spent that last 18 months perfecting the craft of
getting the most out of Midnites Afrikan Roots Lab
recording studio. The quality of sound on this album, especially the tone of Phillip
Merchants bass lines, are unparalleled in the music industry, which is why "Scheme
A Things" deserves a place in the record collection of roots music lovers
throughout the four corners of the world.
As an ardent Midnite fan, even I have to
admit that their music is at times difficult to fully appreciate (as difficult as, say,
trying to use Spell Check when typing up the track list from one of their albums), and
this seems to be increasingly the case with each album released since the groups
initial three classics. A large part of this
difficulty stems from lead singer Vaughn Benjamins unorthodox rambling,
talky vocals and often barely-there melodies.
However, with some patience, Midnites albums tend to pay off, and for some
listeners, the struggle might actually make the reward even greater. - More
Go to the deepest roots in reggae music those that go
straight back to Africa, and you will find Midnite. This set pulls together all the
various stands that make the band so good. The chanting, the dense rhythms, and most of
all the lyrics - that are full of worldview concepts. - More