Music

Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers: Nothing Can Stop Us

The lead singer of the Eternals reprises his deep roots forays with help from the new school.


Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers

Nothing Can Stop Us

Label: Strut
US Release Date: 2013-07-09
UK Release Date: Import
Label website
Amazon
iTunes

Cornell Campbell is part of Jamaica's rich musical history, having been a part of the recording scene since 1956. He is best known for his sweet falsetto, most prominent on his hit with the Eternals "Queen of the Minstrels". This one song has cemented his inclusion into the reggae "hall of fame", as it were, and is arguably more important in the development of roots reggae (especially lovers rock) than the majority of Bob Marley's output at the time. Marley will always be the man who brought Rastafari to the mainstream, but Cornell Campbell should be known as a forefather to the reggae crooners, a la Gregory Isaacs and Prince Lincoln. This falsetto he (still) possesses is a wicked weapon of musical seduction, and it shines beautifully in front of the Soothsayers' sublime contributions. Nothing Can Stop Us brings back the comfort in Campbell's voice by coupling it with the Soothsayers' proper instrumentation and production...all roots.

A good bit of credit needs to be given to the label Strut, and the innovation shown in their "soundclash" series Inspiration Information (Shuggie Otis should be proud). Although the term "soundclash" does apply here by definition, there is no clash whatsoever with the Soothsayers and Campbell. Nothing Can Stop Us delivers cohesion, and a sweet idealism. Jamaica and London have collaborated prolifically in music over the past 60 years give or take, and here's another nod to the notion that music is indeed the universal language. Kudos to ya, Strut. No pond too large.

Some highlights on this essential set include the opener and title cut, which demonstrates the mood of the LP as a whole: energetically gentle. "Conqueror" showcases tact in the use of dub effects while keeping Campbell's vocal phrasing and lyrical content in the lead. Then there's "There's a Fire". This is the tenth cut on the record (and I will say the journey to get to cut ten was immensely enjoyable), and by far the crowning moment of the latter years of Cornell Campbell's career. If one song has the potential to perk up the ears of a few non-reggae appreciators, "There'a a Fire" could be it for 2013, just as "No Woman, No Cry" was it for 1975. If radio would just wake up and smell the Blue Mountain...well, that's a whole other subject meant for another category entirely.

Cornell Campbell will turn 68 this November, and the years are evident in his vocals. The smoothness found in his "Queen of the Minstrels" delivery has been replaced by the rasp of experience, but there's no love lost. If anything, Campbell sounds more assured and proud of this seasoned delivery, and I for one are thrilled with the results. Here's a true reggae statesman and founder taking his place among the masters once again, and here's to the ideal that the surname Campbell bring to mind only this man when uttered in future music circles. With the appearance of this album on store shelves and internet radio playlists worldwide, naming it Nothing Can Stop Us is apt, if not prophetic.

8

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image