Temple Gong 2021
Bending the reggae rainbow to his personal shape, Michigan musician still searches for a pot of red, gold and green.
Having co-piloted THE PROCESS for a pair of decades, this denizen of Detroit music scene has finally spread his wings to embark on a sort of a solo flight after the dance around "Who Is That Mad Band?" seemed to have exhausted everyone involved – with a few like-minded spirits for a company. Not that such a course correction changes much in David Asher’s approach to Jamaican riddims he’s been cooking for long yet, save for an occasional misstep, gusto’s dripping off the grooves of his new group’s debut like gravy. One might say there’s a certain lack of fresh material on the album, though, so there’s a challenged for the ensemble – to prove their viability.
Which is why, perhaps, it begins with a telltale choice of covers – THE IMPRESSIONS’ “Keep On Moving” and Gregory Isaacs’ “Give A Hand”: the former once more pouring piano-sprinkled rhythm-and-blues into reggae and the latter reeling in strands of fusion, both caressed by David Ivory’s web-light six strings. Still, this collective radiate the fiercer ire when they tackle social issues on their own terms, as the brass-splashed “47 Shots (The Ballad Of Milton Hall)” and woodwind-drenched “Deputy Dawg And The Marshall” suggest, adding various vocals to the flow, and the epic “There’s A Fire” – picking up where the singer’s previous team’s “Fire Is Burning” left off – scorches just as mercilessly, if bittersweetly.
What the band should have avoided is another take on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – a certain Clapton rendered the Dylan’s classic Caribbean aeons ago, quite successfully – but the short “Keep A Little Faith” shows they can be as briskly spiritual, too, while alternative mixes of “Donkey Jawbone” and soul staple “Love Ballad” display the ensemble’s power in a sparser setting. Barebone or juicy, D.A.B. are on the right track… to a real adventure.