So here we are with Troy’s third instalment of his planned 10|10|10 Series (ten albums in ten genres in ten years). I was fortunate enough to be in the studio when he was recording the mighty ‘Shake Your Skinny Ass All The Way To Zygertron’ which is one of the finest slabs of psychedelic classic funk one is ever likely to come across, and was mightily impressed with the way he works. So now I am faced with the task of reviewing something I am incredibly unqualified to write about, as what we have here is reggae. Even I can hear that this is very much of the Seventies style, but when the label says it is reminiscent of bands such as The Abyssinians, The Upsetters and The Congos I must confess to not knowing any of their music so will have to go with the flow.
But, I do know what I like, and I like this. Yes, producer TeMatera Smith is a close friend of mine, but I wouldn’t let that stop me ripping this to pieces. Outside New Zealand Troy is probably best known for his acting, playing the part of TK in ‘Hunt For The WIlderpeople’, but here in Aotearoa he is a singer and musician. Last year he won both the Te Māngai Pāho Best Māori Artist and Best Soul/R&B Artist at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, as well as winning the Best Māori Pop Album at the Waiata Maori Music Awards, and he has been nominated for more this, with the album resulting in a sellout tour. This is a very political album, reaching into the often-ignored world of Indigenous politics, namely colonisation and its (c)rippling effects on today’s social climate. Depending on your heritage, you will view the arrival of colonisers such as Captain Cook very differently indeed. Troy sees him as a “Mighty Invader”, with lyrics such as “They wanna trade everything that I own for these blue beads.
What can I do with a Blanket Flu Captain?”
But this isn’t just about New Zealand, there are spoken words in Maori, Spanish, West Papua, Indonesian, Aboriginal, Solomon Islands, Iranian and English. But all the politics and thought-provoking lyrics are wrapped up inside infectious melodies, with some stunning basslines, great brass, and wonderful harmony vocals. The first time I heard this I was sat in Red Room Studios, as TeMatera was playing me bits and pieces of the initial masters to get my opinion, and he sat there with a stupid big grin on his face the whole time, as he knew this was nailed. And he’s right. I can’t see me throwing away all my Megadeth albums and switching to Marley, but this album is something very special indeed.