Reggae Cowboys,
Stone Ranger
(Fifty Fifty, 2003)

Stone Ranger is the third North American release by the Reggae Cowboys. It is reggae music promoted as the classic reggae "one-drop" rhythm with rock 'n' roll, six-string spaghetti-western and island influences, especially calypso, layered on top. The promotion is dead on target and this is exactly what you will hear in this collection of unique, 21st-century reggae.

"Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry has always been one of my favorite songs and I immediately played this version. Wow! Move over, Mr. Berry, because these guys have taken your classic song into a whole new realm of artistic interpretation -- one that just might upstage you. This version is nothing like the original, which as a dance tune of the finest caliber but had no emotional appeal. These guys bring you the emotions and will have you picturing poor little Johnny sitting beside the railroad. It kicks.

"Buckin' Bronco" makes you envision somebody with their thumbs tucked behind their belt buckle doing those deep knee-bending bebops so typical of the cowboy culture. I got right into dancing to this one. "Buckin' Bronco" is a dance and these guys tell you all about how you can forget the tango and electric slide to let your feet do it. The percussion and guitar in this piece are super.

"Night Train" is one smooth flowing, medium-tempo dance song. I love the words. It is my favorite of the collection, barely edging "Johnny B. Goode." I like music that I can dance to and most of this collection is extremely danceable. It is all enjoyable. There was not one selection that I thought was low quality.

These musicians have a knack for timing. I am really impressed with the way they manage to bring the layering together with such precision to the fraction of a beat. It is astounding to hear so many moving parts being right on the mark. These guys are great and I expect to see them moving into the spotlight in the coming years.

The Reggae Cowboys are Stone Ranger (guitars, bass, piano, lead vocals), Click Masta Sync (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), Marshall K Evanson (bass) and Hitman I. Green (drums, train whistle, backing vocals), plus guests.

Stone Ranger is reggae meets the wild, wild west, plus so much more. This is one CD that all reggae followers need to add to their collection. It is unique!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 4 December 2004

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