by Rick Anderson
There are reggae devotees, and there are reggae purists, and then there are reggae fetishists. The members of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant are reggae fetishists, and it's not just reggae generally to which they're devoted: it's specifically the reggae of the early to mid-'70s, when the grooves were thick, slow, and smoky, the lyrics had dire apocalyptic imprecations, and the mixes were wild and dubbed-up. By definition, a band like this doesn't "progress": it just keeps rolling on, producing music that is meant to sound like it was written and performed 35 years ago. In the case of their sixth album, it also sounds like it was recorded 35 years ago: the tapes were mastered directly to vinyl, which was used as the master recording for the CD release. So there's a warmth and thickness to the sound that complements perfectly, for example, the elastic rocksteady rhythm of "Dillinger" and the glistening guitars and one-drop thump of "Belle Star." (The apparent Western themes of the track names, which also include "Black Bart," "Apache Kid," and "Jesse James," mean nothing, by the way, although they may be meant as a subtle tribute to some of the Upsetters' vintage reggae and rocksteady instrumental albums of the '60s and '70s.) If you liked this band's first five albums, you'll love this one -- and you'll almost certainly love their next five albums as well. Each release finds them digging deeper and deeper into the very same groove. And good for them. One can only hope that the "Volume 1" in the title suggests a dubwise companion to this album in the near future.