Just for the record: The soul of Jamaica cooked up in a yard


Just for the record: The soul of Jamaica cooked up in a yard

A fortnightly review of music on vinyl

Andrew Donaldson

I don’t know who first dubbed them the Jamaican version of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club, but the description fits Inna de Yard perfectly seeing as this “supergroup” of reggae legends aim to revive a neglected, but nevertheless cherished legacy. United around four principals who were all part of reggae’s heyday – Ken Boothe, Winston McAnuff, Congos founder Cedric Myton and former Sons of Negus member Kiddus I – the group have worked with The Viceroys, a 1970s vocal trio, along with a new generation of younger emerging roots musicians, as a sort of loose ambassadorial collective promoting Jamaica’s greatest cultural export.

Inna de Yard’s “roots revival programme” is a simple but effective one: take the old hits and rerecord them in a stripped-down, laid-back acoustic manner – but do it outdoors on a porch, in the hills around Kingston, and not in a studio. It’s tempting to dismiss projects like this as artifice or novelty, but the results suggest nothing could be further from the truth; if anything, it’s an approach that instills their work with a soulful and organic sense of community that is often lacking in more contemporary Jamaican music. 

The elder statesmen’s breakout came out in 2017 with The Soul of Jamaica (Chapter Two Records). There’s a charming mini-doccie about the making of the album on Facebook that’s worth seeing, and it’s not surprising that the album’s chilling power compelled filmmakers Peter Webber and Gaël Nouaille to document the making of its follow-up, Inna de Yard (Chapter Two Records)...

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