Mind Control (Bonus Track Version)
Onstage, Bob Marley’s second son, Stephen, seems content to preside over an old-school reggae party, delivering boisterous, roots-heavy sets that mix his originals with a generous supply of his father’s favorites. His sterling re-creation of the classic Marley sound — Bob’s voice and all — is spot-on and spellbinding, if not a bit eerie. On his debut album, however, Stephen Marley broadens his scope, utilizing aspects of roots reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, and contemporary R&B. The opening “Mind Control” stays firmly grounded on roots turf, but “Hey Baby,” featuring rapper Mos Def, has a bit of neo-soul sheen. “Iron Bars” adroitly blends funk, reggae, and hip-hop, while “The Traffic Jam,” with toasting by younger brother Damian “Jr Gong,” is straight dancehall ragga. Marley’s haunting original “Inna Di Red” (with Ben Harper on guitar) and a sharp cover of the Doc Pomus chestnut “Lonely Avenue” stick closer to his father’s style, where Stephen seems most comfortable. Though Mind Control is his first solo effort, Marley has been playing and producing music for most of his life, and while he sometimes drifts too far afield, his ability and assuredness usually save the day.