The Aggrolites are back with their brew of 60s ska, 70s reggae, and a splash of classic funk. While they emulate one too many Trojan boxsets far too closely and with little modernity, the music generally works very well. No matter what, it’s hard to dislike simple upbeat guitar, melodic organ, and bubbling bass. “By Her Side” is a good example, with a musical accompaniment that could’ve been on an Alton Ellis record.
The lyrics, on the other hand, are terribly corny and borderline embarrassing. I think the music would be better without vocals at all, and that’s evinced by the wonderfully Jackie Mittoo-ish “Musically On Top.”
This is a very full album with 21 tracks, so there is plenty of good here. Besides already mentioned, “Reggae Summertime” is a fun one, and “Find Someone Better” is probably the best example of James Brown-style soul/funk done really well.
Unfortunately, there’s not enough to keep my attention, and between the cheesy lyrics and delivery, and the lengthy 3 ½ – 4-minute durations, the tunes are hard to slog through.
While I’m not against retro music, I feel the Aggrolites ignore the benefit of knowing what works and what doesn’t; it’s surprisingly lazy of a band to pay homage but not progress further, especially after a few releases. The Adjusters and Pietasters did some excellent, new things with soul/ska/funk; it’s unfortunate that the Aggrolites can’t/won’t follow their own creative path.
Bottom Line: Ironically, they’re best when they sound like their influences (John Holt, Alton Ellis, etc…) but I’d rather listen to their influences.
Notable Tracks: The Sufferer, By Her Side, Musically On Top, Reggae Summertime, Gotta Find Someone Better