The late '80s marked the return of Israel Vibration, one of roots reggae's most beloved bands, with a history dating back to their original meeting as youngsters in a Jamaican polio rehab center and a series of crucial recordings beginning a decade earlier with "Why Worry" and "The Same Song." Eventually, Albert "Apple" Craig, Cecil "Skelly" Spence and Lascelles "Wiss" Bulgin drifted apart after their career seemed to stall. But in 1989, when all three turned to RAS Records founder Dr. Dread to produce solo efforts, he persuaded them to reunite, which led to a second round of critical and commercial success.
Apple departed in 1996 but Skelly and Wiss continue their mission of sweetly harmonized conscious reggae on "Jericho." The album features the usual blend of suffering songs ("On Borrowed Time," "Trouble"), cautionary critiques ("Violence in the Streets," "Gang Bang Slam"), empowering solidarity anthems ("African Unification") and cheerful party tunes ("Jammin," "Thank God Its Friday")." The duo, whose supple harmonies are filled out on many tracks by Pam Hill and J.C. Lodge, still champion positive vibrations and a classic roots sound, with their Roots Radics band getting a little help from such guests as saxophonist Dean Fraser and guitarists Chinna Smith and Junior Marvin.
Israel Vibration's history is celebrated on "Power of the Trinity," a three-CD set in which each singer gets a disc featuring his signature songs, as well as the "reasoning" behind each song and a 20- to 25-minute interview conducted by Doctor Dread (the interviews and songs are all transcribed in the individual CD booklets; each CD is also available separately). Included are later recordings of earlier songs like "Why Worry," "Same Song" and "Why You So Craven" and such RAS-era favorites as "Jailhouse Rockin'," "Rude Boy Shufflin," "On the Rock" and "Strength of My Life.
Performing Thursday with the Abyssinians at the 9:30 club.
* To hear a free Sound Bite from "Jericho," call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8132. For a Sound Bite from "Power of the Trinity," press 8133. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)