I’ve never been a fan of watered down reggae. You know what I mean, that silky smooth, poppy, generic sounding crap that comes from big label productions? I often point my finger at these over-produced monstrosities as the main reason reggae doesn't get the respect it deserves from mainstream audiences. I also believe that a lot of the reggae released by non-Jamaican musicians sounds so stereotypically reggae that it scares away potential new fans and bores away seasoned listeners. Sadly, the majority of stuff that is released by bands in the United States meets either one or both of those criteria. I had just about given up hope of finding an American reggae band I could really like until this summer. At a used CD store I’ve been know to frequent I happened across a CD in the reggae section by a group called the Aggrolites, the album was appropriately titled "The Aggrolites." At first I was reluctant to give it a try when I saw that it was released by the American based Epitaph label but because there was nothing else worthwhile to sample I walked it over to the listening station, donned the headphones, popped it in the player and hit play being prepared to lunge for the eject button as soon as I heard that trademark horrid Americanized rhythm… but it never came! So to make a long story short, it was the only CD I bought that day! Okay now we’re gonna get back on topic with the Halloween music… and we will momentarily.
The Aggrolites are based in Southern California and the musicians all got their start playing in the punk, hardcore and ska scene. But don’t worry you wouldn’t know it… (not that there's anything wrong with these genres of music!) the sound is definitely authentic sounding late 60’s "skinhead" reggae and I highly recommend this CD to anyone who is a fan of that era. I read on the Epitaph website that the group’s name was a combination of Jamaican names; The Aggrovators and The Crystalites. I also learned that the band has played with Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster. Buster even remarked after their performance at 2003’s Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, "It reminded me of the old days, I can’t believe this young band from America could play my music just as good as the day it was recorded." That’s a hell of a compliment!
As you can imagine, after that tremendous build-up. the next song in the Halloween mix is courtesy of the Aggrolites. The song is called "Grave Digger" and the graveside dialogue at the top of the song (after Alfred Hitchcock’s introduction) was taken directly from the CD… I only embellished it with the background cemetery sounds, the actual digging which is heard in and out throughout the song and the little snippet about being buried alive from a classic 70's era horror record called "Sounds Of Terror." I think you’ll dig it… Muwuhahahahahahaha!