The members of Israel Vibration first met as children at a rehabilitation center for polio victims in Jamaica, where they were essentially homeless before being advanced some money in support of their first single in 1976. Powered by the release of the full-length masterpiece The Same Song the following year, the group went on to become one of reggae's all-time greatest vocal-harmony roots trios.
Israel Vibration has a somber, melancholy vibe that's as reflective as it is uplifting. The band's lilting, dissonant harmonies consistently underpin ultra-rootsy one-drop riddims. Unlike some of its peers, the band was never fazed by Jamaica's late '80s dancehall takeover. Instead, the group toured abroad extensively, stopping wherever roots music remained popular. Backed by the almighty Roots Radics, Israel Vibration became the act to see live, with the three somewhat awkward-looking vocalists dancing with their canes and/or crutches, singing their hearts out, and flying their natty dreads proudly. The fact that all three members also wrote their own material guaranteed variety not only in live sets, but also on their dozen or so dependably sturdy albums released on the RAS label.
By the new millennium, Apple Gabriel left for a solo career, and the original trio became a duo. Nonetheless, Skelly Spence and Wiss Bulgin delivered two solid releases in '99s Pay the Piper and 2000's Jericho. Akron will feel the good vibrations this Saturday.
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