Dion Knibb & the Agitators

The essence of old school ska and rock-steady may have been captured and perfected by the likes of the Skatalites, Jackie Opel, Desmond Dekker, etc., but Dion Knibb & the Agitators are here, and breathing new life and style into this great Jamaican art form.

The band are certainly no strangers to the genre, with most being former Steady Earnest members. Skatalites veteran Ken Stewart became involved by a chance meeting with the former Earnests, who were looking for a keyboardist. Incidentally, Stewart brought along Dion Knibb, whose roots were also deep-seeded in ska (his father is Lloyd Knibb, the original Skatalites drummer). So, now we got eight guys with lots of experience, but could they get it together? After one jam session, they knew something special was happening and immediately got busy carving out their “sound.”

Driving Me Mad highlights Knibb’s soulful voice with an extremely talented and diverse group of musicians, each adding their own influence. Art Cohen, one of the founding Agitators, explains this spectrum of musical influence and interests has allowed the band to play the music they love without merely recycling sounds of the past. This point is what elevates Driving Me Mad to a classic in one listening. You will be captivated by the numerous moods, whether it be instrumental, vocal-driven, or classic like “Welcome Back Home,” which features Doreen Shaffer’s vocals.

I must confess I stumbled onto this CD mainly because I recognized the Knibb name. What I wasn’t prepared for was falling into one of my favorite records of the year! When you check out the groovy horns and loungy sound on “Hot Biscuits,” “Green Island’s” ska-funk jams, or skankin’ goodness of “Monica Lewinsky,” you’ll know you’re on to a winner! Get your copy quick via mail order! http://www.agitators.com DVS Media, 9 Pearl St., Salem, MA 01970

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