Rocker T and Version City Rockers
Nicer By the Hour
This is definitely an interesting diversion. Master chatter Rocker T works his rhymes over rhythms laid by an all-star ensemble including King Django and Dave “Hahn Solo” Hahn (Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars), Agent Jay (Agent 99, SAS), Dr. Ring Ding, Vic Rice (New York Ska Jazz Ensemble), Buford O’Sullivan (Scofflaws), and Vic Ruggiero (Slackers, SAS), among others. This alone is enough to arouse the average ska fan’s interest, and indeed, those folks won’t be disappointed by fun up-tempo tracks like “I Have to Say,” “Wicked Man Run,” and “Do You Wanna.”
However, a lot of the results go well beyond what the ska crowd may be prepared for — indeed, overall, Nicer By the Hour may have more of an audience amongst fans of reggae and dub. Hopefully, the “ska” listeners will give the rest of the record a chance, and give it more than one listen. They’ll find the effort well worth their while. With a few listens, tracks like the spacey “Version City Lady” and “Another Way,” the reggae-inflected “One More” and “Worries,” the drum circle sing-along “Binghiman Home,” and the dub-fest “Unda Groun River an Waterfall” manage to etch themselves into your brain, begging you to play the record again and again.
The best compliment I can give this record is that it sounds old — the tracks have a wonderful timeless quality that’s only added to by Rocker T’s dead-on authentic chatting and vocals. This makes Nicer sound like a lost classic from Jamaica rather than a brand new record, and makes the album that much more captivating. Pick this one up and listen a few times — you’ll be glad you did. Stubborn Records, 504 Grand St. #F52, New York, NY 10002