Good Vibrations | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Good Vibrations

Seven minutes in reggae heaven with Israel Vibration

While it's easy to set reggae on a shelf next to faded college memories of hookah smoking and wall tapestries, some bands are more than a flash in the pan—or pot, as it were. And there's certainly more to the genre than that icon of icons, Bob Marley (whose likeness adorns countless dorm room walls). Bend gets a chance to experience reggae's rich legacy when Israel Vibration comes through town.

Not familiar? Here are seven things you should know about Israel Vibration.

1: The three original members of Israel Vibration all met in a rehab center for their childhood polio affliction. Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin, Albert "Apple Gabriel" Craig, and Cecil "Skelly" Spence all met at the Mona Rehabilitation Clinic during the Jamaican polio epidemic of the 1950s, but it wasn't until years later when they were all healthy and fully immersed in Rastafarian culture that they reconnected and formed the group.

2: When Apple was born, he had a thin layer of tissue covering his face. When the tissue came off he apparently looked like an ancient man.

3: There is such a good vibe to their music. Their vocals harmonize in such a way to create what can only be described as peace. Even in their more synth heavy '80s output, their music just radiates goodwill, kindness, and love. They just want to spread the word of Rastafari to the world in the most non-intrusive and pleasant way possible.

4: Their music isn't just praise music, they also sing about equal rights, racial injustice, and how to find power when you're broke and starving. What's amazing is that even in their most serious and powerful songwriting, the music itself is always upbeat and playful. The harmonic dissonance between what they're singing about and how happy their sound is actually creates a very powerful connection to the music.

5: Israel Vibration released their first album in 1978, putting out 23 reggae albums over the last 37 years along with four live albums and several dub albums. Apple Gabriel left the group in 1997 to start a solo career and instead of changing the line-up, Wiss and Skele just kept the group as the two of them, content to make music together for as long as people would listen.

6: They initially considered themselves the torchbearers of Bob Marley (with even The Wailers serving as their backing band early in their career). As far as roots music goes, they definitely have more in common with Marley than they do with some of the other acts that came from that period like Black Uhuru and Burning Spear. There is just something timeless about the quality of their music that hasn't dated them.

7: The band Israel Vibration is touring with, the Roots Radics, are actually a legendary session group out of Jamaica. The Radics have toured as Gregory Isaacs band, while also touring and collaborating with artists like Bunny Wailer, Sugar Minott, The Wailing Souls, Creation Rebel, and Prince Far-I. These guys go back just as long as Vibration does and should bring the authentic roots sound the Bend show.

Israel Vibration

8 pm, Saturday, Oct. 17

Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave.


About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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