Exodus Steel Orchestra - Exodus II: The Power And The Glory
Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus II: The Power And The Glory was recorded "live" at their panyard in St. Augustine, Trinidad on portable recording equipment and released in 24-bit HDCD format in 2001. (It should, however, play fine on all but the oldest CD players.) While the title may perhaps sound a trifle bombastic, this really shouldn't detract from the quality and enjoyment of this album.
I have previously commented about whether 24-bit HDCD really provides any improvement in sound quality in my review of their previous album, Exodus, so I shan't repeat myself on that debatable subject.
As with their previous album, the recording quality of this offering by Exodus is difficult to fault in any major way, and again as previously, if I have any technical criticism, it is that the drums and other rhythmic percussion are a tad too prominent at times and this would have benefited hugely from good multi-track mixing down. On the average small two-speaker gear this is a bit less noticeable though.
Overall this album is a joy to listen to and makes you want to "jump up and wine", or reach for your bottle-and-spoon and play along, whichever your preference. Exodus' Exodus II: The Power And The Glory keeps up a breathtaking pace throughout and even manages to make the schmaltzy and banal (Bailamos and Stayin' Alive) sound quite good. A particular joy has to be David Rudder's Simple Ting, which is gloriously ecstatic and exhilarating, as indeed is the same calypsonian's The Case of the Disappearing Panyards. If I was really pushed to pick two favourite tracks on this album, these two would be it. The arrangements are superb (indeed, they are excellent throughout), and the playing is gorgeous, with gusto and great enthusiasm. And that smooth, almost Desper-esque Exodus sound is that little bit special really and a joy in itself.
It's just annoying though that CDs arriving from Trinidad especially so often arrive with the (ghastly) jewel case smashed and the whole package sometimes damaged and re-sealed by the post office, usually with the sleeves either torn or partly or completely gone AWOL. That said, jewel cases more often than not seem to arrive damaged no matter where the CD comes from, whether local or overseas. As long as the dreaded jewel case is with us, this is an irritation we shall just have to live with I guess. And I certainly never let any of this distract me from the excellence of the music.
And Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus II: The Power And The Glory is an excellent album, make no mistake. The pace, which never seems to let up on this album, is as contagious as the enthusiasm of the players. It's a very hard album to put back into its case.
Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus II: The Power And The Glory really should not be missing from any good steel pan collection and will certainly make for a great addition to any general Caribbean or world music collection.
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