Fab 5 goes Face to Face
The Fabulous Five Incorporated Band is not unused to fusing music and vocals with other performers. As a self-contained showband, along with their own material such as Asking For Love and Yu Safe, they regularly present a range of Jamaican popular music when they play live. This approach is heard on their Fab Five Live: The Ultimate Vintage Jamaican Party Mix, which has parts One and Two. There is also Fab Five and Friends Live: 1962-2012 ... 50 Years of Jamaican Music.
Then there is their work as a backing band, often mixed with their showband persona, where Fab Five provides music for entertainers in addition to presenting themselves as a self-contained unit.
Now, however, they have stepped into new territory with the upcoming album, Face To Face, for which they have done original songs with a number of artistes.
Among the songs are It's Time To Party with Mr Vegas, I'll Remember You with LUST, It's All About Love (a combination with Queen Ifrica), Believe in Yourself (Tarrus Riley), Together We're Beautiful (Gem Myers) and Nengeh Nengeh (Dwight Pinkney).
Fab Five's drummer/vocalist/songwriter Grub Cooper said whereas Face To Face is not the set's original title, it sums up the upcoming album's format. Pointing to the band's stellar history, including playing on Johnny's Nash's Jamaica-made album and being excluded from working with Al Green by persons who would not make the required contact, through to concentrating on their own material in the mid-1980s.
"If you want longevity, you either have to have a steady flow of hits or you reinvent over time," Cooper said. "As a showband, you have to play all genres," he said, pointing out that Fab Five has a "massive following" among Jamaicans abroad.
So, Cooper said, "About a year or so ago, the thought came, what next?"
That 'next' includes the next generation that the band plays to.
"We do a lot of shows around the island. Young people like us, especially in St James, where we do the 4-H show," he said.
That event is the annual Nyammings and Jammings Festival held on National Heroes Day.
Putting it all together, Cooper said he asked, why not have a collaboration album for the band - a process that would be made easier because they play for so many artistes at concerts? And it would be mutually beneficial, each collaboration providing an inroad into their respective markets.
It has not hurt that Cooper said he has hit a particularly creative period.
"A rich vein of writing came to me over the past 18 months or so."
There is a story behind each collaboration. Cooper noted that All About Love, with Queen Ifrica, is done with voices only, with no instruments.
Whereas the Gem Myers-Fab Five live presentation is a staple, Together We're Beautiful marks their first collaboration of this nature.
The track done with Tarrus Riley, Believe in Yourself, is from a Pantomime production, with Barbara Gloudon naturally having a strong hand in it. Nengeh Nengeh, Dwight Pinkney's song about ongoing engagement with a querulous woman, has been given a more extended talking segment with the nagging.
There is a wish list of more persons to include - as well as some that have not worked out. Cooper plans to do 14 songs and may go on to release 16 tracks on the album. Based on the response, there is always the possibility of a part two.