Entirely recorded in the concert hall of the Cologne Stadtgarten, for this project Gentleman put together a stellar line up of musicians and guests to help him; Gentleman’s band, the Evolution Band, was joined and supported by an eight-element string section directed by Pierre-Henri Dutron; by Jamaican musicians Denver Smith on percussion, Dean Frazer on saxophone, Hopeton Williams on trumpet and Sherieta Lewis as backup singer, and by guitarist Boris Rogowski and pianist Toni Farris. Plus Shaggy, Christopher Martin, Tanya Stephens, Milky Chance, Marlon Roudette and Campino stepped in on the action.
Even if it showcases all Gentleman’s
hits (Dem Gone, Superior, The Journey, Send A Prayer just to name a few), the
MTV Unplugged project is not merely a greatest hits - many tunes have in some
way been revisited and rebuilt obtaining a fresh taste. Intoxication sweetly dedicated to the artist’s wife, Tamika, who is
also one of the backing voices, To The
Top featuring Christopher Martin put on The Skatalites’ Confucios, New Day Dawn with only percussions accompanying
Otto Tilman’s voice, Heart of Rub a Dub
which is magnificent in this new acoustic version are only few examples of what
this group of highly talented musicians have created.
New songs are in too, both collaborations with Jamaican artists; No Solidarity with Ky-Mani Marley and the special Warn Dem with Shaggy which is also the first released video of the upcoming DVD. And talking about collaborations another one that deserves to be mentioned here is the smooth and sweet Another Melody in which Tanya Stephens shows all her class in fine style. This song, released in 2010 and contained in the album Diversity is performed by the two artists live (together) for the first time in this unplugged session.
All and all the album has a clear
pace and alternates powerful and tough tunes like Dem Gone, Rainy Days, Leave Us
Alone and The Journey
with more sweet and smooth ones like Memories, Send A
Prayer or Homesick before ending
with a very touching and soulful version of Redemption Song, with Ky-Mani Marley and Campino (singer of the
German Band Die Toten Hosen) and an extraordinary solo of
the master Dean Frazer.
2014 saw Gentleman
measuring himself and shining on two very different and new projects, the MTVUnplugged and the
documentary Journey To Jah. We can’t say what the future is going to bring,
what we can easily say is Gentleman delivering great bodies of work no matter the platform.