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ISRAEL VIBRATION – FORTY YEARS AND STILL GOING STRONG WITH NEW ALBUM!

 By Howard Campbell—
 Cecil ‘Skelly’ Spence (left) and Lascelle ‘Wiss’ Bulgin of Israel Vibration at the sound check before a show on their recent European tour.—

FORTY years of recording and touring with Israel Vibration has not dimmed Cecil ‘Skelly’ Spence’s passion for making music.

Spence and the group’s co-founder Lascelle ‘Wiss’ Bulgin recently completed a six-week tour of Europe, promoting their latest album, Play it Real.

Backed by longtime recording and touring partners, the Roots Radics Band, Israel Vibration did shows in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

But Spence, 63, yearns to conquer new territories.

Israel Vibration

Israel Vibration

“Wi don’t get much exposure in areas like New York, Miami, an’ even England. People not much into roots an’ culture in dem areas, but wi want to reach a younger generation,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Spence lives in Brooklyn, New York which has been home to a massive Jamaican community for over 50 years. Elders were big into roots music during the 1970s and early 1980s, but their American children and grandchildren largely favour dancehall and hip hop.

Spence said the last time Israel Vibration played New York was 2012 alongside Inner Circle, another veteran group.

Released in March, Play it Real is distributed by Mediacom, a French company that also works as Israel Vibrations’ booking agent.

Their latest tour was Spence and 60-year-old Bulgin’s first time to Europe in over one year. Traditionally a strong region for roots-reggae, Spence said the reception throughout was positive.

“Wi got a lotta people coming to the midweek shows, normally yuh don’t si dat. Is also the first time wi have a album an’ the people know the new song already,” he said.

IsraelVibrationPlayItReal

Israel Vibration started as a trio (Spence, Bulgin and Albert ‘Apple’ Craig) in 1975 at the height of roots-reggae’s popularity.

Stricken by polio during the 1950s, they met at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre in St Andrew. Same Song, a call for unity among the various Rasta ‘houses’, was their first hit in 1978.

After a lull at the start of the 1980s, they relocated to the United States and eventually enjoyed renewed interest in their music during the 1990s, thanks to a series of well-received albums with the independent RAS Records.

Craig left the group in 1997, but Spence and Bulgin have soldiered on, recording for ‘indies’ like Mediacom, and touring consistently.

The duo are scheduled to start a tour of the US in September.

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