Ziggy Marley needs no introduction, really. His father, Bob Marley, made Reggae music massively popular, and Ziggy continued his dad's legacy. Ziggy has been performing for years, first with his siblings in Ziggy and The Melody Makers, and then as a solo act.
Several guest stars show up on Family Time, including mother Rita Marley, sister Cedella Marley, and daughter Judah Marley. Also making appearances are Paul Simon, Toots Hibbert, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson & Paula Fuga, Jamie Lee Curtis, and kids' music stars Elizabeth Mitchell and Laurie Berkner.
Another thing that makes Family Time so successful is Ziggy's band. Drummer Santa Davis lets the "pow" of his snare and the "fooom" of his kick drum speak for themselves, while bassist Pino Palladino, known for his rock band session work (he currently tours with The Who), really did his Reggae homework, using lots of low end and leaving plenty of spaces between the notes. They're joined by keyboardist James Poyser, percussionist Rock Deadrick, and Ziggy's longtime touring guitarist Takeshi Akimoto.
The album kicks off with the happy sounds of a family's conversation, leading into the title track, a breezy, joyful ode to our individual and global families. Mom Rita and sister Cedella help sing "I Love You Too," one of the most heart-warming singalongs you'll hear all year, a tune that would truly make Ziggy's dad proud.
Jack Johnson and Paula Fuga join Ziggy on the acoustic "Cry Cry Cry," a song about a child missing his traveling father. Reggae legend Toots Hibbert makes an appearance on the joyful "Take Me to Jamaica," while "Ziggy Says" is a tropical remake of the traditional "Simon Says" game.
Willie Nelson (and long-time harmonica player/sidekick Mickey Raphael) drops by to lend his weathered vocals to the traditional "This Train," made popular years ago by Woody Guthrie. Then, kids' music star Elizabeth Mitchell helps sing "Wings of an Eagle," a reworking of the traditional tune "If I Had the Wings of a Dove," a song covered by Bob Marley and the Wailers during their early '60s ska days.
The easy-going "ABC" is based on Bob Marley's "Bend Down Low," and includes an awesomely groovy alphabet ("C is for Caring...J is for Jammin'...U is for Unity..."). Then, turn up your stereos for "Hold 'Em Joe," as Ziggy and band let loose on a tremendously jubilant version of this Calypso folk song popularized by Harry Belafonte in the mid-1950s.
Paul Simon contributes one of his best and most playful vocal performances of the past 20 years on "Walk Tall," a message of confidence and self-reliance set to some jumpin' Reggae music. "Future Man, Future Lady" finds kids' music giant Laurie Berkner dueting with Ziggy about the power kids have to create an ecologically sound environment for themselves and their own children.
The album ends with two spoken-word pieces: Jamie Lee Curtis reads Ziggy's sweet poem "My Helping Hands," then reads from her own picture book "Is There Really a Human Race?" the text of which fits in perfectly with Family Time's one love, one world, one family sentiments.
Family Time is a great introduction to contemporary Reggae for kids, and Ziggy Marley's message of love and family just can't be beat. Ziggy's heart is in the right place, too: proceeds from the sale of Family Time will benefit Chepstowe Basic School in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Some of the best kids' music of 2009, and certainly the top Reggae CD of the year for kids.
Released May 5, 2009; Tuff Gong Worldwide