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Richie Booker - Shine the Light
Richie Booker - Shine the Light
CD Review by Jud Conway on 2/5/2009   

Singer/songwriter Richie Booker’s Shine the Light is an eclectic debut release that defies categorization. Booker himself has dubbed the music "alternative reggae." This fact comes as no surprise; Booker is the brother of legendary reggae superstar Bob Marley.

Richie Booker grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and eventually migrated to Florida. He credits the musical talents and spiritual awareness of the Marley clan to mother Cedella Marley Booker, who preached the teachings of Jah Love and strongly encouraged and supported all of her children’s musical and theatrical pursuits. Booker, who is both an actor and musician, starred in the 1998 film Palmetto with Woody Harrelson. In addition, Booker has produced fifteen annual Bob Marley Caribbean Festivals. Proceeds from the star-studded concerts have helped to fund programs to feed and shelter the homeless.

Booker spent over a year in the studio writing, producing, and recording Shine the Light. The final mix provides listeners with twelve divergently-styled tracks that range from straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll songs to dance and pop numbers. Oddly enough, the tracks somehow manage to appear cohesive under the reggae backdrop. Lyrically, much of Shine the Light’s subject matter combines elements of Booker’s Jamaican family heritage with more universal positive influences to create a fertile environment for mass-market appeal.

Shine the Light’s highlights include the rock ‘n’ roll numbers "Medicine Man" and "Selling Sex," which incorporate a "Bob Marley meets Led Zeppelin" vibe. The title track, which could be considered a ballad of sorts, and the uplifting "Station Revelation" both emanate much stronger reggae tones. In contrast, "Wow," along with the almost hypnotic Bob Marley/Richie Booker-penned "Vampire," sound more apropos for the urban club scene.

Richie Booker’s Shine the Light adds a colorful backdrop of new musical textures to the already well-established Marley legacy and franchise. Reggae fans who care enough to wonder what Bob Marley himself might have sounded like in the year 2009 owe it to themselves to lend Richie Booker’s Shine the Light both an open ear and an open mind.

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