If we are guided by the appearance of this American artist, we would hardly think that he is a person with an important career in reggae: a red-haired man who – out of prejudice – we would most likely associate him with heavy music, some wave proposal Suicidal Tendencies. But prejudices in music can make us miss out on great things, and Lion Powda is not only effectively an interesting reggae figure, but also embodied an old dream that would appear to be difficult to achieve: mixing the legendary Doors with sounds of the Caribbean. Well, Lion Powda succeeds, but the amazing thing about his career does not end there: as a singer, it was in Argentina where he fell in love with reggae and this is where he came to meet partners for this adventure.
Man of the world, although Lion Powda was born in the state of Pennsylvania, he had an epiphany with reggae during a trip to Argentina in which he befriended several local musicians of the genre such as members of Big Bambú, Walter Spider Arricau de Humanidub, musicians from Dancing Mood, among others. He did not leave his passion for the genre in South America and in trips to other regions of the globe he was able to meet legends such as drummer Sly Dunbar, the Israel Vibration and the singer Trinity, who was the one who added him to the formation of his Trinity Roots Band impressed by the American’s guitar skills. Trinity christened him Lion Powda, probably because of his red mane.
The musician closed 2020 with the launch of A Reggae Tribute to The Doors with which he can probably become the “conquering lion” of the scene: it is a great album, with a forceful and neat sound, which can surprise and please both lovers of the genre and fans of the legendary band from Los Angeles.
With Alejandro Mono Avellaneda on drums, Hernán Don Camel Sforzini on percussion, Pablo Lara on bass, Santiago Lara on rhythm guitar, Pedro Oholeguy on keyboards, Pehuen Innocenti on lead guitar (and also some keyboards), the voice of Lion Powda surprises with its rock power, totally in tune with the legend of Jim Morrison. The saxophone that flies over most of the songs is that of Sergio Colombo, leader of Natty Combo and member of the stable band of Indio Solar, The Air Conditioning Fundamentalists.
“I remember when I discovered The Doors at 12 years old. I went to see the Oliver Stone movie at the cinema with 3 friends. It was magic ”, confesses Lion Powda in his social networks. Obviously he needed to pay his personal thanks to Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore, and he chose this time in his career to do so. Surely the Doors would be more than satisfied with this collection of 10 songs (to which some dub versions will be added by Don Camel Sforzini).
The album opens with “People are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times”, which were also chosen as singles released in advance on digital platforms. The result is logically effective because they are two timeless classics and are covered in a classic reggae style that cannot fail. This is followed by a fun version of “Roadhouse Blues” (which to honor the version could easily be called “Roadhouse Ska”). After a nice “Back Door Man” comes “LA Woman” which is the only moment of the album that leaves the feeling that perhaps there was a twist left to give, since it is a song that has some passages of a certain darkness in the original and that this version overlooks, despite which it is a good version.
But the best of the album, the most original, comes in the second half: the rocksteady / skinhead reggae “Unhappy Girl” is straightforwardly wonderful, with hypnotic keyboards worthy of the style. In the UK at the end of the ’60s this song would have been a bombshell, a hit with the youth of that era. And it constitutes the perfect turn of the album to introduce us to the version also in that same vein of “Light My Fire”, where again the characteristic keyboards stand out. But it would be unfair to highlight only a few musicians, the whole band sounds perfect starting with the solid base of the Mono Avellaneda and Pablo Lara and crowned by the percussion and guitars of Innocenti and Santiago Lara.
It follows a relaxed version of “I Looked at You” to give way to a reggae with a “funky” beginning – in the style of “(You Gotta Walk) Don´t Look Back” by Peter Tosh with Mick Jagger) – that they chose correctly for their “Alabama Song”.
And as the strawberry that crowns the dessert that is this exquisite tribute to the Doors, a version of “Riders on the Storm” in style nyahbinghi (style in which the percussions are the nodal point, very characteristic of the authentic dreadlocks of the mountains of Jamaica), where the hand of Hernán is notorious Don Camel Sforzini, an artist and producer who was nominated for the awards Grammy for the album in which he managed to bring together the two most important bands in the history of original reggae, the Roots Radical Band and the formation of Sly & Robbie. A phenomenal close.
So in A Reggae Tribute to The Doors From Lion Powda we meet artists who know, study and love reggae and music in all its expressions: the result – as expected – is very good, embodied in a highly recommended album.
Here you can listen to the full album: