The recent trend in Jamaican music has been toward hedonistic, less message-oriented "dance-hall" and "lovers rock" sounds. But in its appearance at the Music Machine on Wednesday, the group Foundation eschewed current fads, revitalizing a format that dominated reggae's formative years: the harmony trio.
Backed by the tight yet supple, six-piece Creation band, Foundation live was a lot earthier and tougher than it is on record. Lead vocalist Errol (Keith) Douglas proved himself a hep-toned wailer as the group locked into the funky syncopations of political and religious statements like "Symptom and Sign." At a time when reggae, like American soul music, is "evolving" into forms where novelty often outweighs substance, Foundation's dedication to pure musicianship and spiritual/political values creates a harmonious blend of purpose and performance.