Israel Vibration, formed in 1978 (Kingston, Jamaica), of Cecil ‘Skeleton’ Spence, Albert ‘Apple Gabriel’ Craig and Lascelles ‘Wiss’ Bulgrin.
Israel Vibration consists of three young men who met in a polio rehab center. Their voices are among the holiest of Jamaican trinities. Dr. Dread of RAS Records arranged their reunion following a mid-’80s period of breakup, and reggae fans have been thanking him ever since. Ever soulful, ever sure, their voices are so close to the roots you can hear the earth itself in their blending. After debuting in 1978 with Same Song, Israel Vibration recorded steadily throughout the 1980s and 1990s, issuing three sets — Feelin’ Irie!, Israel Dub and Free to Move — in 1996 alone.
In the late 1950’s a polio epidemic hit Jamaica. Three of the many youths who fell victim to the disabling impact of the virus were Cecil Spence, Albert Craig and Lascelle Bulgin, later to be known respectively as “Skeleton”, “Apple” and “Wiss”. The boys formed a vocal trio whilst inmates of Kingston’s Mona Heights Rehabilitation Centre, eventually becoming known collectively as Israel Vibration.
As the doctrines of Rastafarian faith began to spread through the island of Jamaica the youthful trio fell under its influence and they began to grow dreadlocks – with the result that they were expelled from their ‘caring institution’. For around the next five years they lived on the streets on the streets of Kingston, literally busking a living, until adopted by the Twelve Tribes of Israel organisation. Other Rastas had refused to work with them through the belief that Jah had caused their disability as some form of punishment for previous wrongdoings.
In 1977 the Twelve Tribes financed their first single release, “Why Worry”. Recorded at the Treasure Island studio, the tune appeared as a 7″ on the Orthodox label showing the trio as “Israel Vibration” and the backing musicians as the Twelve Tribes Band.
The song and its delivery were markedly in the cultural Rasta tradition – for reference check the early recordings of Burning Spear. The record was a success, and after appearing in talent contests the trio stepped up to become an in-demand item for live shows, supporting the likes of Dennis Brown, Inner Circle, Rita Marley etc. At this stage, executive producer Tommy Cowan became interested and financed further recordings, notably “The Same Song” for his own Top Ranking imprint, the “b side” was a dub version “Jam This Jam”.
Musicians at the session for “The Same Song” single included the Lewis Brothers, Roger and Ian from Inner Circle, known at the time as Fatman Riddim Section.
Audiences at live performances were dumbfounded at the sight of three handicapped young men delivering Rastafari’s righteous message via their own trademark – real time dubbed vocals – whilst joyously skanking away on their crutches!
In 1978 different versions of both “Why Worry” and “The Same Song” were recorded for the debut album which carried the title of the latter hit song and was released on Top Ranking in Jamaica and licensed via Harvest (EMI) in the UK. The set was acknowledged as an instant classic in London’s then lucrative reggae market, there were even rumours of a replica pirate version on sale! The quality of the companion dub set, Israel Tafari, helped to cement the roots reputation of Israel Vibration who had arrived on the scene when fans where on the look-out for the next big vocal group in the lineage and tradition of the Wailers, Heptones, Wailing Souls, Mighty Diamonds etc. At the time “The Same Song” album seemed to sell forever!
In 1980 Israel Vibration released the follow-up album “Unconquered People” and have since continued in the same vein with a string of melodic harmony-based sets.
To date they remain popular internationally and their live performances are guranteed to be passionate affairs still fully committed to the Rastafarian way of life. However it is true to say that through their recording they have never surpassed the initial achievement of the first album that enduring classic – “The Same Song”.
This is the classic set presented for vinyl reissue. The reissue cut on CD for the first time contains the bonus of an extended version of “The Same Song” replete with a dub version, plus the 12″ cut of a later single – “Crisis” – featuring a melodica version by Augustus Pablo.
— Courtesy (Roger Steffens, All-Music Guide) –(Steve Barker, “On The Wire”, BBC Radio Lancashire) —