Wonderful! - The True Story of Mark Wonder creating waves in Europe
IT'S not as if Mark Wonder is a new talent. After all, he recorded his first album, Signs Of The Time, in 1996. The irony though, is that while the dreadlocked roots reggae singer is not very well known in his homeland, Jamaica, he has been working wonders with his music on the European market for a number of years.
His latest project, The True Story of Mark Wonder and Friends, is being hailed by critics as one of the best roots albums coming out of Jamaica in a very long time.
"It's an album of collaborations. An album featuring a lot of the big stars in reggae — Sizzla, Gentleman, Anthony B, Capleton, Luciano, Junior Kelly, Everton Blender, you name them; and we getting some strong reviews on it," the singer born Mark Andrew Thompson told the Observer in a recent interview.
"We're working on efforts to get the album released here in Jamaica," he added, "however, it's available on all the leading online sites. The album is more available in Europe because it is distributed by a European-based distributor."
That distributor, he revealed, is Germany-based Groove Attack, which has also released the set in the United States.
Wonder, who got his break from Jamaican producer Jack Scorpio, for whom he did his first recording, said that The True Story of Mark Wonder and Friends is laced with social commentary.
"We have leading tracks like Militant Soldier, It's Just Love, Signs Of The Times, and People Need Security, produced by Irie Ites out of France," he said. "These tracks are creating waves in Europe."
Since he released Signs Of The Time in 1996 on the Zola & Zola label from Holland, Wonder has been heralded as being among that crop of Jamaican artistes known to possess the right formula for the European market.
In natural progression, Signs Of The Time was followed in 1999 by a live album recorded in Switzerland. Then came studio albums Jeremiah in 2001, followed in 2004 by Victory, The Mystery Unfolds and Break The Ice.
Although those albums established him in the European market, Wonder is of the view that his new work is his best effort so far. "To date we have recorded quite a few albums. This is my fifth [studio] album. So far, based on the level of response it has been getting, I would say this is my best album," he said.
Asked why he has been able to make an impact in Europe but remains virtually unknown in Jamaica, Wonder was caustic in his answer: "Basically right now, how mi see the music industry a run, is like a pimp and prostitute game. And so you find that a culture and a livity of a people and a nation are being stifled. Because we were once, as a nation, considered trendsetters. When you look around today inna di livity of the people dem and the everyday situation you see we [have] become a set of people who just a follow; ah live a culture which is not of I and I, y'know. So you find now, within that livity, the roots have been pushed [to] one side. When you cut off the roots the branches dem must die."
Based on the response to his music in Europe, it is probably most fitting that he has titled his upcoming album Mark Wonder Working Wonders which, he said, is being produced in collaboration with a German-based record label.
They are, however, not rushing to release it.
"This album (The True Story) is doing pretty well, so we not gonna rush into releasing that album (Working Wonders) at this point in time," the soft-spoken singer explained.