Tribe After Tribe – Tribe After Tribe

   1991 Megaforce/Atlantic

In an era where grunge/alternative/modern rock/whatever was the trend du jour, these guys were unjustly thrown into the “metal” category due to their early output being released (and overlooked) on the label that spawned Metallica, Anthrax, Metal Church and other heavy/thrash pioneers in the early 80’s…Megaforce.

Guitarist and band leader Robbi Robb might be a familiar name to some of you hardcore Pearl Jam fans because he joined forces with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament in the band Three Fish.  If you’ve ever heard any of the Three Fish albums, you’ve got a pretty good idea of the sound you’ll find here…except that Tribe After Tribe’s songs are a little more accessible.

The sound of Tribe After Tribe is really difficult to categorize, as it’s a power trio of a different variety.  Yeah, there’s the guitar work of Robbi Robb – equal parts power and atmosphere, and the bass and bass synth stylings of Robby Whitelaw – unique and creative in its own right.  But the real secret weapon here is the man known only as P.K., who brings a real (read: honest) tribal feel to the music with his use of African percussion and a definite non-traditional sort of drum kit.

The band’s South African origins color the music, bringing a unique flavor to rock song structures like “Build A Subway” and “Sally.”   If you want to sample the sound for yourself, “White Boys In the Jungle” and “Come To See You Fall” are as good of a place to start as any (click the links to check ’em out on YouTube), since the sound itself will determine whether you buy into this band or not.   The way the latter tune builds is as intimate and real as anything you’ll ever hear.

I’m sold no doubt about it.  If you like the sound on the aforementioned songs you might as well search out this long out-of-print gem online and buy it.  You won’t be disappointed..and you’ll want to revisit this disc over and over again.  It’s hard to believe it’s 17 years old as of this post and it sounds even better with age.  Totally timeless and immune to trends, Tribe After Tribe creates music for the pure joy of it…and it’s here for all of us to experience, beginning with this breathtaking debut from a band that fortunately is still doing it after all this time.

Unfortunately they only have 2 discs that saw stateside release…this and the equally worthy followup ‘Love Under Will.’  I’ve gotta give kudos to Johnny Zazula and Co. at Megaforce Records for having the guts to give it a shot with a band that no major label would touch because they didn’t know what to do with them.

There’s only one thing to do with music like this.  Listen.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5