These were the original liner notes that were supposed to be included in the cd's booklet.
Mongoose first appeared on my radar screen in 1999 when a fellow DJ on KDHX, Papa Ray, handed me a copy of their debut CD, Soul Deliverance.
I fell in love with the band.
As fate would have it, a few months later they came through St. Louis to the Red Sea and blessed us with an outstanding night of intense, uplifting reggae. Over the next year they played in town on two different occasions, each time to packed houses at Club Viva and each time leaving us wanting and craving for more.
I met the band that first night and have kept in touch with Maimon Chocron, the front man, ever since. Maimon was born of Jewish-Moroccan parents who left North Africa just prior to his birth. They lived briefly in Paris where their son was born, and continued on a journey that led them to Canada, where they settled in a tightly-knit, Moroccan-Sephardic community in Montreal.
Maimon began playing guitar at the age of eleven. He played mostly rock music as a teen, influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. In 1979 his world was blown wide open when a neighbor turned him on to Bob Marley's Kaya. It reminded him of the Moroccan trance-music he heard as a child. He was home.
Maimon found himself writing song after song, playing with local musicians, and learning reggae from Jamaican artists in Montreal. It was clear that his talent and passion were destined to converge in his own reggae band, and in 1989 he formed Geoulah (Redemption in Hebrew). His original songs were inspired by Jewish spiritual teachings, coupled with the everyday experiences of urban youth. Geoulah's explosive first album, Soul Deliverance, was released in 1995. On the momentum of that debut’s success, Maimon moved to Los Angeles where he saw his music and opportunities grow. He also quickly realized the band's name was difficult to pronounce for his new American audience, so after some brain-storming sessions, a friend came up with Mongoose. They liked the fact that it was a small animal that when threatened by a snake attacks it, but doesn’t eat it. They liked the name – it had bounce to it - so they went with it.
They proceeded to re-release Soul Deliverance under their new name and things escalated quickly from there, with the band opening for such luminaries as the Wailing Souls, Mighty Diamonds, Third World, Gregory Isaacs and Steel Pulse. They even did a small tour with The Wailers, hooking up with them on the California leg of one of their tours. In 1999, Maimon met Ronnie “Stepper” McQueen, the original bass player for Steel Pulse, who was also living in Southern California. They connected immediately and Stepper soon joined Mongoose as an integral part of the sound and vibe. A year later, they recorded and released a 5-song demo EP produced by Stepper, called Special Edition. Consisting of Clear Night, All Yours, Soul People, Puff And Relax and Police Terror, it showcased the band’s tight sound and the maturing of Maimon’s songwriting. But it was void of lead guitars and harmony vocals and was never considered a finished product. They toured in support of it, though, as they were selected for the NACA convention [National Association for Campus Activities] which resulted in the band doing college tours and ultimately playing throughout the U.S. Since 2001, they’ve been playing steady gigs on the West Coast (with appearances at the Montreal Jazz and other festivals) and evolving musically; honing their sound and getting tighter as an ensemble. In 2005, they were preparing to press new copies of their EP when Skank Records stepped in with a bigger idea.
This disc was originally going to be a compilation of different tracks from Soul Deliverance and Special Edition (with added overdubs) plus two new songs. After hearing the subtle changes to the EP tracks, as well as the brilliance of the two new tunes, it was decided to scrap the older material (except for “Slumber City”) and go with even more new songs.
Believe me when I say the results are stronger than strong. Puff And Relax was kept the same but all the other EP tunes were altered. Brand new harmonies, guitars and even some new vocals from Maimon add a whole new feel to the tracks. And the other new songs are fantastic, from the beautiful opening tune, You Are, through the updated version of Soul People. There’s even an absolute killer tune, Uman, which is sung in French over a hard-core roots vibe.
The music on Third Ear is dramatically smooth - totally fresh, yet familiar - with just over one hour of urban, rootsy tunes. And once again I felt it was imperative to have a detailed booklet with info and lyrics, to totally absorb Maimon’s consciousness and message.
Maimon and the Mongoose Band, as they are now officially known, have come up with a classic and I’m truly proud to present it to the world.
Turn it up, skank it hard and enjoy.