For some time now top UK CCM website CrossRhythms have been running a series called “The Spirit of Rock & Soul”. The idea of the series is to ultimately name their top 1,000 favourite CCM songs. They are doing this by periodically publishing new additions to the list on the website and the latest selections includes a song from BEN OKAFOR that features on his classic Plankton Records release GENERATION. A big thanks to CrossRhythms for including Ben’s song. Here’s what they said about “Sanctify My Soul”:
BEN OKAFOR – SANCTIFY MY SOUL, 1992. From the album ‘Generation’, Plankton.
It took me a long time to really enjoy Ben Okafor. When I first heard him outside a small tent at Greenbelt a couple of years before he made his first record I rather dismissed him as a Bob Marley copyist. Being, before my conversion, a black music purist (a strange affectation for a white boy) I believed that only black Americans could sing “real” soul music and only black Jamaicans could perform “real” reggae. The Spirit had some work to do before my cultural prejudices could be completely demolished. So in my early years as a music critic and journalist for Buzz magazine I theorised that Ben’s growing popularity at Greenbelt was due to the fact that for years Ben was the ONLY exponent of gospel reggae in Britain and with many young British churchgoers keen to hear something that at least got close to “Exodus” or “No Women No Cry” the Nigerian-born Ben filled the need. It wasn’t until the remastered version of the ‘Generation’ album was released that I had to radically revise my opinion of Mr Okafor. He still offered some of those insidious lopsided riddems of JA but he’d found his own creative focus. Propulsive Afro-beat, raw Ritchie Havens-style acoustic rock and worldbeat reggae were all evident on the album to make something completely his own. Ben’s vocal stylings may still have owed much to Marley but now on this joyful number, they were heard over jangly guitars, a finely recorded bassline, some delicious congas and a drummer who showed on the chorus an on-the-fours drive which unexpectedly, and probably unwittingly, replicated the driving rhythm of Northern soul. Seldom has a track so successfully woven together such an eclectic musical potpourri and with its celebratory chorus “Sanctify my soul/I love you more than gold” it’s easy to understand how this song would get any crowd on their feet and dancing.
If you want to read the full article (and see the other songs included on this latest selection) then click on the link: http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/The_Spirit_Of_Rock_And_Soul_Numbers_831_to_840/33238/p1/
GENERATION was originally released in 1992 but in 2006, long after the album was officially out of print and following discussions with Ben and the re-launching of Plankton’s activities following a few years of silence it was agreed to re-release a remastered version of this classic album. Ben also re-recorded 3 additional songs that he had written and (originally) recorded around the time of the original release and these new recordings fitted in seamlessly! This is the remastered version of the album referred to in the review. The release was met with critical acclaim and joy from his fans. This remastered version is available on all leading music download and streaming sites Worldwide, or on CD from this very website: Click on the link https://planktonrecord.wpengine.com/discography/generation/