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The story of reggae group ISRAEL VIBRATION starts with an outbreak of polio in Jamaica in the 1950s, after a shipment of clothing carrying the virus arrived on the island from England. Stricken with the virus, Lascelles “Wiss” Bulgin, Albert “Apple” Craig, and Cecil “Skelly” Spence spent several years at the Mona Rehabilitation Clinic on the outskirts of Kingston, where they began to show an interest in music. As teenagers, they started to adhere to the teachings of Rastafari, which eventually got them thrown out of the clinic, and the three found themselves without a home. This inspired their first songs, with the three creating harmonies where each member took a turn singing lead, with the other two provided a type of harmony where their voices would vibrate. This distinctive style and their membership in a Rastafarian organization known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel led to them taking the name Israel Vibration.
Jamaican producer Tommy Cowan brought them to a studio in Kingston to record their first LP, The Same Song. Released by EMI in England, the album brought them to worldwide attention; Bob Marley picked them as his favorite group and had them play on his shows in Kingston. Their next album, Unconquered People, was recorded at Bob’s Tuff Gong Studio and featured many of the Wailers as musicians.
After splitting with Cowan, the group, frustrated with the Jamaican music business and the difficulties of living on the island with polio, came to Brooklyn. In 1987, the members of the group approached Doctor Dread from RAS Records to see if the label would sign them as solo artists. Doctor Dread was firm in his response: “Marcus Garvey always said that ‘Unity is strength,’ and if you reunite, RAS would be willing to relaunch your career as Israel Vibration.” In 1988, RAS recorded Strength of My Life, the first of eight albums by the group for the label. In 1998, Apple Craig decided to again pursue a solo career; Skelly and Wiss continue to record and tour as Israel Vibration and have released three more albums for RAS and the new Live & Jammin DVD with an accompanying CD.