SINGLE REVIEW: IDRIS ELBA – ‘STAND BY ME’
WORDS – CRAIG HOPKINSON
Idris Elba is, by all accounts, the Midas of his time; anything he touches turns to gold. Not only is he an international movie superstar, a world-renowned tech-house and progressive house DJ, nor is he simply an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Idris has pushed out one of the best new singles of 2019 thus far, ‘Stand By Me’. (Additionally, Idris Elba also just happens to be my number one man-crush, so there’s also that).
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‘Stand By Me’, a Dancehall infused, dub totting, instant reggae banger is one of the single releases from a collection of tunes inspired by last year’s Elba film; Yardie. Incorporating audio samples from the film, ‘Stand By Me’ and other tracks to be released over the course of the year were produced and arranged by Idris Elba and include collaborations with various British and Jamaican artists. Brixton born artist Tanika and Jamaican Dancehall singer Kranium joined Elba in bringing us ‘Stand By Me’ and instantly the listener is belted by what can only be described as very traditional reggae sound. With a ‘2-step’ and roots feel throughout the song, ‘Stand By Me’ issues archetypal up-stroke guitar patterns and Rhodes keys played with such swing that the whole piece bounces classically, as all good reggae does. It’s a positive vibration indeed.
Lyrically, the song is in keeping with the narrative of the film and the themes it portrays. The story of a young Yardie from Jamaica, witnessing the ills of the world around him, murder, organised crime and gangsters, wondering who, if anyone, will stand by him in times of trouble and strife.
The production level here is so clean and vibrant, it’s a really well-oiled piece. Each instrument has its own shelf of frequency and every second just sounds so clear; the instrumentation throughout is immense, but to play the reggae strum pattern properly a guitar player needs to have paid their dues. Here’s the thing though, I really can’t tell if all the drums were recorded live or if they are all digitally sequenced or punched in with a sampler like an MPC. This is surprising because it either means the live drumming is that tight or sounds almost electronic or if the drum samples used and the patterns created are that tight and authentic they sound as though they were played live.
Is there anything this man cannot do? If one thing is for sure, the box of top-notch music producer has officially been ticked. Keep making bangers like this Mr.Elba and I’m sure we’ll all stand by you.