1973 debut, 2015 reissue. Badness to rock your body line. Deejay/ toasting wasn’t yet an accepted form. He was the leader of the Zukies. He didn’t leave the ‘enforcer’ lifestyle behind for another 3 years. If you eat pork there is a message here for you. Other messages too! +++
Smooth R&B reasonings- but the sentiments are as contemporary as the production is dated. Great vocal performances. Lyrics convey profound deep wisdoms. Now-time meditations – see ‘homeless’. Many others
Released 1997, a month after the classic Black Woman & Child.
Serge Gainsbourg, French sex icon and sultry singer of suggestive French pop tunes decided to put together a reggae album back in the late 1970’s. Pulling in the magic of Sly and Robbie, The I Threes for background vocals, many studio reggae greats and recording and mixing at Dynamic Sounds Studio, Gainsbourg nails it track after track. The propulsive bass lines and smooth backing vocals are a perfect match for Serge’s cigarette filled, raspy low tone almost monotone singing. These songs are most probably not about Jah. Most assuredly the pinnacle of a period yet so timeless. Get sexy.
Culture live in South Africa 1998. CONs: Cheesy MIDI horns, “Shall I go away?” annoying pandering. PROs: Classic tunes. I like Culture. But the canned version presented here is tough. The best tunes are ones that dive headlong into the cheese. Check out the sick guitar on “I’m Not Ashamed” #14. Weed carol #13 “International Herb”. #5 “Christopher Columbus”
Guilty pleasure at best, otherwise shlocky. Jah gotta pay the bills after all
Contemporary roots reggae. Slick Harrison Stafford production features the instrumentalists. Uncomplicated, straightforward pop approach. Like Moses sings on Living In Babylon, “Not everything good for talk.”
10 block-Trundlers for festival season. Ariwa 1982. Big tunes. Digital sound. A3 A5 B1 B3
Radio Poland journalist Wlodzimierz Kleszcz brought Norman Grant to Poland in 1986, paying him with studio time. Kleszcz saw a connection between the roots music of Jamaica and Poland – a link between ex-slaves and the Polish Gorale ex-serfs. The music feels earnest but forced at times, like the material is not fully developed. Psalms 23 is Grant chanting the bible. Whatever its deficits, it is endearing. Just before the wall fell, searching for a connection.
Mungo’s Hi-Fi Serious Times
Electro-Dancehall style reggae. Mungo’s Hi-Fi comes out of Scotland, but sounds like they are straight outta Kingston, JA. Great line-up of vocalists with many styles and dope rhythms from the sound system. DJs on the decks dropping bomb tracks, and MCs on the mics with excellent flows and vocals. Sides A and B are highlighted by female vocalists Warrior Queen, Soom T, and Marina, who help balance things out and add a sweet flava to a scene often dominated by dudes.
Sides C and D the Dudes are back in control and strutting their stuff. Cornell Campbell is a recognizable name on the last track, but all cuts are strong.
9 digital-style dubs on a blue spatter transparent LP in an edition of 1000. Pressed exclusively for Record Store day 2017 by VP Records out of Jamaica, Queens.
Jah9 is dub poet and certified yoga instructor. Mad Professor got his name as a boy due to his fascination with electronics. He began his career in music in 1973, as a service technician.
Rerelease of the first Dennis Alcapone album with six additional tracks. The early 1970’s were a transitional time in Jamaica, which Alcapone played an important part. Sounds were moving to bigger sound systems, deejays, using original tracks for new voices to interact with, an end of ska. U-Roy was the #1 deejay but big attention went to Alcapone who gave U-Roy a run for his money. “Forever Version” captures this time of transition. Some tracks are very much ska influenced or straight up ska. Others head toward the tradition of reggae. Most of the songs are about love, getting the pretty girl, partying at the dancehall and not the stuff of Jah and Sellasie. Dennis Alcapone has a distinct voice as he delivers his lyrics over the sounds of classics from the Heptones, the Wailers and others. He does have this unique, high pitched yelp that he drops in each song, sort of accentuating key parts. It’s clever and infectious when listening to one track. A fine addition to the library.
Capital Letters is a British reggae group and this album was originally released in 1982. Reissued for us again in 2015, this is a solid album. Good smooth musicianship and rootsy vocals. Lyrics sing about political injustices and inequalities of the times without sounding preachy or overly “Rastafied”.
I heard influences in the vocal styles of Mighty Diamonds or Israel Vibration, and also a slight haziness like Singers and Players. All tracks are solid, but I wish they had included some bonus dub versions. Alas, enjoy the roots.
King Of Dub is an old- school assembly of all the heavy hitters, inspired by Lee Perry and Bunny Lee productions. Check the line-up and you will see a star studded cast. Crunchy thumping bass and drums dominate in fine fashion. Straight outta Channel One studios and then edited at Bullwackie’s. It’s raw and sweet, unrefined and super deep.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of these cuts. Twist up a spliff and let it rip.
What is old is now what is new.
In the spirit of the show Game of Thrones, we take an old theme of knights and ladies, and make it modern to suit our current tastes. Old school dub styles meet modern recording methods. Not heavily synthed out, still very real-rock and Rasta, but none of the scratchy and crunchiness we get from vintage vault recordings.
I didn’t know much about Alborosie, but he has several releases under his belt, and is a fitting partner to join the master King Jammy. They alternate cuts, reminiscent of the albums like the Big Showdown.
A-1 and B-5 have vocals, the rest is smooth stoney dub instrumentals.
Leading up to a three-day celebration of Exodus this
upcoming (4/3/2015) weekend, the Undercover collective
targets Mr. Marley’s “Exodus” as their latest album to
explore. Super heartfelt, and mighty polished in parts,
the horns never disappoint, so Fogdub and Brass Band Mission
send out strong smoke signals. T Sisters acapella goes
hootenany on “Three Little Birds.” Some songs get really
altered which is always the challenge for a cover, “Turn
Your Lights Down Low” starts with a water music string
quartet and sultry Silke siren before Boots from the Coup
drops in for some bars, violin blitz hits too. Sean Hayes
tiptoes while “Waiting in Vain” with a soft spider guitar
line. Color me impressed by Empress Unification (this
cover of “Exodus” was the track Spliff dropped that caught
my ear). The album was curated if not birthed by Dr. Rupa
Mayra who takes a shaman’s hand and gently crafts out their
cover of “Heathen.” Broun Fellini’s jazz triphop take on
“Natural Mystic” drifts pretty high with Femi Andrades
soaring voice. Black Nature from the Sierra Leone Refugee
All Stars, gets down to “Jamming” some nice hiccup drums.
Burning Spear (aka Winston Rodney) is a stalwart of serious roots reggae music. This is the live performance of a great in-depth collection of tracks representing almost four decades of work. The tracks are all energetic, swaying, and rolling with a great bass-line and punctured with a great horn section. Complete with a skewering of Columbus and Slavery, as well as tributes to Marcus Garvey, Haile Salassie, and … Jerry Garcia.
Favorites: Tumble Down, Marcus Garvey, Slavery Days, Not Stupid
Lots of cool jazzified-reggae and some instrumental funk from local artist. Has very nice roots bass lines, with plenty of sax, keyboards, and guitar melodies woven in. Vox on last track Woman Be Free. Also, an array of other interesting instruments appearing: sitar, tabla, baritone sax, and melodica.
Favorites: Praying Mantis, Not Even, Desert Sand, Heartbeat
The second studio album from Luciano, released in
1996, which resulted in him being anointed as the
best vocalist in the Jamaican reggae scene, a title
which has lasted him ever since. Formed out a style
reminiscent of Freddie McGregor or Barrington
Levy, he has a fantastic tenor voice, excellent
riddims, and delivers a positive Rastafari message
in a time when many vocalists were relying on a
more ???slack style???. Soulful, uplifting, and musically
Gary Himelfarb aka Dr. Dubenstein aka Doctor Dread hands
at the invisible helm, guiding the theremin over some
tasty dub action. Liner notes talk about dub’s beginnings
and the desire for the space dubstination, and how the
theremin’s haunting, alien vibe fits in nicely by hand.
Or it can stand next to the melodica and sort of fly
above a bassline like on “Muchas Gracias”. On “Shotgun”
it adds some zip to a soul-flavored dub of Dave & Ansell
Collins “Double Barrel”. Police saucer siren moves over
the horns and bongos of “U Mad?” Don Carlos’ plea in
“Hear My Motion” has synth kinda nubbed on the low end
and wavering on the high, so the theremin just crests
over all of that. “Tief Dem a Tief” could roll into an
old 808 techno set, the theremin is pretty subdued in
that one. Bob Dylan’s “I and I” is served up on “I For
an Eye” (Dread produced the popular “Is It Rolling Bob”
collection KFJC added almost a decade ago). “Equality”
is another heavy hitter, well tripped out. Hard to go
wrong here, and how many CD’s come up with a pop-up
art inside and a geography test on the back?