The Breadwinners – a one man show directed by a lad called Al – has dropped a discomix extravaganza on Horus Records. Far As I Can See and Mr Landlord recall mid 70s Jamaica and especially Lee “Scratch” Perry’s work at his famous Black Ark studio. Two raw vocal cuts by City Culture and Stevie are followed by their gritty dub and instrumental counterparts.
Another all-analogue scorcher comes from Israel and Jamaica courtesy of Kalbata & Mixmonster featuring veteran vocalist Little John and organ maestro Kutiman.
Prisoner in Love is the first singles taken from Kalbata & Mixmonster’s debut album Congo Beat the Drum, set for release on April 28 on vinyl, CD and digital download.
When recording the mellow and down-tempo Prisoner in Love Kalbata & Mixmonster aimed for getting the spirit of the late King Tubby and the early dancehall era of the late 70s and early 80s. For this purpose they used a 16-track tape machine and an old analogue mixing desk as their main instruments.
Little John’s singing floats easily on top of the dreamy piano and the deep bass lines. The flip is owned by Kutiman’s organ, who delivers a killer instrumental in proper old school Jamaica style.
Both releases are directly aimed at fans of well-produced and vintage Jamaican roots and early dancehall.
Radical drops on April 15 and is one of Sizzla’s three albums during the first four months of 2014. It’s a compilation of rare and previously unreleased material produced by the late Philip “Fattis” Burrell between the early 90s and 2000s.
This great producer worked with Sizzla during his formative years and helped to create some of the prolific singer’s best work to date, including Praise Ye Jah, by some regarded as his breakthrough album.
Radical collects 16 tracks and has been compiled together with Philip Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell and features live instrumentation from Jamaican studio aces like Sly Dunbar, Steven Stanley, Earl “Chinna” Smith and Dean Fraser.
Digikiller/Deeper Knowledge Records have found ten unreleased Scientist dubs and collected them on an album titled The Dub Album They Didn’t Want You to Hear!.
Nine of the tracks are dub versions of Flick Wilson’s School Days album and one is a dub from Wayne Jarrett’s What’s Wrong With the Youths set. Both albums were originally released by Jah Life.
This set is described by the label as classic Scientist 1980 style mixing. This usually means hard and sparse with focus on the bare essentials – bass and drums.
The Dub Album They Didn’t Want You to Hear! is currently only available on LP.
French producer and mixing engineer Kanka is a household name for fans of dubwise and bass heavy music. His fourth and latest album Watch Your Step – the first on his own label Dubalistik – comes with twelve muscular and scorching dance floor destroyers.
This is a mostly instrumental electro dub set with vocal duties shared between Echo Ranks, El Fata and YT. It has an intense rhythmic energy and the tempo is often high with repetitive percussion, ridiculously weighty bass lines and merciless drums. But several of the tunes also have an melodic edge, just listen to the keys on the uplifting Spring or the eeriehorns on Rainbow Dub.
This album will have your apartment or house vibrating along with the hypnotic sound of sharp and electronic dub. Warrior style.
Music journalist and Wax Poetics contributor Seb Carayol has curated an exhibition in Los Angeles where visitors can see King Tubby’s original sound system – Hometown Hi-Fi. On display are unique items from the 60s along with photos by Pekka Vuorinen, Tero Kaski and Beth Lesser as well as several films about reggae – Babylon, Deep Roots Music and Musically Mad.
Together with the exhibition comes a short film telling the history of sound system culture with commentaries by Seb Carayol and cameos by Scientist and Mad Professor.
This exhibition and short film show an often overlooked and important part of music history. It’s an exploration of the dub and sound system movement dating back to the 50s and 60s. It’s also the story of how a small island in the Caribbean launched a new way of experiencing and listening to music.
If you are into reggae and dancehall and haven’t heard about the young and versatile Chronixx you have probably lived in a cave or under a rock for the past year or so.
This relaxed singer has released a string of strong singles and excellent additions to one riddim compilations. A few of these are included on his debut album Dread & Terrible, a ten track set – seven vocal cuts and three dub versions – that offers tough reality roots, hip-hop-inspired dancehall and early skinhead reggae reminiscent of vintage Joe Gibbs or Clancy Eccles.
Four different producers have been involved in the project – John John, Overstand Productions, Special Delivery and ZincFence. And the 21 year old Chronixx has also been heavily committed. He has written all the songs and has also been instrumental in composing, recording and mixing all the tracks. Really impressive for such a young talent.
There are plenty of prolific Jamaican artists (Sizzla, anyone?), but Chronixx isn’t one of those artists that jump on each and every riddim offered. His output has been rather scarce compared to several other singers and deejays. And that’s a good thing in this digital age when iTunes and other e-tailers are swamped with poorly produced and poorly mastered singles and albums.
Chronixx and a few others from his generation have chosen a different path, a path that is guided by quality rather than quantity. Chronixx and his management could probably have rushed an album, but I’m glad they didn’t. Dread & Terrible is solid, and that might not have been the case if it had reached the streets a year ago.
Fans of bands such as Soja and Groundation from the U.S. and Dub Inc from France should head over to the nearest record store or digital retailer. The reason is Danakil and their latest album Entre les lignes (between the lines in English).
This nine piece outfit has for the past 14 years or so toured extensively and released three studio albums, two live sets and one dub effort mixed by Manjul.
They have previously worked together with Jah Mason, Mighty Diamonds and General Levy. On Entre les lignes – their fourth studio set – they have invited roots warriors Twinkle Brothers as well as Natty Jean and Harrison Stafford and Marcus Urani from the previously mentioned Groundation.
Danakil – the name taken from a Ethiopian desert – offer a potent blend of roots reggae, rock and pop flavoured with some African influences, with the majority of the songs sung in French.
Entre le lignes has particularly tasty horn parts, especially the lovely saxophone solo on Les Signes and the melancholic brass on Ne touche pas and L’or noir.
Danakil has presented a set with mostly classic and smoky reggae grooves, sometimes with a dash of rock and with a strong African touch.
UK-based singer Alpheus teamed up with renowned Spanish producer Roberto Sánchez about four years ago and in 2011 the acclaimed album From Creation was released. It was a step in a new and different direction for both Alpheus and Roberto Sánchez.
From Creation was not the usual European one drop or hard Channel One roots reggae. It was something completely different – soulful rocksteady and swinging ska.
Now this duo has a new album – Good Prevails. It collects 14 tracks, of which two are melodica instrumentals. It also offers a mix of fresh originals and re-vitalized versions of riddims created by Coxsone Dodd, Phil Pratt and Winston Riley.
Good Prevails hits the streets on LP and CD on April 28. If you can’t wait to hear how it sounds, check Our Strength taken from the album.
UK reggae punksters The Skints have come a long way since their debut album Live, Breathe, Build, Believe. That set was more or less punk with reggae influences, while their latest, and Prince Fatty-produced albumPart & Parcel, was the opposite – reggae with punk attitude.
On the brand new four track EP Short Change they take another leap forward incorporating more grimey hip-hop in their urban and eclectic sound. And this cutting-edge set offers both filthy bass lines and sounds of the summer.
The excellent lead single The Cost of Living is Killing Me comments on the current economic climate and has vocalist Josh Waters Rudge delivering a gritty cockney rap complemented by drummer Jamie Kyriakides and the multi-talented Marcia Griffiths singing both verses and the chorus. Three vocalist on one tune work really well and the recipe is copied on all three vocal tracks.
The Skints certainly have an ability to transcend genres and they are not afraid of breaking boundaries to create refreshing beats and infectious hooks.
Really looking forward to the announced, but not yet scheduled, new album.
Clinton Fearon has managed to accomplish something that few other roots reggae heroes from the 60s and 70s have – to continue to release consistent and excellent albums in the 21st century. This ex-Gladiator’s solo output is just as great as the music he released together with Albert Griffiths and Gallimore Sutherland.
And his brand new album Goodness is no exception. Far from it. This 13 track album is just as great as his two previous sets Heart & Soul and Mi Deh Yah.
It was recorded in Seattle – where Clinton Fearon has lived since he relocated from Jamaica in the late 80s – and produced by himself. It’s a vibrant and earthy album that only collects freshly skanking originals packed with affecting harmonies, electrifying arrangements and unexpected instruments such as flute and strings.
Clinton Fearon rustic and unpolished tone is a joy listening to. And it suits the pulsating riddims and uplifting and joyous spirit of the album very, very well.
Clinton Fearon’s music has always been rooted in the classic sounds of the 70s with real instrumentation and live drums, horns and bass. Goodness – or should I say Greatness – is yet another fine example of how Clinton Fearon and his Boogie Brown Band takes the reggae legacy to the present day.
Goodness was released on March 24 in Europe and hits the U.S. on May 17.