Tag Archives: Greensleeves

Barry Brown’s Right Now rightfully reissued

The late dancehall singer Barry Brown had a short but prolific career, and was at his best in the latter half of the 70’s and the first part of the 80’s with tracks such as No Wicked Shall Enter, Lead Us Jah Jah and Far East, probably his most well-known tune.

Greensleeves has recently reissued one of his more unknown albums – Right Now. It was produced by Jah Screw, backed by Roots Radics and We the People Band and originally released in 1984. The backing and the riddims are sparse and crisp yet vividly powerful with the bass and the drums being in the front on each cut.

Barry Brown’s youthful and heartfelt voice flows nicely over several well-seasoned riddims, including Shank I Sheck, Cuss Cuss and Drum Song.

Right Now is available on CD and on digital platforms and includes a string of bonus material – Tristan Palma’s Nuh Shot Nuh Fire, as twinned with Barry Brown’s Jukes And Watch on the original Greensleeves 12”, dub versions of each Barry Brown vocal and Mafia, a wicked take on the Rockfort Rock riddim and described as a sound system favorite in the press material.

The 20 tracks are ruthless early Jamaican dancehall and the bonus dub cuts really show the strength of each riddim.

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An educational reggae history lesson from VP Records

VP Records’ Out of Many – 50 Years of Reggae Music is the fourth various artists compilation album to celebrate 50 years of Jamaican independence that I’ve come across in the past weeks.

This three disc compilation is chronologically compiled with one track per year over 50 years taken from VP’s and Greensleeves’ huge reggae vaults. Included are gems such as Lord Creator’s mento/calypso Independent Jamaica, Nicky Thomas’ Jamaican mixed version of Love of the Common People, Barrington Levy’s mighty Here I Come and the smash hits Get Busy and Hold You from Sean Paul and Gyptian respectively.

Included are also the odd – in this context anyway – Smoking My Ganja by Capital Letters, Hello Darling from Tippa Irie and Ninjaman & Ninja Ford’s The Return of Father & Son. Not bad tunes per se, but they don’t fit the compilation. This is actually also the case with the Horsepower Production’s dubstep remix of Yellowman’s Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.

There is unfortunately no dub or nynabinghi included, but the gender distribution is way better than Island Records’ Jamaica 50 compilation Sound System: The Story of Jamaican Music reviewed about a month ago.

In VP’s history lesson they’ve included eight female singers, among them Lady Saw, Etana and Marcia Aitken.

The brief liner notes are written by reggae historian Noel Hawkes and puts reggae – and its many sub genres – as well as the history of VP Records in context.

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Keith Hudson galore

Almost 30 years after his untimely death only 38 years old, the one and only Keith Hudson is perhaps hotter than ever before.

Greensleeves has recently reissued a deluxe two CD version of his Rasta Communication album and Sunspot has reissued his first album Furnace.

On top of this Vincent Ellis and Jean Scrivener have published an illustrated Keith Hudson discography in the form of pdf files on a DVD-ROM. It contains a comprehensive listing of albums, singles, compilations, riddims and productions of other artists as well as cover art and additional information.

Keith Hudson is a key artist in the development of reggae and a producer, songwriter and arranger with a uniquely deep and atmospheric style. His first hit song was Ken Boothe’s excellent Old Fashion Way released in 1968, and Keith Hudson was also the producer who provided Big Youth with his breakthrough hit – the Honda motorbike tribute S. 90 Skank.

Furnace was originally issued in 1972 on Hudson’s own Inbidimts label and includes twelve tracks with riddims supplied by relentless Soul Syndicate band and vocals courtesy of Dennis Alcapone, U Roy Junior and Keith Hudson himself, who has an unorthodox and non melodic singing style, not to everybody’s taste.

The exquisite sleeve notes to Furnace, provided by the aforementioned Vincent Ellis, give a detailed overview of the album and a comment to each of the twelve tunes.

Five years after the release of Furnace Keith Hudson dropped the dub album Brand, also known as The Joint. It was oddly enough released a year before its vocal counterpart Rasta Communication. Both of these albums are now put out in a deluxe two CD package complete with several hard to find bonus cuts and extended versions, including the previously unreleased dub version to I Broke the Comb.

The riddims on Rasta Communication are sparse and strained, and uses only guitar, bass, drums and keys. The vocals are solely handled by Keith Hudson, and the mixes on Rasta Communication in Dub are edgy and grim.

Keith Hudson’s music may not be for everyone, but these albums show an artist and a producer with an individual style and many years ahead of his time.

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Odd selection of one drop anthems

VP/Greensleeves’ The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems compilation is back after a one year absence. This sixth edition is released in the same style as the 2009 version – a single CD with no bonus DVD or extra treat. You get 17 tunes from both well-known artists and lesser-known ones.

But this release differs from the previous versions in one particular respect – I can’t seem to find any smash hits. And I can’t figure out the selection criteria. There are several important tunes missing – Let’s Do it Again by J Boog (or any cut on the Major riddim), Tarrus Riley’s Never Leave I, Sizzla’s Ghetto Youth’s Rise or Times Like These by Queen Ifrica being just four examples.

Nevertheless, there is some great music included. Romain Virgo is in fine shape on the majestic I Am Rich in Love, and so is the late J.O.E on Rasta Chant. The most familiar tune is probably Put the Stereo On by Gappy Ranks, a tune also included on his debut album.

There is also some U.S. reggae represented. Midnite with their How to Answa and Alone from The Green. VP/Greensleeves have also put in Gentleman’s Changes, a tune released in 2009. The reason is probably that this German singjay is about to move into the U.S. market.

Despite several odd picks The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2011 is a fairly good introduction to the one drop scene 2010-2011.

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Alborosie makes you smile

Italian-born Jamaican resident Alborosie is back with 2 Times Revolution, his third album to date. It is jam-packed with his distinctive heavy patois singjay-style and has influences from Europe, the Caribbean and North and South America.

2 Times Revolution is both accessible and complex. Accessible because of the infectious melodies and grooves on tunes such as the sun drenched Grow Your Dreads with its wicked piano or the rolling Soul Train. Complex because of the many styles, influences and novelties utilized. However, that is also one of the album’s several strengths.

Because this is an album that makes you happy. And it is obvious that Alborosie has had a blast in the studio when he recorded and produced 2 Times Revolution. Raggamuffin is probably the best example. Or the Manu Chao-like La Revolucion with its acoustic guitar and melancholic trumpet.

The digital release of this album features the bonus track Games. Be sure to check that one out. It is a great 80’s inspired tune somewhat similar to Games People Play, originally recorded by Joe South, but covered to great effect by Bob Andy in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

If this album will start one or two revolutions remains to be seen. But if this is the soundtrack to the revolution you will certainly find me in the frontline along with Pupa Albo. Viva!

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Alborosie craves revolution

Alborosie is back with his upcoming album 2 Times Revolution, the follow-up to his acclaimed Escape From Babylon set released in 2009. This Italian-born Jamaican resident uses his music to start not one, but two, revolutions. To Reggaemani he reveals why, and also makes a public announcement.

Alborosie's new album drops on June 20 in Europe and June 21 in the U.S.

Alberto D’ Ascola was born in Messina on the Italian island of Sicily 33 years ago. In the year 2000 he decided to take the next step in life and move to Jamaica.

“I needed something different. I came here because I was sick of Italy. I did not come here to be an artist. I could have been a fisherman, It just happened that I started at Geejam,” says Alborosie on the phone from Kingston, and continues:

“Jamaica is the place to be, and I have lived here for eleven years now. First time I visited was in 94’. From then on I went three times a year. Jamaica is my home. You will never bring me back to Europe. This is me right now. I have a house, a studio. This is where I belong, even though I have strong Italian roots.”

Alborosie is relaxed, laughs a lot and speaks excellent patois. It is actually hard to hear that he originates from Italy. Now that the album is about to be put out he is preparing for the usual European tour, as he puts it.

New influences
He says that 2 Times Revolution describes his reggae journey so far.

“It has some latin and hip-hop ingredients. Not very different from my other albums,” he explains, and continues:

“I have always been influenced by latin music. This is just my first tribute. I was like, let’s do it this time. I have wanted to do it for a long time. Latin is magic. Latin music is great, and I have it in me.”

Need a change
Alborosie is a rebel, and does things his own way and in his own style. The title of the new album gives a rather straightforward message.

“We need a revolution,” he says, and explains:

“We need a spiritual revolution and a musical revolution. We need to fight back. People are not happy. Revolution is evolution. The music is suffering, especially reggae. Now it is hype music, music that is not long lasting. We need to bring back the sound from whence it came.”

It is obvious that Alborosie has given this a lot of thought, and he wants to see a change in the direction of reggae music.

“There is the new Jamaican music that the young people want. But it is not the only way. I guarantee that on Sunday, they will play old school roots and culture here.”

He sometimes gives the impression that he is preaching when we speak. He has his arguments and the goal is set – reggae needs its roots.

“I am on a mission. It is me. I am a vintage guy. I am an old man in a young man’s body, he chuckles, and adds:

“The Hennessy hype is not for me. I am not saying that people should not enjoy the hype, but let’s not lose the foundation.”

Does most by himself
In the press release of the new album, Alborosie says that he is not thinking about himself as doing reggae anymore – he is doing Jahspel.

“Christians do gospel. I’m a revolutionary Christian so I do Jahspel,” he explains like it is the most obvious thing in the world.

Alborosie is a multi-faceted musician. He is usually credited for production, engineering, composing and arranging as well as for playing a number of instruments. He has also built his own guitar, shown on the album cover.

“I am going to build a keyboard and drums next,” he chuckles.

He also has his own studio. He is like the essence of the DIY-movement.

“I have always done everything by myself. I am in the studio for six to seven months, so Specialist comes to the studio and checks the production. I lose perception, and it is difficult. That is why I have a split personality – Alberto D’Ascola, the producer, and Alborosie, the artist,” he laughs.

No expectations
Even though Alborosie’s last album was a success and his concerts are well attended, he explains that he does not have any expectations on 2 Times Revolution.

“If I like the music, I am good with it. It is success for me. It is a celebration for reggae. I do not care for money, f*** money. I work with the Most High. I never have any expectations in life. Time will tell.”

Alborosie has in his career put out loads of duets with both familiar artists as well as lesser known ones. Last year he even put out the two disc duet compilation Alborosie & Friends.

Public announcement
On the new album he teams up with Junior Reid and Etana, both artists with whom he has worked with previously. When I ask what artist he would like to get the opportunity to work with he is silent for a few seconds, and then fires off in a serious tone.

“I am going to make a public announcement. I want to work with Bob Marley. Let me do one song with him, please. Give me one a capella. I want to do a form of remix. One day, one day,” he dreams.

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Greensleeves and VP inna dubstep style

Late last year Greensleeves and VP Records announced that their back catalogue was to get a remix treatment by dubstep artists for a new vinyl series. The first release was a remix of Yellowman’s classic Zunguzunguguzungguzeng.

Now it’s time for another three releases. First out is Pampidoo’s Synthesizer Voice that gets a mad re-construction by Japan’s Goth-Trad, one of the major artists on the Japanese dubstep scene.

Coki-Digital Mystikz takes on Badman Place, a Busy Signal and Mavado duet. This one is furious in its sonic treatment.

Dubstep giant The Bug mashes Ding Dong’s dancehall anthem Badman Forward Badman Pull Up from 2006. The Bug has invited MC Flow Dan from Roll Deep to go head to head with Ding Dong. The result is vicious.

All three tunes come with a version, and if you like dubstep you probably need to check these three releases out.

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Fascinating album from Ziggi Recado

There’s a new Ziggi in town. His last name is Recado and he has got a brand new reinvented sound on his third album. It’s an adventurous blend of reggae, soul, hip-hop, funk and rock.

One thing that has remained from his previous albums is his vocal style. It’s rebellious, cool and edgy.

Most of the production is handled by Ziggi Recado himself and the majority of the tracks are recorded together with his live band The Renaissance Band. And the live feeling is present through most of the album.

Ziggi Recado celebrates musicianship and careful production. There are pleasant surprises on almost every single track.

Just listen to the beautiful and organic Can’t Stop Me Now built around a laid back rock guitar. It starts with guitar, moaning saxophone and funky drums. Then it’s just Ziggi Recado and the guitar. Along the way it adds organ, percussion, drums, bass and strings. You’ve to wait over three minutes until the song is complete in its instrumentation.

Real Talk showcases his vocal capabilities, when he sings both in a high Prince style and then switches to his usual singjay approach.

Reggae purists also get their share too. The heartfelt single Mary produced by Special Delivery, the Omar Perry/Tippa Irie duet Jah Alone on Curtis Lynch’s Gorilla riddim and the pumping Maikal X duet This Year are contemporary one drops in fine style.

Whether or not you like the genre mixing of distorted funk rock, psychedelic Prince-styled soul and reggae riddims you have to be fascinated by this bold, remarkable and unexpected set of songs.

Ziggi Recado has been available in the Netherlands since April and is released internationally on June 20th.

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Frankie Paul’s most wanted

Frankie Paul made his record debut only in his teens. He was influenced by singers such as Dennis Brown and Stevie Wonder, but soon developed his own charismatic and more dancehall oriented style.

In the mid 80’s he scored some huge hit songs for producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes, including Jump No Fence and the ganja anthem Pass the Tu Sheng Peng. Both are included on Greensleeves’ recent Frankie Paul Most Wanted set.

After working with dancehall don Lawes he moved on and started working for a majority of Jamaica’s top producers, and he was extremely productive during these years.

Album after album and hit after hit followed. Among them the energetic Tidal Wave for George Phang, the Dennis Brown relick Cassandra for Steely & Clevie and the radio friendly Sara for King Jammy.

Frankie Paul Most Wanted contains some timeless classics and is a great introduction to this great singer.

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Ziggi Recado breaks new ground

Dutch singjay Ziggi Recado has recently put out his third full length album in Holland, and on June 6 it drops worldwide. Reggaemani has spoken to a reggae star that has travelled new paths and is now also acknowledged as a producer.

Ziggi Recado

Photo by Bill Tanaka

Ziggi Recado – formerly only Ziggi – rose to prominence in 2006 when he put out his Rock N Vibes produced debut album So Much Reasons. Since then a lot has changed for this 30 year old singer.

He has now three albums and one EP on his list of merits. On top of this he can now also label himself as a producer. On Ziggi Recado – his new self-titled album – he is recognized for the major part of the production. And this is something that seems to have had great impact on his sound.

New sound, instant success
Because Ziggi Recado is not an ordinary reggae album. It is a fusion of reggae, soul, pop, funk and rock. Surprisingly no dancehall. If you have heard the Cody Chesnutt & The Roots inspired first single Get Out you probably get the feeling.

“I’m happy about it. It’s the best Ziggi album ever. It’s different from my previous albums. I produced a lot of it and I think I turned it into a great reggae album,” says Ziggi Recado over the phone.

The album have been an instant success in his home country, hitting number 1 in the iTunes Reggae Charts, number 41 in the general iTunes charts and also debuted as number 51 in the Dutch album top 100 charts. Not bad for a reggae album. And Ziggi seems pleased.

“I’m very happy that the album has become a success in Holland. It remains difficult for black music in Holland and it’s hard to get attention,” he says, and continues:

“In Holland people know me as a reggae artist and many have looked forward to this album. It was anticipated,” he concludes.

Important not to be boring
Ziggi Recado certainly is a diverse effort, and Ziggi himself believes that it can attract more people. Important for him is also to show something new and to be interesting.

“For me it’s important not to be boring. No traditional way, no traditional sound. The last CD was more traditional. I needed to do something different and I think it really stands out. I have created something new,” he believes.

The new album was a natural progression according to Ziggi.Ziggi Recado

“When I did my first album I had just started doing music. I now know what I want to do. It is a progression for me,” he says, and adds:

“This is me right now, but I want to keep evolving and developing.”

Influenced by life
When I ask Ziggi about his influences I thought that I would get a bunch of artists or groups. I for instance thought of some hip-hoppers or soul outfits. But no.

“What influenced me is probably my family. The clock was ticking and I was having my second child. He was one month old when I started to record the album. It motivated me to get something done. Life was my motivation I guess,” he suggests.

The album was recorded with The Renaissance Band and they worked very close.

“It was a pure feeling. I’d get an idea for a song and then create it and get the picture together with my band. I’m lucky to have done the production with my band. They know what I want. I was free. We work very well together.”

Wants to work with Wyclef
Ziggi reveals that he would like to produce other artists as well.

“I’ve done a few productions in the past, but this is the first time that I’ve done a whole project. Now people can acknowledge me as a producer,” he says, and continues:

“I’d like the opportunity to work with Wyclef. I’m a huge fan. And Shabba [Ranks], the legacy, the great.”

No expectations
Even though the album already has done well in his home ground, he is very down to earth with his expectations on the international release.

“I try to except the least. I Hope for the best and expect the worse. But people should like it. I’ve got positive reactions so far. But nowadays with music it’s hard to tell. The most important is to take my music to a higher stage, and then I’ve reached my main goal.”

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If you’re curious on the new album – listen to the K-Salaam & Beatnick produced promo mix below.


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