Anticipated reggae albums in 2016

Just when the dust has cleared off all best of 2015 lists it’s time for yet another list. This time putting focus on what’s about to come in 2016. And it certainly looks promising.

For the list below we’ve scanned social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find information on reggae albums to be put out in 2016. We also reached out to artists, labels, management and PR firms to learn more about 2016.

Below are over 80 releases; mostly albums – reissues and new recordings – from artists and groups from all over the world. The majority of the releases are to be found in the not yet scheduled section. Several artists – like Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Jah9, Sizzla, Major Lazer, Alborosie and Brinsley Forde – have announced release plans, but with no set date or album title.

Read the list and add your favorites to the calendar. Enjoy!

Note: originally published on United Reggae.

Artist – title (label)

JANUARY
Fantan Mojah – Soul Rasta (Young Veterans)
Fourth album from this instantly recognizable singer and singjay. First single off the album – the Capleton and Turbulence combination Kingston Town – was released on January 1 and the album was put out on January 8.

Black Roots – Son of Man (Soulbeats)
Drops on January 22 and is described as classic Black Roots.

Various – Studio One Showcase (Soul Jazz)
Brings together a selection of classic tracks from Horace Andy, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne, Lone Ranger, Sugar Minott, The Heptones, Wailing Souls and other reggae artists. All cuts recorded at Studio One in the 1970s. Drops on January 23.

Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari – Tales of Mozambique (Soul Jazz)
Rare and ground-breaking album originally released in 1975 and now reissued in an expanded format with the inclusion of two rare single-only tracks, full sleeve notes, exclusive photographs and an interview. Drops on January 29.

Bosse Skoglund & Zilverzurf – Mantra Sessions (Playground)
Swedish duo exploring Indian mantras set to a reggae, dub and jazz backdrop. Slated for release on January 29.

Various artists – Boat to Progress (VP Records)
Glen Brown is responsible for productions on this compilation, which collects a number of vocal cuts from singers such as Gregory Isaacs, Little Roy and Johnny Clarke. Originally put out in 1989 on Greensleeves and now set for release on January 29.

Various artists – Check the Winner (VP Records)
Reissue of this compilation with Glen Brown productions. Collects instrumentals from the man himself along with cuts from Tommy McCook, Bobby Aitken and Bobby Ellis. Originally released in 1989 on Greensleeves and now slated for release on January 29.

Various artists – Dubble Attack (VP Records)
Reissue of this deejay compilation with Glen Brown productions. Originally put out in 1989 on Greensleeves and now up for release on January 29.

FEBRUARY
Léah Rosier – Only Irie Vibes (Dibyz Music)
Debut album from the Dutch singer. Drops on February 5.

Lady Saw – Reggae Legends Box Set (VP Records)
Collects a number of strong albums from this pioneering dancehall deejay. Slated for release on February 5.

Luciano – Reggae Legends Box Set (VP Records)
Collects a number of strong albums from one of the most productive modern roots singers. Set for release on February 5.

Taj Weekes & Adowa – Love Herb & Reggae (Jatta)
After being delayed several times St. Lucian singer Taj Weekes and his band Adowa will drop their fifth album Love Herb & Reggae. The set is slated for release on February 12 and the title is a reference and an answer to the decades old mantra “sex, drugs and rock & roll”.

Horace Andy – In the Light Deluxe & In the Light Dub (VP Records)
Deluxe reissue of this hard-to-find original which was actually reissued in 1995 by Blood & Fire Records. Both sets – the vocal and the dub – drop on February 19.

Various artists – Original Rockers Deluxe (VP Records)
Deluxe reissue of this classic compilation which collects a number of lethal and ethereal cuts. Slated for release on February 19.

Skin, Flesh & Bones – Dub in Blood (Pressure Sounds)
Rare dub album produced by the great Phil Pratt and originally released on his Sunshot label in the mid-70s. Expected on February 19.

DJ Vadim – Dubcatcher IIWicked Ma Yout (Soulbeats)
Follow up the insanely bouncy Dubcatcher album. Drops on February 19.

David Isaacs – Jah Love I (Pressure Sounds)
10” produced by Phil Pratt. Expected in February.

Daddy Mory – Travail D’Artiste
Daddy Mory is a legendary French reggae artist and started his career as part of successful duo Raggasonic. This is a solo album produced by the acclaimed Frenchie of Maximum Sound. Expected in mid-February.

Natty & The Rebel Ship – Release the Fear
Second album from this UK roots singer. First single off the album was Gaia, which came with a dub mix provided by Prince Fatty. Slated for release on February 29.

Assassin aka Agent Sasco – Theory of Reggaetivity (Germaica)
After several successful cross-over collaborations – Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Raekwon – this gruff-voiced dancehall deejay drops his first reggae album.

Warrior King – The Roots Warrior
Warrior King’s fifth album – and his first in five years – and according to the singer it’s his first time working with producers from outside Jamaica. Included is lead single Ain’t Giving Up and a number of collaborations, for example with Beres Hammond and Richie Spice.

MARCH
Various – The Bristol Roots Explosion (Bristol Archive Records)
Nine tracks of classic UK roots reggae including two previously unreleased tracks. Drops on March 4.

Wyman Low & The Ravers – Trippin’ (Khanti)
Reggae band from France. Drops on March 4.

Unified Highway – Unified Highway
U.S. reggae band Rebelution’s front man Eric Rachmany has teamed up with DJ/producer Amp Live for the project Unified Highway.  The duo released the first single Stand Proud – which features Shana Halligan, Keznamdi and New Kingston’s Tahir Panton on vocals – off their debut album last year. The album is expected on March 4.

Perfect Giddimani – Reggae Farm Work (Irie Ites)
New album from the highly productive Perfect. Initially slated for release in 2014, but delayed and will now be out on Irie Ites Records on March 4.

Mighty Mystic – The Art of Balance (Roots Musician Records)
Jamaican-born and U.S.-bred singer drops his third album on March 11, a set following Concrete World which included the superb Cali Green.

Rising Tide – TBA (Soulbeats)
New project from members from U.S. reggae giants Groundation. First single Is It Right was released in December. Drops on March 18.

Max Romeo & Daniel Boyle – TBA
Expected to be in the same vein as Daniel Boyle’s Lee Perry collaboration Back on the Controls. Slated for release sometime in March.

Hornsman Coyote & Soulcraft – Safe Planet (Ammonite Records & PDV)
Second album from this Serbian collective fronted by veteran trombone player Hornsman Coyote. First single off the album was Glorious and it will be followed by Plastic Smiling Face. Expected sometime in March.

Black Slate – Peaceful Demonstration
Legendary reunited reggae band from the UK. First single off this album – Should I Stay or Should I Go – was released last year. Slated for release in March 31.

Big Red – TBA
French singer and deejay Big Red – one half of acclaimed duo Raggasonic – drops an album.

APRIL
Yellam – The Musical Train (Irie Ites)
A taste of this album was presented on the eclectic EP Get on Board, released in 2015. Produced by France’s Irie Ites crew and expected on April 1.

Ackboo – Invincible (Khanti)
Heavy dub and electro business from France. Slated for release on April 1.

Takana Zion – Good Life (Soulbeats)
One of the best African reggae artists with a number of solid efforts on the market. His fifth album drops April 29.

Various artists – Compendulum at the Controls (Sugar Shack)
Remix album on Sugar Shack Records.

Various artists – Rolling with Bunny Lee and Friends [working title] (Pressure Sounds)
Album collection Bunny Lee productions from 1971-1974. Expected in late April.

MAY
Various artists – Midlands Roots Explosion Volume Two (Reggae Archive Records)
Follow up to the successful first volume that was released in 2015.

JUNE
I Kong – TBA (Fruits Records)
Second album from the legendary I Kong on Fruits Records. Includes guest performances from Raging Fyah and Ken Boothe among a few others. Mixed by the acclaimed Roberto Sánchez and expected sometime in June.

Professor Crew – One Dance
New project from Groundation’s front man Harrison Stafford, aka Professor. Musicians involved include Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace on drums, Errol “Flabba” Holt on bass, Dalton Browne on guitar and Obeah Denton on keyboards. The album was recorded at Harry J Studio in Kingston. Expected in May.

NOT YET SCHEDULED
Alborosie – Freedom & Fire (VP Records)
Two singles off this new album have already been put out – Poser and Rocky Road – and they are classic Puppa Albo.

Akae Beka – TBA (I Grade Records)
New musical project from Midnite’s lead singer and front man Vaughn Benjamin. First album was released in November last year and this is one of two albums scheduled for release in 2016.

Akae Beka – TBA (Zion High Productions)
Another set from Vaughn Benjamin’s – lead singer and front man in Midnite – new musical project that is scheduled for release in 2016. This one via U.S. production trio Zion I Kings.

Bitty McLean – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Not yet titled new album that will follows up on his beautiful EP Heart, Mind & Soul. Expected in first half of 2016.

Brinsley Forde – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Not yet titled album from the former Aswad lead vocalist produced by Sly & Robbie and Guillaume Bougard and mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle. Expected in first half of 2016.

Bugle – TBA (Germaica)
New EP from the deep-voiced and increasingly conscious Bugle. Slated for release during the first quarter of 2016.

Christopher Martin – TBA (VP Records)
Probably one of the greatest singer of the new Jamaican generation. His EP from last year – Steppin Razor – included several major cuts, including the boastful I’m a Big Deal.

Chronixx – TBA
Debut album from this much celebrated singer. Expected around June or July and will be followed by a worldwide tour.

Daddy Rings – In the Streets
Veteran Jamaican deejay that has been living in Germany for many years. The first single off the album is the dubstep-ish Gentleman collaboration In the Streets.

Da’ville – TBA (Germaica)
Sweet-voiced and romantic reggae singer responsible for the mighty My Grade. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Danakil – TBA
Popular French band that has announced a new album slated for release in the third or fourth quarter of 2016.

Denham Smith – TBD (Irievibrations) 
His second EP, and his first for Austria’s Irievibrations Records, is expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Derajah – The First Book
New album from Jamaican singer Derajah, who got his big break working with acclaimed guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and his Inna De Yard project. First single off the album – The Time is Now – won United Reggae’s production competition.

Ernest Ranglin – Boss Reggae (Dub Store Records)
Instrumental late 60s early reggae business produced by Richard Khouri and arranged by Ken Lazarus. Reissue slated for release during the first quarter of 2016.

Gappy Ranks – Guide Me
Fourth album from this in-demand UK singer and singjay.

The Gladiators – Back to Roots (Patate)
Wicked album originally released in 1982 and reissued in 2000 by Tabou 1. Now the reissue will be made available again thanks to France’s Patate Records. Expected in the first half of 2016.

Gregory Isaacs – Warning (Dub Store Records)
Produced by the late and great King Tubby and backed by The Firehouse Crew. Originally released in 1990 and now set for release in in the first quarter of 2016.

Hempress Sativa – UnconqueRebel (Conquering Lion)
Debut album from Hempress Sativa and the first single off the album Rock It in a Dance – inspired by Papa Michigan & General Smiley’s Studio One classic Nice Up the Dance – bodes very well.

Hollie Cook – TBD
Third and much anticipated album from one of UK’s finest.

J Boog – Wash House Ting
Soulful singer J Boog’s third album is titled after his own studio and label and is expected to drop during the first quarter of 2016.

Jah9 – TBA (Steam Chalice Records)
Second album from Jah9 and the follow-up to her much celebrated debut album New Name. Includes multiple producers and is expected in the second quarter of 2016 with a first single to be released in early February.

Jahcoustix – Seriously Positive (Irievibrations)
Follow-up to his Frequency and its acoustic counterpart Acoustic Frequency. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

John Brown’s Body – TBA (Easy Star Records)
New album from this popular U.S. reggae band is expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Junior Natural – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Swedish singer that made his stage debut at the tender of 12 at Uppsala Reggae Festival. This was about nine years ago and now he has worked with the legendary Sly & Robbie in tandem with Guillaume Bougard. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Kabaka Pyramid – TBA
After two solid long-playing EPs – Lead the Way and Rebel Music – along with several successful singles, including the recent Well Done for Damian Marley, Kabaka Pyramid is finally set to drop his debut album. The set is said to be produced alongside Damian Marley and will drop this year.

Kunley (of Ward 21) – Dangerous Meditations (Germaica)
EP from Ward 21’s Kunley Ward, aka Kunley 21, who voiced a number of riddims last year. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Lutan Fyah – TBA (I Grade Records)
New album from one of Jamaica’s most prolific and popular singjays. Produced by Zion I Kings and scheduled for release last year, but was delayed.

Major Lazer – Music is the Weapon
After their Peace is the Mission album from last year, which featured the international hit Lean On, the Major Lazer trio is set to drop their fourth studio album in the third quarter of 2016.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Hira
Third album from Meta & The Cornerstones. The set was recorded in the UK and is produced by Meta Dia and engineered by acclaimed producer and mixing wizard Shane C. Brown. It features 13 songs and is a celebration of different cultures, influences and religions.

Nattali Rize – TBA
Blue King Brown’s rebellious singer follows up on her and Notis’ solid EP New Era Frequency from last year. Expect productions from Notis and Winta James.

Raging Fyah – Everlasting (VP Records)
This successful Jamaican band signed to VP last year and almost immediately dropped the catchy Kabaka Pyramid combination Dance with Me.

Raphael – Roots Survival [working title] (Irievibrations)
Raphael’s second album for Irievibrations and follow-up to his rootsy Mind vs. Heart. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Romain Virgo – TBA (VP Records)
Romain Virgo’s EP Lifted was released in 2015 and it certainly promised well for his much-anticipated third album.

Shezekiel – Catch the Boat
Pauline Catlin from UK pioneering lovers rock trio Black Sugar is now performing solo and is expected to drop her debut album.

Sizzla – 876
Originally slated for release in 2015, but was never put out. The title refers to the local telephone area code of Jamaica.

Sly & Robbie meet Bitty McLean and Bunny Rugs (Tabou 1/Taxi)
On Record Store Day – April 16 – Music on Vinyl will put out a 10” with two Bitty McLean cuts and one Bunny Rugs track along with a dub produced by Guillaume Bougard and Sly & Robbie.

Sly & Robbie with DJ Winston – Free Dub (Tabou 1/Taxi)
More dubs from Sly & Robbie’s protégé Dartanyan Winston, aka DJ Winston, who worked on the excellent Dubmaster Voyage album released in 2014.

Sly & Robbie meet Robbie Lynn – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Not yet titled album where Sly & Robbie meet key maestro Robbie Lynn for a jazz and funk session. Expected in late 2016.

Various – Clean Heart riddim (Lustre Kings)
Fifth installment of Zion I Kings’ one riddim series and follows the acclaimed Lion of Judah riddim.

Various – Dub in Style (Lustre Kings)
Zion I Kings meets legendary Roots Radics drummer at Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

Various artists – Dub Station [working title] (Irievibrations)
Dub mixes of a variety of artists and cuts from Austria’s premier reggae label Irievibrations. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Various artists – First Class Rock Steady 7” Box Set (VP Records)
Smooth and slick business up for release on vinyl.

Various artists – Havana Meets Kingston
A musical project spearheaded by Australia’s Mista Savona where he has brought together musicians and singers from Jamaica and Cuba in a studio for the first time ever. Featured musicians and artists include several members from Buena Vista Social Club, Sly & Robbie, Ernest Ranglin, Leroy Sibbles, Cornel Campbell, Micah Shemaiah, Randy Valentine, Sizzla, Big Youth and Lutan Fyah. Expected in the first quarter of 2016.

Various – Marketplace riddim (Zion I Kings)
Sixth installment of Zion I Kings’ one riddim series.

Various artists – Tribute to Dennis Brown (VP Records)
A tribute to the Crown Prince of Reggae, a singer that left us much too soon.

Various artists – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Guillaume Bougard has produced something sounding very tasty – a boogie funk and old school rap album where Sly & Robbie and Robbie Lynn team up with artists from New York and Memphis. Mixed by veteran mixing wizard John Morales and expected in the first half of 2016.

Viceroys – TBA (Iroko)
New album from this legendary Jamaican harmony group. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Volodia – TBA
French hip-hop influenced reggae artist that is expected to drop a set in late 2016.

Ward 21 – TBA (Germaica)
Hardcore dancehall crew follow-up on their solid album Still Disturbed from 2014. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Willie Lindo – Far and Distant (Dub Store Records)
Smooth lovers rock from this seasoned session guitarist. Originally released in 1974 and now up for release in the first quarter of 2016.

Zos – TBA (Irievibrations)
Debut EP from Irievibrations’ songwriter who has until now only recorded two songs. German speaking roots reggae expected in the second quarter of 2016.

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Sly & Robbie and Dartanyan Winston pull the breaks on Free Dub

500x500Legendary riddim duo Sly & Robbie has once again joined forces with up and coming U.S. mixing engineer Dartanyan Winston, who they found via his unauthorized dub mixes on Youtube a few years back. Together they made Dubmaster Voyage and now they have another album out on the streets.

On Free Dub Dartanyan Winston – who is only in is early 20s – takes on a eight riddims laid by Sly & Robbie. And it’s a versatile bunch of backing tracks taken from Serge Gainsbourg’s album Aux Armes Et Caetera, released in 1979 and re-recorded in 2011, Chezidek’s solid I Grade from 2009 and Horace Andy’s Livin’ It Up from 2006 along with Khalifa & Sugar Minott’s single Bandits and an unfinished track by Toots Hibbert.

The original versions are deconstructed and built up again with a ton of energy and studio wizardry added. Highlights include the grim Dracula Cyan Win with Toots Hibbert’s voice echoing back and forth and the aggressive King Kong with its militant snare drums and explosive audio effects.

The young Dartanyan Winston pulls all breaks on this set and goes wholeheartedly in for an experimental journey to help you free your mind.

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Promising debut from Runkus

runkus-moveinRising Jamaican singer and singjay Runkus – son of 90s reggae chanter Determine – was recently named as one of 16 Caribbean artists to watch out for in 2016 by LargeUp. And now his debut EP has hit the streets.

Runkus has been recording for a number of years and last year he recorded a number of big tunes, including the fun and fiercely skanking ska tune Move Yuh Feet and Run, which appeared on the compilation Link Up.

Both cuts, along with their dub version, are featured on the ten track Move In, a set issued via Germany’s Oneness Records. It showcases a versatile talent at ease with singing, singjaying and rapping on top of a variety of riddims and beats.

Runkus is currently working on his debut full-length album and this fun and playful set certainly promises very well for that effort.

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A superb introduction to Luciano

unnamedJamaican singer Luciano has been honoured reggae legend by VP Records and the label has dedicated him a four disc box set collecting three stunning original albums along with a live set.

The box set comprises no less than 58 tracks across the albums One Way Ticket (1995), Sweep Over My Soul (1999), Live (2000) and A New Day (2001) and gives a comprehensive overview of major talent that arrived in the early 90s.

Some of Luciano’s best work was produced by the late Phillip “Fatis” Burrell and he is behind the spectacular One Way Ticket and the atmospheric Sweep Over My Soul. Dean Fraser produced the Grammy-nominated A New Day, which features a remarkable version of Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari’s nyabinghi hymn No Night in Zion, and Live was recorded on stage in London at the peak of his career.

Luciano has always been highly influenced by Frankie Paul and especially Dennis Brown, which is certainly quite clear on One Way Ticket. The resemblance with the late Crown Prince of Reggae is striking. And just like Dennis Brown, Luciano is always soulful and gentle, and often spiritual and reflective.

A sublime introduction to Luciano, and it would actually be rather easy to do this exercise again since Luciano has been one of the most prolific modern Jamaican singers. Another four disc box could collect masterpieces like Where There is Life, Serious Time, United States of Africa and Write My Name.

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Version galore on massive Glen Brown reissue

unnamedReggae powerhouse VP Records’ subsidiary Greensleeves has reissued three superb compilations of cuts produced by Glen Brown, a singer, instrumentalist and producer that made some of the most uncompromising reggae music ever to be put on wax.

Glen Brown started as a harmony vocalist singing with Lloyd Robinson, Hopeton Lewis and Dave Barker, later of Dave and Ansell Collins fame, and recorded with several top producers in the late 60s, including Coxsone Dodd and Harry J.

In the early 70s he tried his hand at producing and he was – just like his peer Keithunnamed (1) Hudson – an innovative and idiosyncratic producer. He was a rebel, not afraid of cutting downright uncommercial music with false starts, vocal interjections and eerie sonic landscapes with earth-shattering bass lines and minor key melodies.

His productions were pressed in tiny quantities on a broad variety of labels and hard to come by back in the days. And these three reissues – originally put out in 1989 – were highly sought after since they collected rare recordings on Glen Brown’s Pantomine label by some of the finest Jamaican singers, deejays and instrumentalists, including performances by U Roy, I Roy, Prince Jazzbo, Big Youth and Tommy McCook. Featured are also Prince Hammer’s Daughter a Whole Lot of Sugar Down Deh, his first recording, and one of Gregory Isaacs’ earliest tracks – One One Coco.

unnamed (2)But Glen Brown wasn’t only a truly original producer, he was also ahead of his time when he recycled his riddims for various performers. These three compilations – Boat to Progress (vocal cuts), Check the Winner (instrumentals) and Dubble Attack (deejay outings) – contain largely interpretations of the same deadly riddims. All in all 46 killer tracks showcasing the essence of dread. For a dubwise shower of Glen Brown’s music seek out Blood & Fire’s Termination Dub.

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Wicked combination of reggae and hip-hop on Randy Valentine’s Radio Music

0a0720b89cUK’s Randy Valentine is one of the best and hottest contemporary singers around and he has recently put out his fourth project – a blazing mixtape where he has voiced hip-hop beats from the 90s, including Dr Dre’s Xxplosive, Dead Prez’ Hip Hop and Puff Daddy’s Missing You.

Radio Music Raptape collects 19 tracks and is produced by Hemp Higher and Tek-9 Movement. It’s a continuous flow – flavoured with sonic effects – mixed by Straight Sound and presented by Walshy Fire, Bobby Konders, Seani B, Jugglerz, Ninja Crown and King Lagaze.

It also contains only exclusive material and features guest performances from Kabaka Pyramid, Gappy Ranks, Cali P and Big Bullz.

I’ve been a huge fan of Randy Valentine ever since he dropped his first mixtape Bring Back the Love, which has since then been followed by two excellent EPs – Still Pushing and Break the Chain.

Randy Valentine has a unique urgency and energy in his delivery and every word and syllable is sung with passion and love.

Check Radio Music Raptape below and download the full set here.

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No signs of madness on new Lee Perry and Mad Professor album

mad-professor-the-robotiks-ft-lee-scratch-perry-black-ark-classics-in-dub-ariwa-lp-32458-p[ekm]300x299[ekm]Legendary production wizard Lee Perry’s vocals is certainly an acquired taste and I have always preferred him as a producer rather than a singer. And on the most recent Lee Perry album his vocals is fortunately only featured on only a handful of the 14 – eleven on the vinyl edition – tracks.

The album in question is Black Ark Classics in Dub, a set where Mad Professor and his band The Robotiks, which features Prince Fatty regular Horseman on drums, take on a number of classics rhythms originally recorded at Lee Perry’s infamous Black Ark studio.

The Robotiks have recorded new versions of a number of stellar riddims, including Party Time, Soul Fire, I’ve Got the Groove and Zion’s Blood. The riddims have been received the Mad Professor treatment and the set offers a cocktail of instrumentals and dubstrumentals sharing heavy and smattering percussion as a key ingredient.

There are no far-out dub excursions to be found here and there are no signs of madness. Mad Professor and Lee Perry have grown up. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing when the riddims are as powerful as these.

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Rare dub album part of crucial Burning Spear reissue

R-1350951-1211931142_jpegIn the 70s Bob Marley & The wailers took the world by storm and he rose to global stardom. Bob Marley became synonymous with reggae and no other reggae singer or reggae band have even come close to what he has achieved.

But back in the days when Bob Marley was on his way to conquering the charts, labels were keen to find other acts to follow in his footsteps. Several tried, but no one managed. One who tried was Burning Spear, who – just like Bob Marley – was signed to Island Records.

Burning Spear started his career in the 60s; just as Bob Marley did. But his music was darker and rootsier from the beginning and Coxsone Dodd – who was the first to record Burning Spear – was at first reluctant to release the recordings due to its controversial messages and dread approach. Somehow, this draw the attention of Island Records who thought his music was for the masses.

Well, Burning Spear has recorded plenty of classics, but I think it’s fair to say that most of his albums and singles are far from commercial. His excellent 70s output for Island is slow, dark and dense and often lack hooks. His messages were regarded as revolutionary and Burning Spear often calls for repatriation and black consciousness set to a backdrop of smattering percussion, devastating bass lines and throbbing drums.

But Island believed in him and obviously still does since they only last year reissued his album Social Living, or Marcus Children as it was titled in Jamaica. This superb album is now expanded with another nine tracks when adding its rare dub counterpart Living Dub. And it’s the original version from 1978 and not the mixes from the early 90s that were put out on Heartbeat.

Social Living was Burning Spear’s second self-produced album and followed two albums each with Coxsone Dodd and Jack Ruby. It’s a coherent and accomplished set – and even more so with the added dubs – and presents Burning Spear at the peak of his career. It’s bold and edgy with plenty of spiritualty and references to the messages proclaimed by Marcus Garvey.

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The roots of roots music on Tales of Mozambique

210395Just as many other music genres reggae has several sides; it can be insanely catchy and commercial on one hand, but also hard to grasp and uncommercial. Nyabinghi is often the latter and UK’s Soul Jazz Records has now reissued a landmark album in that genre.

Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari’s Tales of Mozambique – originally put out in 1975 – is a fascinating and spiritual journey and the follow-up to the outfit’s ground-breaking debut set Grounation.

The group was formed in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970 and was a union of two existing ensembles – Count Ossie’s crew of drummers and horns man Cedric “Im” Brooks’ Mystics band. Both bandleaders are central characters in the development of Rastafarian roots music, especially Count Ossie who has become a mythical and iconic figure since his untimely death in 1976.

Tales of Mozambique is deeply rooted in rituals of traditional African drumming. It’s avant-garde, powerful and continues where Grounation left off. It has the same radical combination of nyabinghi rhythms, free jazz and chanting. It celebrates Afro-centric identity and traditions and tells the history of Mozambique and how it became colonized and its people enslaved.

The arrangements are loose with repetitive drumming and bass lines along with jazzy horns, reasoning and chanted group vocals.

The musicians behind this album had lots of integrity and courage because it’s experimental and revolutionary with a unique sound. Tales of Mozambique is a slice of hypnotic music history.

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Rare Culture album part of massive compilation

51hCDfKh9mL__SY300_Jamaican harmony trio Culture – with their uncompromising and charismatic lead sing Joseph Hill – was the epitome of dread in the mid-70s with Rastafarian themes and apocalyptic warnings of the world’s imminent demise. Their debut album was the acclaimed and prophetic Two Sevens Clash. That set along with its follow-up Baldhead Bridge were recorded with Joe Gibbs and his sidekick Errol T behind the mixing desk.

Culture soon moved on and initiated a successful and fruitful collaboration with Sonia Pottinger, one of Jamaica’s few female producers. Together they provided Richard Branson’s Virgin Front Line imprint with three super-solid roots classics – Harder Than the Rest, Cumbolo and International Herb. A fourth album was also recorded, but never released at the time.

That fourth album – unofficially at the time titled Black Rose – is now part of a massive Culture two disc reissue – Culture on the Front Line, which collects Culture’s complete recordings for Virgin. The marketing of this album is however not entirely true though, since it’s stated that Black Rose is previously unreleased. Thing is that seven of its eight tracks appeared on Heartbeat’s Trod On compilation released in 1993.

Culture on the Front Line collects a whopping 48 tracks and Black Rose is just as great as the other three sets recorded together with Sonia Pottinger. Culture is as revolutionary and radical as always. They warn against Babylonian living and cry for social change.

Culture has always relied quite a lot on the backing vocals courtesy of Albert “Ralph” Walker and Kenneth Dayes. Their chorale singing and striking harmonies are crucial to the songs. But they also add spirituality and a rural flavor and nearly all songs sound like they could have been performed in front of a bonfire late at night.

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