Keith & Tex recreate the sounds of the 60s on new album

unnamedJamaican harmony duo Keith & Tex – probably best known for their smash hit Stop That Train – has just released their new album Same Old Story, an eleven-track set recorded together with ace producer Roberto Sánchez, who is a master in recreating vintage sounds.

Same Old Story is maybe a telling title since the music is classic rocksteady; a genre that made Keith & Tex stars in Jamaica and abroad in the late 60s. The album collects only original material and could very well have been recorded and issued back in the days.

The harmonies are tight and many of the cuts have a melancholic feel to them. And the duo covers themes from broken hearts to the refugee crisis in Syria.

Once again Roberto Sánchez shows that he can create hit sounds for any (veteran) reggae artist. This is music for music lovers.

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Inna de Yard showcases the soul of Jamaica

3596973427496_600After being away for several years Inna de Yard is back with a new album and a new label. This beautiful project was in the beginning more than ten years ago spearheaded by Jamaican guitar ace Earl “Chinna” Smith and rendered many excellent tunes, including the late Matthew McAnuff’s dread Be Careful.

The new album features a crème de la crème of Jamaican veteran vocalists, and a few spirited newer ones also checks in.

The Soul of Jamaica is just like the previous Inna de Yard sets acoustic with nyabinghi drumming and transcendental rhythms. Key cuts include Var’s powerful Crime, Bo-Pee’s beautiful Thanks & Praises and Ken Boothe’s versions of his own Let the Water Run Dry and Artibella. Ken Boothe sounds just as great as he did back in the 60s and 70s. It’s quite remarkable.

Conscious music that encapsulates the soul of Jamaica.

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Essential Augustus Pablo album reissued

unnamedAugustus Pablo’s King David’s Melody is a collection of self-produced singles issued between circa 1975 and 1982 and it was originally released in 1983 and has since been reissued several times, often with bonus material.

The latest reissue comes from Greensleeves – a label that has released it two times before – and it collects the original album along with nine extra dubs sourced from the original singles.

This album showcases Augustus Pablo in all his glory. The original album contains mostly melodica-led instrumentals and the sonic landscape is airy and relaxed with uplifting melodies, while the dubs provides a more militant and trippy side of this musical mastermind.

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Kristine Alicia’s Songs From Zion is a masterpiece

16463263_10154841948010610_438571494219141396_oMy first encounter with Jamaican vocalist Kristine Alicia was two years ago when she was featured on Rorystonelove’s two one riddim compilations Braveheart and Zeen. She was responsible for two of the strongest cuts on those and I was blown away by her strong and confident voice.

Now her new album has been put out and with this set she relaunches her career with a rootsy sound. And the first single off the album is Roll It, a tribute to all reggae DJs who have helped the genre to reach a global audience. Roll It is easy-going with a laid-back atmosphere. The full album shows a different side of Kristine Alice. A more melancholic side.

Songs From Zion is a stunning set. I dare to say that it’s breathtaking from start to finish and I have had it on repeat for several days.

Rorystonelove has created a full-sounding and dub-infused sonic landscape over which Kristine Alicia sings earnest and sincere. It’s intimate and you can feel every syllable on a track like Key Lock, with its call and response chorus and dramatic production.

Other highlights include the pulsating Valley Song, which is a remake of the classic Cuss Cuss riddim, the bombastic Come Home Natty, where she provides a bit of deejaying, the devout My King and the up-tempo and uplifting Follow with its powerful chorus.

Kristine Alicia, who is a trained pianist and has released a gospel- inspired reggae album, is a remarkable singer and together with Rorystonelove she has created a musical masterpiece.

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Superb new album from Meta & The Cornerstones

unnamedSenegal-born – nowadays U.S. resident – Meta Dia and his Cornerstones impressed on their superb second album Ancient Power, released in 2013 and reissued last year with two previously unreleased songs.

Their new album Hira is in the same vein as its predecessor – uplifting, empowering and sweetly skanking roots reggae highly influenced by Bob Marley & The Wailers. Listen to the monumental Addis State of Mind and you’ll get the picture. It has all the right ingredients – a rock-solid bass line, breezy horns and beautiful backing vocals.

Hira is a global effort mixing many genres – including bossa nova, flamenco, jazz and rock – with a backbone of roots reggae. Musicians from all over the world lend their talents to the album, which was recorded, mixed and mastered in the UK, the Netherlands, Jamaica, France and the U.S. Meta Dia produced the album and the great Shane Brown mixed the set together with Bonzai Caruso.

This could have been a non-cohesive effort because of its many influences, but Meta Dia manages to keep the perfect balance between reggae and other influences, just like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh did.

A number of the songs give goosebumps. The Fig And The Olive Tree is one such, Spirit of the Light, Zion Stereo, Bilal and Mind Your Business are four others. The list could actually go on and on.

Essential. And probably even stronger than Ancient Power.

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Spiritual makes traditional and authentic roots reggae

unnamedJamaican singer Spiritual has been in the music business for many years, but has never released more than a handful of singles. But now his debut album has arrived.

Awakening is a slice of traditional and very well-produced roots reggae. And that’s something that could be expected when he has worked with renowned producers like Bobby “Digital” Dixon and Clifton “Specialist” Dillon.

Spiritual’s singing style lies close to reggae greats like Burning Spear and Culture’s Joseph Hill. And musically he treads the same path – conscious and authentic roots reggae with a high dose of integrity.

The two singles off the album – Time Has Come and Stand Up For Rasta – sum up the album very well.

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Solid second album from I-Taweh

unnamedSinger, producer and multi-instrumentalist I-Taweh recently dropped his second album Judgement, a set following his debut set Overload, which was put out in 2011.

Judgement comes with 16 cuts, including three dub versions. Two of the tracks – Never Fade Away and Herb Treez – have previously been released as singles. The rest of the songs are new. And a number of these are infectious and catchy with tight musicianship.

The strongest cuts are the pulsating Make It (Rainy Day) and the melancholic No Night, a song with a powerful brass section courtesy of horn veterans Dean Fraser and the late Nambo Robinson.

With this self-produced set I-Taweh will hopefully attract a number of new followers.

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Monumental Glen Brown productions reissued

unnamedSylford Walker’s dread and eerie debut album Lamb’s Bread was recorded in the late 70s for producer Glen Brown, but never issued until 1990 when Greensleeves picked it up at a time when ragga was started to running to show.

Needless to say it sank into obscurity until Blood & Fire reissued it as Lamb’s Bread International ten years later to wide critical acclaim. That reissue was paired with Welton Irie’s Ghettoman Corner, an album with cuts voiced over the same riddims used for Lamb’s Bread. Lamb’s Bread International was a bomb, but it has been unavailable since its release.

Luckily, Greensleeves has picked up the album once again and once more its paired with Ghettoman Corner. This time both full-lengths are collected in their entirety. Only on the CD version though.

The se glorious sets collects some exceptional, militant and uncommercial roots music with prophetic warnings and apocalyptic messages. The CD version comes with killer cuts like Sylford Walker’s Lamb’d Bread, Chant Down Babylon, Give Thanks and Praise to Jah and Cleanliness is Godliness along with Welton Irie’s own Lamb’s Bread International, Ghettoman Corner, Stone a Throw and Wicked Tumbling.

Sylford Walker can be compared to Burning Spear, but his singing style is even rougher and the soundscape Glen Brown created for these recordings is far more haunting than anything The Spear has recorded.

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Classics and obscurities on Studio One Rocksteady 2

unnamedWith a sturdy 19 tracks there’s not a dull moment on Soul Jazz’ second installment of Studio One Rocksteady, although some of the tracks have previously been featured on countless of other albums. I’m talking about well-known songs like Alton Ellis’ I’m Still In Love With You, Slim Smit’s Born To Love and The Heptones’ I Shall Be Released.

The title is however slightly misleading since the album draws both Studio One’s deep rocksteady and early reggae vaults. And it offers a sweet mix of staples and obscure singles. Best of the bunch is The Termites’ pulsating Rub Up Push Up, Carlton & The Shoes’ melancholic Never Let Go, Cannon & The Soul Vendors’ bouncy instrumental Bad Treatment and The Actions’ up-tempo Giddy Up.

Studio One Rocksteady 2 includes a number of cuts that helped to shape reggae to an international phenomenon.

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Wake up – Max Romeo’s daughter Xana has dropped a solid debut album

xanaromeowakeupRoots reggae veteran Max Romeo’s children have stepped into the spotlight. A few years ago his son dropped the scorching Grow My Dread and about a month ago his daughter Xana Romeo put out her debut album Wake Up.

It has been a busy year for the Romeo’s. First Max Romeo’s own full-length Horror Zone and then Xana Romeo’s debut. Two solid sets, but with disparate sounds.

Horror Zone was a throwback to the 70s and certainly a very vintage sounding effort, whereas Wake Up is contemporary with a more modern soundscape.

Wake Up collects eleven cuts of which five are dub versions. The audio landscape is thick and ethereal with both brass and melodica. Xana Romeo sings with great confidence and heavy patois and her musical journey will be a delight to follow.

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