Tag Archives: Alton Ellis

Showstopping showcase from Noel Ellis

ladda nedNoel Ellis, son of the late and great Jamaican singer Alton Ellis, dropped his self-titled debut album in 1983. It was recorded in Canada and overlooked at the time of release. Fortunately it was picked up Light in the Attic Records and reissued almost ten years ago. Now – more than 30 years after the release of his debut – Noel Ellis has finally put out his second album Zion.

It’s a twelve track showcase set – six vocal cuts and six dub versions – released by French label Iroko. It’s facilitated by acclaimed producers Hervé Brizec and Roberto Sánchez and has a distinct vintage feel to it.

Zion is a coherent and classic set with pleasant and heavy dub versions where Roberto Sánchez has put the smattering percussion in front of the mix, as shown on the deep Jah Dub, the version to the excellent and devout Jah Love.

Noel Ellis has a versatile voice with a melancholic tone and album opener Zion presents a mode where his graceful singing sounds a bit nervous, while he on the cavernous and slow Reggae Music shows a more powerful style. On I Know he actually sounds a little like the great Ken Boothe, grittiness excluded.

Roberto Sánchez has previously recorded a number of vintage reggae singers to wide critical acclaim. And Noel Ellis’ second album can definitely be filed next to soon-to-be-classics like Milton Henry’s Branches and Leaves and Earl Sixteen’s Natty Farming.

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Christopher Ellis carries his father’s legacy

christopher_ellisEPChristopher Ellis, the youngest son of the late legendary Jamaican vocalist and rocksteady pioneer Alton Ellis, teamed up with Damian and Stephen Marley of Ghetto Youths International a few years ago. Over the years his involvement with the label has not been particularly fruitful. Until now.

Damian Marley has produced Christopher Ellis debut EP Better Than Love, a set collecting five original tracks with mood and melodies taken from late the 60s soulful Jamaican rocksteady and reggae scene.

It’s reminiscent of Jimmy Cliff’s comeback album Rebirth with influences from the often overlooked producer Leslie Kong as well as the early works from masterminds such as Clive Chin and Joe Gibbs.

Christopher Ellis’ versions of his father’s material has been average and I haven’t been convinced by the man’s talent until now. He definitely carries his father’s legacy and I’m sure this EP would have made his father very proud.


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Studio One Ironsides has breadth and depth

studio-one-ironsidesWhen browsing the track list of the new Studio One compilation Studio One Ironsides on SoulJazz Records the title might be confusing for serious collectors, since it’s not entirely based on the output from legendary producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s imprint Ironside. A number of the cuts are taken from that particular label, but the bulk of the songs come from other imprints, such as Bongo Man, Money Disc, London and Coxsone.

Clement Dodd had a big number of labels and according to the excellent liner notes written by reggae historian Noel Hawks this might have been a way to trick radio DJ’s into playing his records, since radio DJ’s usually aren’t keen on playing too much music from the same source.

As with the previous Studio One compilation – the excellent Studio One Sound – SoulJazz have dug deep into the mighty archives of Studio One and the Ironsides album collects an incredible line-up of performers ranging from well-known singers and deejays such as Freddie McGregor, Alton Ellis and Lone Ranger to the obscure vocal groups The Stingers and The Soul Sisters.

The 18 tracks on this eclectic compilation are sheer and warm brilliance and, as the liner notes states, shows the breadth and depth of one of the most important labels in the history of reggae.

Studio One Ironsides hits the streets on January 21 in CD- jewel case with 24-page booklet with card slipcase as well as a heavyweight double-vinyl edition in deluxe strong gatefold sleeve (with full sleeve notes) and also as a digital download.

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Winston Jarrett tillbaka till rötterna

Winston Jarrett har en karriär längre än många andra artister. Även om han varit med sedan 60-talet har han dock inte släppt särskilt många plattor.

Hans storhetstid kan delas in i två faser. Under ett par år på 60-talet var han med i The Flames som spelade tillsammans med Alton Ellis på hitlåtar som Rocksteady, Dance Crasher och Cry Tough.

Nästa fas var på 70-talet som solosångare. Det var då han var som bäst och hördes mest. Plattor som Man of the Ghetto, Wise Man och Ranking Ghetto Style bör finnas i varje roots-konnässörs skivsamling. Lyckas man inte lägga vantarna på de guldklimparna funkar samlingarna Rise Up och Survival is the Game som hedervärda substitut.

Winston Jarretts senaste platta bär den märkliga titeln Bushwackers Gangbangers och är den första sedan den Jah Shaka-producerade Children of the Ghetto från 2006. Det var en hyfsad platta av klassiskt Jah Shaka-snitt.

Bushwackers Gangbangers har ett helt annat sound. Till skillnad från Children of the Ghetto är nya plattan huvudsakligen inspelad med live-instrument, bland annat tillsammans med Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespear och Earl ”Chinna” Smith.

Winston Jarretts röst låter fortfarande som på glansdagarna och lirar bra med den varma ljudbilden med tydliga influenser från 70-talsroots. Lyssna exempelvis på titelspåret eller Lucy Underwood. Båda följs av dubversioner som hade tjänat på mer kreativitet. Nu blir det nästan som instrumentalversioner.

Plattan har hela 19 låtar, varav tre är bonusspår inspelade på 70-talet och lider av kraftigt dåligt ljud, vilket också är ett problem på några andra låtar, exempelvis Montpellier Collie och Work for Your Money. Hade man sorterat bort de fem låtarna hade plattan varit en bättre helhetsupplevelse.

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