Tag Archives: Anthony B

Time for Anthony B to kill a few darlings

image3I enjoy technology development, like streaming and digital download, but in some cases old school is the way to go. Take for instance the LP with its limited running time. A single album has about 45 minutes. That’s it. You can’t fit any more music. A digital album allows for an unlimited amount of music, which can cause quality issues. No need to kill your darlings.

This is the case with Anthony B’s new album Tears of Luv which collects a hefty 18 tracks. About half of them are massive and the other half is somewhat weak. If Anthony B had decided to focus on his strengths this album could have been a bona-fide killer.

This partly self-produced set opens with There’s A Reward for Me, a heartfelt combination with Richie Spice and a tribute to the late and great Joe Higgs, a Jamaican singer that taught Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer how to sing harmonies.

Other highlights include the murderous Bring Back the Vibes, the uplifting Hold Again, the powerful Mau Mau Warrior and the catchy Vow the Nazarene.

But as the album title suggests this set also collects a number of soft tunes and several of those could have been left out. But unfortunately they were not. Anthony B is on top of the game when he flexes his blazing deejay skills chanting down the walls of Babylon and not when singing love songs.

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Ghanaian styled reggae on Selasee & The Fafa Family’s Time For Peace

selasee-time-for-peace-thumbGhana has a rich musical heritage and the highlife genre originates from there. And Ghana native Selasee – who today resides in the U.S. – has incorporated elements of this often up-tempo and funky genre on his and his band Fafa Family’s third album Time For Peace, a set that follows their African Gate, released in 2009.

Time For Peace is Ghanaian styled roots reggae with elements of soul and gospel. The set is produced by no other than the legendary Aston “Family Man” Barrett, longtime bass man who worked close to Bob Marley for almost a decade. Together, Aston Barrett and Selasee & Fafa Family have created a catchy reggae album connecting the musical dots between the Caribbean, West Africa and the U.S.

This organic set is a conscious one and the songs have a story resonating from Selasee’s own experiences in life. But Selasee also tackles global issues, as on album opener Time For Peace where Jamaican deejay Anthony B joins in chanting about the trials and tribulations going on in the world.

The roots vibe is strong on several tracks, especially on deep and slow cuts like Baby Sister and The Love, whereas highlife influences are a large part of tracks such as Mama Africa and Which One.

Several of the songs have long instrumental parts where the multiple guitars or the breezy horns do most of the talking. And the horns on Time For Peace are, well, marvelous. Listen to Fly Away, especially the smooth saxophone solo, or the funky saxophone on sensual reggae funkster Stop the Rain.

All songs are powered by Selasee’s rich, soulful and slighly raspy voice. Just as several other reggae greats he started singing in church, but he has also been in an afro-pop band, and all these elements blend together nicely on this twelve track set.

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Smiley gets the green light

disc-3114-smiley-traffic-lightThey say never judge a book by its cover or never judge an apple by looking at a tree. I say – don’t judge Smiley’s debut album Traffic Light by its painful and horrible gangsta rap and heavy metal looking cover sleeve. It’s way better than it looks and sounds great if you like contemporary European one drop reggae.

Smiley dropped his heavyweight Junior Kelly combination Dem A Wonder five years ago and it was followed by the bright EP Lively Road in 2010.

Traffic Light is his debut album and collects 16 live played tracks, including a short spoken outro. Production is mostly helmed by his fellow Dutch musician Stiko, but Anthony Senior of Al.Ta.Fa.An Records turns up as producer on the Anthony B combination Keep the Joy.

Smiley singing is vivid and he has great confidence. At times he almost has a kind of authoritative tone in his voice and sometimes he gets into a light singjay mode.

A former boss once told me that good things looks good. Unfortunately that’s not the case with Traffic Light. Don’t let the sleeve fool you.

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Reggae albums to look forward to in 2013

Most of the lists collecting best of 2012 are now published – Reggaemani has one more on the way though – and I guess most of us are looking forward to what to expect of 2013. Only a week of the new year has however passed, but I know I’m already thirsty for new albums. Luckily enough several album releases have been made public. Some confirmed, while some are rumours.

There are a number of big releases ahead and since last year was tasty, expectations are high and to be honest I’m quite excited, particularly about the full-length studio sets from Tarrus Riley, Captain Sinbad, Sizzla, Meta & The Cornerstones and Lutan Fyah.

Check the full list below and you’ll hopefully be as wound up as I am.

The list doesn’t cover reissues or compilations and is no particular order.

Anthony B
The recording of the album has just begun. It’s produced by Austria’s House of Riddim and will hopefully see the light of day in March.

Captain Sinbad
This veteran, old school deejay released his debut album with Henry “Junjo” Lawes back in the early 80’s and since those days he hasn’t recorded much. But last year he put out three must-have singles on Maximum Sound and producer Frenchie has announced that he and the Captain has something very special cooking.

Christopher Ellis
The son of the great Alton Ellis has had his debut album produced by Stephen and Damian Marley and that is certainly promising.

Dubtonic Kru – Evolution
Has been in the making for over a year and the recently released single Jah Love promises well.

Etana – Better Tomorrow
Etana’s much anticipated third album is mostly produced by young mastermind Shane C. Brown, who was responsible for Busy Signal’s highly praised Reggae Music Again released last year.

Iba Mahr
Together with Chronixx Iba Mahr is one of the most promising young talents from Jamaica and hopefully he’ll be able to deliver on a full album set.

Jah9
Hyped Jamaican singer that has been taken under the wings of producer Rory Stonelove and her latest single Jungle showcases an interesting jazz-influenced talent.

Jesse Royal
One of the strongest singjay’s from the XTM. Nation camp, led by the late and great producer Phillip “Fattis” Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell.

Lutan Fyah
The always reliable VI-based producer Tippy I of I Grade Records is putting finishing touches to an album with the prolific Jamaican chanter. Collaborations between Jamaica and the Virgin Islands are usually interesting and this will probably not be an exception.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Ancient Power
After his debut album Forward Music – released in 2008 – he was dubbed the African Bob Marley by the New York Times. This follow-up album was recorded and produced in Jamaica and has lots of great collaborations – Capleton, U Roy and Damian Marley. It was supposed to have hit the streets last year, but was pushed forward to March 2013. I’m confident it was worth the wait.

Morgan Heritage – Here Come the Kings
In August last year the royal reggae family released their first new studio recordings in years and at the same time they announced a new album, a set due in March.

Nazarenes
Early last year Tippy I announced a dub reworking of Nazarenes’ album Meditation released in April, but it was pushed forward due to albums from Ras Batch and Lutan Fyah.

Perfect
Has almost finished his brand new album with House of Riddim and it’s set for release in March.

Protoje – 8 Year Affair
Protoje has once again teamed-up with his producing cousin Don Corleon for the follow-up to his highly regarded debut album 7 Year Itch released two years ago.

Queen Ifrica – Play Day
The fierce queen of contemporary reggae has released two scorching albums and several top notch singles, of which Tiad of da Supm Ya is the latest and certainly proves she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

Sizzla
Every Sizzla album is met with huge anticipation, but when I heard he had recorded an album with Australian producer Mista Savona to be released in 2013 I got a little more excited than usual.

Snoop Lion
I was not the only one that got a big surprise when hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg turned Snoop Lion and dropped three Major Lazer produced singles, of which two were well-above average. Let’s now wait for the album and see if this is a marketing gimmick or not.

Tarrus Riley
His new studio album follows last year’s acclaimed acoustic set and is supposed to hit the streets in May.

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Anthony B rails against injustices on Freedom Fighter

Anthony B was part of the rasta renaissance in the mid 90’s with singers and deejays such as Luciano, Sizzla, Turbulence, Capleton and Buju Banton. His first hit song was the Richard “Bello” Bell produced Fire pon Rome, a tuned banned from the radio waves due to its controversial lyrics. It was also included on his acclaimed debut album Real Revolutionary put out in 1996.

Over these 16 years he has put out some 17 albums and also probably voiced hundreds of cuts for different producers and one riddim compilations. His latest albums have been inconsistent, but single wise he has remained strong, and one of his best releases in recent time is the skanking hip-hop inspired dancehall scorcher Dem Can’t Stop We From Talk.

Freedom Fighter is his latest album. It’s produced by Austria’s Irievibrations, who has previously put out worthwhile albums from Luciano, Sojah and Perfect.

The solid backing on Freedom Fighter is in the same vein as Irievibrations’ previous work – melodic, slick and powerful. Anthony B is a gifted and sharp lyricist. With his authoritative voice and militant chanting style he rails against the injustices in society.

In Born to be Free – one the album’s highlights – he chants “what is the meaning of prison reform, when every criminal turn up in a uniform, man shouldn’t be judged by the place you’re born, but by the work and the duty where you perform” and it sounds like he means it.

Anthony B should however stay away from singing. This style is a taste which I have yet to acquire.

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The third day of Uppsala Reggae Festival – several highs and one all-time low

The second day of Uppsala Reggae Festival offered lots of great roots reggae and it was almost a veteran get together. The third and final day was a more mixed bag of artists and range in quality.

Saturday in Uppsala is grey and drizzling. When I walk into the festival area about 6pm, the area is much muddier than the day before. But it is not raining, not yet anyways.

When teen favourite Jah Cure enters the main stage about half an hour late the rain has both started and increased in strength and many people are soaked. But several defy the weather and attend the concert. In particular girls, who are heard loud when Jah Cure sings some of his languorous ballads, which are gladly enough mixed with heavier songs such as King in This Jungle and Sunny Day, a tune that turns into heavy dub excursion. The shrilling cries increases when he starts to undress – from black jacket and white shirt, to a white tank top, to bare chest.

When Alborosie performed at the festival in 2008 he ran into legal complications that led to the song Operation Uppsala. It’s therefore probably no coincidence that he starts off with two songs about drugs – No Cocaine and Herbalist. He of course also plays Operation Uppsala. To get extra strength behind the message, he sings parts of the verses a cappella to great applause. The audience is caught on during the show and if it wasn’t so muddy because of the rain, I would probably have had knees up to my chin during the entire performance.

Busy Signal at Uppsala Reggae Festival 2010. Photo by Stefan Gunnarsson/Reggaefoto.se

Dancehall superstars Busy Signal and Mavado makes one fifty-minute concert each. Busy Signal is up first. He jumps onto stage backed by a lonely dj and tears of a veritable hit song extravaganza with favourites such as Unknown Number and Wine Pon the Edge. Best is Hustlin’ on the heavy Baddaz rhythm. The crowd sings the entire chorus in Hustlin’ as well as in the Commodores cover Night Shift, a song that Busy Signal does not really do justice. He seems to have throat problems and when he sings it doesn’t nearly sound as good as it should. But it certainly doesn’t seem to bother the crowd when he takes off his sunglasses and wiggle his hips.

One that also has problems with his voice is Mavado. He makes a Busy Signal with throat problems sound like Celine Dion. Many had looked forward to see him live, but he did not do any of his hit songs justice. He moves back and forth across the stage and sings randomly to pre-recorded material. He makes less than a minute of each song, which helps the energy. But it hardly helps when both pre-recorded parts and live singing is so false it’s embarrassing.

When I leave the rainy festival area to the sounds of World A Music by Anthony B the bass echoes over the outskirts of Uppsala. This year was the tenth anniversary and hosted a magnificent line-up. Hopefully the festival will live on at least a decade longer and that this is only the beginning of a proud Swedish tradition.

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“Dudus” Coke arrested

Jamaican druglord Christopher “Dudus” Coke has been captured in Jamaica and is now facing extradition to the United States, according to British Telegraph. Reports from Jamaica say that he was on his way to hand himself in when he was detained. Christopher Coke will now be extradited to the United States, where prosecutions are waiting for drug dealing and arms trafficking.

A long and deadly hunt is finally over. At least 73 people were killed during four days of fighting in May when police and soldiers stormed into the Tivoli Gardens in Kingston.

Christopher Coke is in many parts of Kingston seen as a hero and is, according to the Telegraph, hailed by many residents as a Robin Hood figure who offers security and small-time jobs on some of the world’s toughest streets.

Since the riots began in May some Jamaican artists has released pleas for peace, for example Anthony B with the tune Sweet Jamaica and Busy Signal’s Let Peace Reign.

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Anthony B sjunger om våldet på Jamaica

Singjayn Anthony B blir en av de första artisterna att släppa en låt om det pågående våldet på Jamaica. Färska Sweet Jamaica är vädjan om fred och sammanhållning på ön. Det skriver United Reggae.

Låten är hämtad från hans kommande platta Rasta Ambassador och finns under en begränsad tid tillgänglig som fri nedladdning.

Sweet Jamaica är gungande sommarreggae och Anthony B är i hyfsat fin form.

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