Just when legendary producer, innovator and mixing engineer Lee Perry turned 80 he dropped a new album titled Black Ark Classic Songs. This twelve track set is the vocal version to the excellent, and also recently released, Black Ark Classics in Dub.
Both sets are produced by Mad Professor – who has worked with Lee Perry since the early 80s – and backed by The Robotiks.
Together with Lee Perry they have re-recorded and re-shaped a number of classic cuts, most of them originally recorded at Lee Perry’s (in)famous Black Ark studio in the 70s. As expected the riddims are insanely strong and dynamic with an ethereal and swirling audio landscape, but Lee Perry’s mumbling vocal style is as usual an acquired taste. It’s mystical and spiritual rather than graceful and melodious.
Lee Perry’s music career spans almost 60 years and he still manages to stay relevant. Impressive.
Dub phantom Mad Professor has recently released a new album titled Dubbing with Anansi. The album celebrates African/Caribbean folk hero Anansi, a half man, half spider, fictional character that survived the Atlantic crossing during the slave trade, and the transition made from free, African citizens to exiles in the western world. It was a time when speaking in one’s native tongue was forbidden, but the tale of Anansi lived on, and so did the percussive-driven African music and its melodies.
On Dubbing with Anansi, which is one part dub and one part instrumental, Mad Professor shows his excellent mixing skills utilizing new and experimental sonic wizardry to create an audio explosion with a brilliant us of horns and odd sound effects, including barking dogs and crashing porcelain.
Standout tracks include album opener Atlantic Crossing, Culture Vulture with its haunting melodica, Anansi Spell with its relentless percussion and Tribal Dance with its laid-back horns and a swinging Brother Culture on the microphone.
Mad Professor has over for more than three decades worked with a broad range of artists from several different genres and he earned his stripes years ago. He has been rather prolific releasing albums under his own name as well as producing and mixing other artists, including a strong set from Luciano put out earlier this year.
Dubbing with Anansi is a dazzling an at times hypnotic album on which Mad Professor shows why he is a reggae legend and a force to be reckoned with.
It’s no secret that Jamaican vocalist Luciano is heavily inspired by the late and great Dennis Brown. And on Luciano’s new album Deliverance he sounds almost like a reincarnation of the Crown Prince of Reggae. The similarities are especially clear on the two Dennis Brown covers – Deliverance aka Deliverance Will Come and Three Meals a Day. Both excellent, just as the remaining 13 tracks on this Mad Professor produced album.
Deliverance is a showcase set where Luciano mixes lovers and culture material, just as Dennis Brown did with great success. The vocal cuts are followed by its dub counterpart, and the mixing is sublime. Not much effects or sonic wizardry. Just the bare riddims with vocal snippets and instrumental parts dropping in and out.
This is a highly consistent album with way more than two handfuls of highlights, but standout tracks include a stellar and clever nyabinghi-driven version of the mighty Stalag riddim and the roaring Show a Sign with its driving percussion.
Luciano has over the past 20 years or so been one of the most prolific Jamaican artists. He usually drops at least one album a year, and he has now been on something of a creative high for four consecutive years and he shows no sign of slowing down.