Tag Archives: Bitty McLean

Sophistication galore on Bitty McLean’s Heart, Mind & Soul

R-7081757-1433611061-1166.jpegUK’s number one crooner Bitty McLean is back with yet another solid collaboration with Sly & Robbie. Heart, Mind & Soul EP follows the beautiful The Taxi Sessions released two years ago.

This fresh new EP is presently only available on vinyl, which also comes with a CD, and collects six tracks of which four are previously unreleased. Anything and Everything is available on Sly & Robbie & Spicy Chocolate’s The Reggae Power and In and Out of Love was also featured on The Taxi Sessions.

Heart, Mind & Soul continues where The Taxi Sessions left off. Bitty McLean sings his heart out over vintage Sly & Robbie riddims, originally laid at Channel One by the Hookim brothers. His voice is as elegant as ever and the bass and drums are rock solid and completed by smooth horns.

Bitty McLean has a great presence in his performance and it’s easy to imagine him singing in a small club, walking effortlessly around the floor singing genuine love songs for all the lovers and couples out there.

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Easy to fall in love with Bitty McLean

bittymclean-taxisessions-coverUK singer Bitty McLean has been around for some time now. He dropped his debut album in 1994, but was then away from the limelight for about seven years.

In 2006 a career-changer came about. That’s when he met veteran riddim section and production duo Sly and Robbie. Three years later they put out the excellent Movin’ On set and now it’s time for yet another first-rate effort.

The Taxi Sessions isn’t however a new Movin’ On. This ten track album – eight on the LP – is built on loops from familiar Sly and Robbie riddims from the early to mid 80s complete with freshly recorded horn overdubs.

It’s a mix of cultural and lovers themes and Bitty McLean’s honey-drenched voice suits the easy-going and bouncy riddims perfectly. This is harmonious and beautifully arranged reggae with lots of soul and charm.

The initial run of the LP and CD is already sold out. It will be available on high resolution audiophile online stores like Qobuz and HDTracks before it hits the regular digital platforms. So go and grab a copy while you can.

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Old meets new in fine style

In the early 60’s George “Peckings” Price relocated from Jamaica to the UK. He is said to have been a close friend of producer and label owner Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, a very valuable connection when George Price set up his own record shop in London in 1974.

George Price passed away 20 years later and his sons Chris, Duke and Trevor took over the operations, and also started to make their own productions built on riddims from mainly Clement Dodd and the late Duke Reid.

Their debut album was Bitty McLean’s On Bond Street, which was released in 2005. It was followed by the compilations Old Skool Young Blood in 2006 and 2009 as well as Gappy Ranks’ debut album Put the Stereo On in 2010.

Now another slice of old meets new has arrived, and Old Skool Young Blood vol. 3 picks up where its predecessors left off. The 14 tunes include a number of Duke Reid’s finest cuts of rocksteady riddims. The vocals are provided by singers such as Gappy Ranks and Courtney John as well as lovers rock crooners Peter Hunnigale, Peter Spence, Sadiki and Bitty McLean.

The riddims are played by The Supersonics – an outfit led by master saxophonist Tommy McCook – and are beautifully crafted. You simply can’t go wrong with music like this. It’s smooth, melodic and infectious. Just like Gappy Ranks’ “ah ah ah ah aaaah” chorus in his Kooyah Kooyah.

George Price should be proud. His sons are doing a great job in keeping the reggae legacy alive.

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Sweet voiced Bitty McLean performs in Stockholm

Bitty McLean, one of UK’s finest reggae artists, will perform at Sthlm Reggae Klubb on Saturday September 25th.

Bitty McLean has recorded since the 90’s, mostly lovers oriented material. Last year he released his latest effort Movin’ On backed by veteran musicians such as Sly & Robbie and Dean Fraser.

But his best work is from 2004, when he dropped Peckings Presents…On Bond Street With The Supersonics. This album was produced by brothers Chris and Duke Peckings, who is behind Gappy Ranks acclaimed debut set Put The Stereo On, released last month.

A Peckings production essentially means vintage ska, rocksteady and reggae rhythms. And the Bitty McLean album is no exception. It’s a masterful combination of his soulful voice and some of the finest rocksteady ever recorded by Duke Reid and Tommy McCook in the 60’s.

Accompanying Bitty McLean is Swedish singjay talent Joey Fever, probably best know for Young Gunz, a massive combination tune with Million Stylez produced by Curtis Lynch.

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Gappy Ranks makes music for the world

Britain has an almost equally long reggae history as Jamaica. In the 60’s the artists had names such as Dandy and Laurel Aitken. Since then, the scene has changed and given way to new genres dubstep and grime. But one that keeps the reggae Union Jack high is upcoming star Gappy Ranks, from Harlesden in London.

When I get hold of Gappy Ranks on the telephone he has just finished an interview on national radio. He’s happy and excited. Probably no surprise. His debut album Put the Stereo On hits the streets soon on legendary label Greensleeves and there is much to do, concerts and interviews on each other. Soon he will perform at festivals such as Glastonbury and Rototom Sunsplash.

Gappy Ranks was raised in London by a Jamaican father and a Dominican mother. He says that it was tough growing up, but that he has learned about several different cultures. The debut album is in part about his childhood. More precisely it’s about the togetherness created in front of the turntable at home.

The cover of Put the Stereo On is designed by legendary Greensleeves designer Tony McDermott

− When I was a child and my parents put a record on it was always about togetherness and that is what I want to say with the album and its title, says Gappy Ranks in a blend of patois and British English.

Homage to the past
Put the Stereo On is mainly produced by Peckings, whose trademark is the use of old rock steady and reggae rhythms. The album echoes of the 60’s and early 70’s, without sounding outdated. Bitty McLean’s classic album On Bond Street, also produced by Peckings, showed that it’s an excellent recipe.

− The record shows where I’m from. I want to pay homage to Studio One and the past. It’s easier to understand music if you know the past, he says, and adds:

− I love all type of music and embrace every genre. Music is about creating, learning and trying new stuff.

Favourite rhythms
Choosing favourite rhythms on the album is hard for him. But if he has to choose it’d be one originally recorded by Bob Marley and one which makes him enjoy himself.

− I really like Heaven in Her Eyes on Peckings Rebel riddim and Put the Stereo On, which is on the Hot Milk riddim. Every time I hear those trumpets I enjoy myself.

Put the Stereo On is significantly different from his mainly dancehall sounding EP Rising Out of the Ghetto, released this spring. When I ask him why he returns to the love of music.

− I’m just a music lover and hard to categorize. My singing is inspired by Sanchez and Wayne Wonder, but also Beenie Man. I’m a global person and I’m making music for the world.

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