During the late 80s and throughout the 90s Bobby “Digital” Dixon produced a truckload of superb singles and albums, of which several are today hailed as some of the greatest reggae and dancehall ever released.
Bobby Digital grew up in the 70s listening to roots acts such as Black Uhuru and Wailing Souls and his journey in the music industry began when he from an early age attended sound system dances. He was an apprentice of King Jammy and he later branched out on his own creating a musical revolution that took Jamaica by storm.
He started out producing lethal dancehall and later helped the roots reggae resurgence in Jamaica with artists such as Garnett Silk, Jahmali, Sizzla, Capleton and Buju Banton.
And VP Records has through its subsidiary 17 North Parade now released two compilations dedicated to Bobby Digital’s productions. The first anthology X-tra Wicked covers his dancehall catalog, while the second anthology, Serious Times, showcases his rootsy side. These two albums cover a neat 80 tracks, including many classics, for example Shabba Ranks’ Peenie Peenie, Mad Cobra’s Tek Him, Morgan Heritage’s Don’t Haffi Dread and Buju Banton’s Til I’m Laid To Rest.
This double anthology showcases a musical genius and a game-changing producer. Now I’m waiting for an anthology dedicated to the works of Richard “Bello” Bell, another producer responsible for some of the greatest reggae released in the 90s.
Bobby ”Digital” Dixon became a name in the reggae industry in the 90s when recording a number of massive tunes for some of the greatest artists of the time, including Garnett Silk, Sizzla and Shabba Ranks.
His label Digital-B Records has been alive and kicking for close to three decades, and one of the label’s most recent releases is the Islababad riddim, set to be released in two parts.
Side A introduces a raw and powerful sound that fuses a catchy guitar riff with the current roots reggae revival. Featured on the compilation are such versatile talents as Chronixx, Raging Fyah, Vysionaer and dub poet Thunder, along with a few more.
Stay tuned for side B.
Late last year the talented and dynamic Jamaican reggae band Raging Fyah announced the follow-up to their successful debut album Judgment Day, released in 2011. Destiny is the title and it will drop this year.
But fans of Raging Fyah are now treated to four brand new tracks – one single and one EP. The uplifting and spiritual Jah Glory is taken from the album and Boarding Pass EP is produced by the legendary Bobby “Digital” Dixon and released via his Digital-B Records. All four tracks are excellent rootsy reggae and reminiscent of early Third World and Zap Pow.
This young group of Edna Manley College students have come a long way and over the course of only three years they have dropped a number of very potent tracks, including the brilliant Nah Look Back, a track included on David Rodigan’s Masterpiece compilation.
I get the feeling that every new album from Sizzla in recent years has been labeled as a return to his sound from the mid and late 90’s. But everytime I’m disappointed. Because none of his more recent albums is nearly as great as the fierce and spiritual music he did for, say, Phillip “Fattis” Burrell or Bobby “Digital” Dixon.
The Messiah – Sizzla’s 70th and latest album – has also been described as something of an album where Sizzla goes back to the roots. Well, lyrically it may be true, but then again his three latest albums have all been jammed with spiritual and righteous ravings and chants.
Musically The Messiah is better than both his albums released in 2011, but not as good as The Scriptures released in 2011 and produced by King Jammy’s son John John, even though they are similar.
On The Messiah Sizzla sings – as usually an acquired taste – and spits his social commentaries over mostly relicked popular reggae and dancehall riddims, including the mighty Tempo riddim and Harry J’s buoyant skinhead rocker The Liquidator, a rather odd choice, but one that actually works really well. The festive sound clashes nicely with Sizzla’s falsetto singing about politicians killing and stealing from the poor.
No Wicked Man, voiced over Barrington Levy’s Tell Them Already, is one of Sizzla’s finest album tracks in a long while, and the high-powered Suffer So Much, on the aforementioned Tempo riddim, will definitely set any dancehall or living room ablaze.
Sizzla is one the greatest and most prolific reggae artists, but his intricate vocal style is hard to cope with on a full album. He has clear pitch problems and it can be charming and add character, but only to a certain point. Sizzla’s musical mission and struggle to make a positive change in the world is overshadowed by his eagerness to extend over his vocal limitations.
Available now on CD and digital platforms.