Brinsley Forde has been at the heart of UK reggae for more than 40 years, even though he has kept a low profile on the Canary Islands since he left Aswad in 1996. He has made occasional recordings and concerts, and rumors about a full-length album from him have circulated for many years. And together with the PlatinumRoots label Dutch JahSolidRock Records finally made the project materialize.
Urban Jungle is Brinsley Forde’s excellent debut solo album produced by Marc Baronner and Manu Genius from Dutch Not Easy at All Productions. These two musicians are known for their work with artists such as Earl Sixteen, Chezidek and Apple Gabriel as well as their higher than high quality.
Their standard is always way above par, and Urban Jungle is no exception with its live instrumentation and full horn arrangements. Far from it. It may be their finest work yet and they’ve managed to capture Brinsley Forde at his very best.
He sings with leisure and passion about personal experiences of hardship, violence, love and relationships. In album opener Sodom & Gomorrah he describes a London in decline and in Blaze it Up he reminisces about smoking ganja back in the day.
David Hinds from Steel Pulse lends his voice to several tracks and Brinsley Forde also uses no less than seven backing singers, eight including himself. The result is stunning with grand and beautiful choruses as well as catchy ooo’s and aaahhh’s.
Aswad has made a number of immortal albums essential in any record collection and with Urban Jungle Brinsley Forde has shown that he’s capable of making a rock solid album on his own. File next to Hulet, New Chapter and Showcase.
Last week Reggaemani wrote about French label Special Delivery’s tenth anniversary compilation, and now it’s time for another brilliant various artists album from the land of berets and baguettes.
Heartical Story – Vol. 2 is the follow-up to last year’s first edition and is based on material from French sound system and label Heartical, an operation established in 1999.
This second version collects 20 tracks recorded and released over the years 2003 to 2012. It’s a musical journey via eight riddims played by Basque Dub Foundation (BDF), with 18 high profile vocalists hailing from Jamaica and England.
The set opens with Steel Pulse’s Grammy Award-winning lead vocalist David Hinds over the Ministerio del Dub riddim followed by a conscious anthem by veteran Little Roy.
Other highlights include cuts on the haunting Slaving, Promised Land and Fade Away riddims respectively. All three are relicks of classic Jamaican riddims originally recorded in the 70’s.
Four bonus cuts are also thrown in – two heavyweight instrumentals, of which one is lead by a grim organ and the other lead by a sorrowful melodica, as well as a dub of I Know Myself riddim and an authentic special dubplate version by U Brown.
Heartical Story – Vol. 2 is now available on CD and digital download and it’s in the same vein as its predecessor – fine slices of roots reggae from the thriving and prosperous French reggae scene.
UK veteran artist Macka B is back with his first album in four years. His brand new set Change the World is released via his own imprint Chileno Records and produced in tandem with reggae revivalist Chris Peckings and the more contemporary flavored Iron Fist Productions. Invited are also notable guest artists Luciano, Earl 16, David Hinds from Steel Pulse and Lloyd Brown.
Macka B has as usual put together accessible, thoughtful and meaningful lyrics to the 16 cuts. He deals with equality in the acoustic punk-influenced Postcode War, sustainability in No Nuclear Energy “we don’t want no nuclear energy, nuclear power is the enemy”, medical marijuana in the clearly titled Medical Marijuana and Make a Claim, a clever take on slavery.
But Macka B also takes on lighter subjects. Never Played a 45 is an acclaimed vinyl love story on the 54-46 aka Boops riddim and in Reggae Daddy Macka B makes it perfectly clear that reggae is the cornerstone in several music genres developed in the UK – jungle, funky house, grime, dubstep and garage.
Even though Macka B usually described as an MC or singjay, on this set his delivery often leans more toward straight singing. And on contrary to many other singjays he sings with a nice pitch control.
Change the World may affect politicians, CEO’s and powerful decisions makers around the world, but it will most definitely change your record collection to the better.