Tag Archives: Earl Sixteen

Scary good from Horseman

Horseman - Dawn of the Dread - ArtworkThis year has so far been graced by remarkably strong dancehall albums, and Popcaan and Jah Vinci’s debut albums are two prime examples. Horseman’s recently released debut is another. These three albums are something completely different compared to all the generic and poorly mastered dancehall sets that are regularly put out.

Horseman is a veteran on the UK reggae scene and has spent about three decades working largely behind the scenes, often as a very capable and well-respected drummer. He has over the past few years made solid guest appearances on several productions coming from Prince Fatty.

And Prince Fatty is also responsible for production and mixing on Horseman’s debut album Dawn of the Dread. This album sees Prince Fatty taking a new direction. It’s still vintage sounding though, but not vintage as in 60s and 70s. No, Dawn of the Dread is primarily rooted in the mid to late 80s dancehall scene. Bouncing bass lines, playful drums and lively synths make this twelve track set a joyous and fun excursion, an excursion on which Horseman and Prince Fatty have invited Tippa Irie, Winston Reedy and Earl Sixteen.

I’ve actually been longing for a full album from Horseman ever since I heard Prince Fatty’s excellent album Supersize four years ago. And this album was well worth the wait.

1 Comment

Filed under Record reviews

Earl 16 and Manasseh shine on Gold Dust

Gold dust LP coverIn the first months of 2013 Jamaican roots veteran Earl 16 and UK producer and mixing engineer Nick Manasseh dropped the excellent showcase album Walls of the City. And the album came with a promise – more is soon to come from the duo.

That soon is now. Gold Dust is a fresh new album from this singer/producer collaboration that has been on and off for more than 20 years, ever since when Nick Manasseh was part of Riz Records.

Gold Dust takes on where Walls of the City left off. It’s a smooth, warm and organic set far from the hard UK steppers that Nick Manasseh produced in the late 80s. It collects several re-cuts and versions along with new material. All beautifully crafted with Earl 16’s delicate and dreamy vocals floating on top of the sometimes partly acoustic backing.

Gold Dust is the first single artist full-length album on Brighton’s Roots Garden Records, a label known for its quality rather than quality. It’s however Earl 16’s second album this year, and it follows the more vintage-sounding Natty Farming. Two outstanding reggae albums, but with completely different styles. Earl 16 has been in the business for 40 years, but still shines.

1 Comment

Filed under Record reviews

Earl 16 and Manasseh tear down the walls of the city

CS483444-01A-BIGA new release from Nick Manasseh is always exciting and highly welcome. He’s one of the most consistent UK producers and now he has worked with Jamaican veteran roots singer Earl 16 on the showcase album Walls of the City. The first in what seems to be a series.

The set collects eight newly recorded tracks that balance live instrumentation and computer generated sounds. Four cuts are vocals and they’re directly followed by an inspired dub version. It includes a new version of the duos 90s classic Zion City, here titled Zion Holy City. It’s a completely new version, and even better than the original.

Walls of the City is excellent throughout, especially the title track with its deep and growling bass line and the uplifting Ease Up with its bright horns. Two very different tracks, but equally tasty.

Hopefully another set is due soon, but until then this album will be getting a lot of spins. Available now on LP and digital platforms.

1 Comment

Filed under Record reviews

A perfect fit for Earl Sixteen

You can’t go wrong with a showcase album. And certainly not if the production is handled by Not Easy At All and Earl Sixteen is responsible for the vocal duties.

The collaboration between the JahSolidRock label and production crew Not Easy At All has certainlyborn some sweet tasting fruit. First the Chezidek album and then the full length set from Apple Gabriel. Both praised by critics.

Now these Dutch fellows drop another scorcher – The Fittest from foundation artist Earl Sixteen, responsible for the wicked, and recently re-issued, album Reggae Sound and several timeless tunes.

The Fittest does not resemble the hardcore riddims and production style courtesy of the late Mikey Dread. The sound on The Fittest is airy, relaxed and smooth with great live instrumentation.

It contains 10 tunes, each followed by its dub version, or, as in one case, by its U Roy deejay cut.

Hardcore followers of JahSolidRock and Not Easy At All will notice some familiar riddims. Changing Times utilizes the backing from Chezidek’s Live and Learn and Rise Up is based on Gifted Ones by Apple Gabriel.

A bunch of the riddims are new, and I literally get the chills each time I hear Modern Slavery. Clavinet, saxophone and a pulsating riddim similar to early 80’s Sly & Robbie. Earl Sixteen’s pleading voice and the moaning saxophones are intertwined in a perfect combination. An excellent mix of hopelessness and joy.

Modern Slavery is also a good example of Earl Sixteen’s conscious lyrics that concerns issues such as the situation in Africa, slackness, child labor and trafficking. He sings “there are more slaves today, than there were four centuries away…trafficking drugs just to survive” and calls repeatedly for a solution.

This is the third stunning album released by JahSolidRock and Not Easy At All. I have a feeling there is more to come, even though it will be a tough task to outshine any of these three releases.

The Fittest reaches the street on May 26th.

3 Comments

Filed under Record reviews

Great reggae sounds from Earl Sixteen

About a month ago I had the opportunity to interview Earl Sixteen on his upcoming album Fittest of the Fittest. That effort is hopefully just as good as the Mikey Dread-produced album Reggae Sound, an album originally put out in 1981.

This long lost gem has now been reissued. And the label has put eight bonus dub cuts on the CD version, which is a real delight since the mixing – courtesy of Mervyn Williams, Mikey Dread and Scientist – is wicked and wild.

Earl Sixteen has recorded since the mid 70’s and he has worked with some of the greatest Jamaican producers, ranging from Joe Gibbs and Lee Perry to Coxsone Dodd and Augustus Pablo.

But this album showcases Earl Sixteen and Mikey Dread in their prime. The riddims are rougher than rough and the sound quality is excellent, most likely because the repress is made from the original master tapes.

The original ten tracks made this a great record and with the additional eight tracks it should belong in every record collection. Early dancehall doesn’t get any better than this original reggae sounds.

2 Comments

Filed under Record reviews