Recently got home from three days in the mighty city of Berlin. Did the usual sightseeing – the Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, KaDeWe, a ride on the river Spree and lots of other tourist things.
But more importantly I managed to convince my wife that we should visit a few record stores. In the end we went to about 15. And the search for records took us all over town – Schöneberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Mitte and Friedrichshain were the areas where we went up and down the crowded streets looking for a hole in the wall.
Prior to this trip I had read that Berlin was a great city for record collectors. And it was. If you’re into electronica. There are several record stores in Berlin almost dedicated to house and techno and Hard Wax, Oye, Rotation and Space Hall were filled with people digging out their favorite tunes heard at Berghain or Weekend the night before or the same morning.
I only found two albums – the various artists compilation Hits From the House of Jah Shaka and Born Jamericans Yardcore. The first one was bought at Hard Wax in Kreuzberg and the second at Da Capo in Prenzlauer Berg. Hardwax has lots of newly issued reggae in different formats, but I’m more interested in vintage records from the 60’s and onwards.
If you aim to find second hand vinyl reggae, Berlin doesn’t have much to offer unfortunately. Da Capo had a bunch of used vinyl albums, but nothing special really.
Check Reggaemani on Instagram for a complete list of the record stores visited. A big shout-out to Nils Kersten from German reggae blog House of Reggae for his help finding some of the stores.
Guinean singjay sensation Takana Zion’s latest album Kakilambe is a huge departure from his previous sets, particularly last year’s monster release Rasta Government, an album recorded in Jamaica and dedicated 70’s roots reggae.
Kakilambe’s 16 tunes strays in several different directions and it’s a fascinating journey starting with the partly acoustic dancehall flavored Abada, followed by the rootsy Assali with its pulsating organ and bluesy guitar, then turning to the Ibiza club banger Wali, after which Takana Zion turns to rock with the Pearl Jam styled Aminata.
This album is anywhere and everywhere. It’s boisterous, playful, rhythmically innovative and filled with traditional Guinean folk music and pop hooks, which certainly makes it stand out.
Takana Zion’s play with different languages – English, French and his native susu – also contributes to the somewhat schizophrenic feel of the album, but at the same time it offers plenty of sunshine, hypnotic beats and enthusiastic attempts to do house music.
I’ve been impressed by Takana Zion since I heard his debut album Zion Prophet five years ago. I still hold his talent and vocal skills high, even though parts of this album have him going in the wrong direction.
UK dub pioneers Zion Train has been active on the reggae scene for more than 20 years. The outfit – with front man Neil Perch – begun as a sound system and has since then fused reggae and dub with a variety of different genres, including electronica and world music. They have of course also released straight reggae and dub tunes.
The recently released Zion Train two CD retrospective Dub Revolutionaries collects 24 tunes, and includes vinyl-only rarities and a previously unreleased radio session for John Peel.
The compilation starts off with their first single Dub Power released in 1991 and ends with a Professor Skank remix put out in 2009.
The majority of the tracks is in the reggae and dub vein. And these tunes are also the ones that suit my taste best. The ones influenced by electronica haven’t aged as well and might have sounded better when they were released.
I’m not sure that this is a best of album. Dub Revolutionaries is for me a varied introduction to Zion Train and their music.
However, whether it’s a best of album or not is the listener’s decision to make. These 24 tunes might not be my favorites, but the material certainly shows what a great genre reggae is for blending with other styles and influences.