Following two excellent albums in 2011 and 2014 – Judgement Day and Destiny – Jamaican roots rockers Raging Fyah signed to reggae powerhouse VP’s subsidiary Dub Rockers and recently put out their third album Everlasting, a bombastic set with infectious melodies, lush harmonies and sing-a-long choruses.
Raging Fyah formed about ten years ago after several of the five members had met at Edna Manley College of Visual & Performing Arts in Kingston. Their elegant sound is inspired by reggae bands such as Third World, Steel Pulse and Aswad and they often tackle topics of socio-economics and politics together with uplifting messages about hope and inspiration.
Everlasting – produced by Llamar “Riff Raff” brown, whose credits include work for Stephen Marley, Damian Marley and Morgan Heritage – features J Boog, Busy Signal and the stylistically superior Jesse Royal on guest vocals. The latter kills it as usual on Humble and Busy Signal offers some well-needed edge to the pop-flavoured Would You Love Me.
Raging Fyah is at their best when staying on the grittier side of the reggae spectrum. The sparse and dark Raggamuffin is one such highlight, the roaring title track is another.
Everlasting has several irresistible moments – even though a few might be slightly too slick and polished – and passionate and expressive vocalist Kumar shines throughout this sonically sophisticated collection.
Birmingham-based singer Jean McLean was in the 80s part of Sceptre, an overlooked reggae act that dropped their poorly distributed debut album Essence of Redemption Ina A Dif’rent Styley in 1984.
She dropped her debut album Everlasting two years ago, but apparently it didn’t sell too well and it’s now reissued by Sugar Shack Records. It’s more or less the same album, but with one huge difference – the track Ancestors, a cut originally recorded by Sceptre and included on the rare compilation Handsworth Revolution Vol. 1. The original is a strong roots piece and this new version is even better and a standout track on Everlasting. The deejay parts are espacially tasty and I hope she explores that talent on future releases.
Everlasting is produced and engineered by Paul Horton, who has been Grammy nominated for his work with Steel Pulse and Pato Banton. One of his most recent reggae efforts is however Black Symbol’s excellent Journey, released earlier this year.
This catchy set collects nine vocals, of which seven are originals and two are covers – Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain and Dennis Brown’s Things in Life. It also collects seven dubby instrumentals mixed by Paul Horton.
It’s an album leaning much towards romance and classic love songs, for example album opener Meant 4 U and swinging, yet a bit too synthetic, Love Me Baby.
Another highlight is the anthemic Reggaebaby, an infectious tune reminiscent of Brina’s recent Real Reggae Music or John Holt’s Reggae From the Ghetto.
A set well-worth seeking out for fans of mature and timeless reggae music.