Dub Inc – one of Europe’s most successful reggae bands – is back with their long-awaited fifth album Paradise, following Hors Contrôle put out in 2010. Over these three years this seven piece band from Saint Etienne, France, has toured the world – from Portugal to the U.S., from Colombia to India and from Germany to Senegal. They have also been subject for the documentary Rude Boy Story.
Paradise collects 13 tracks, of which one is a dubstrumental. It’s a global album with influences from Jamaica and the Caribbean as well as from the Middle East and Balkan. Dub Inc also continues their journey to reach a broader fan base with several songs sung mostly in English rather than French, a pity since the two vocalists sound much better in their native language.
Album opener Revolution is a thunderous and infectious reggae scorcher with its catchy ski-bi-di-bap’s and politically engaged lyrics in both English and French. So is They Want with guest deejay Skarra Mucci, one of Europe’s hottest artists. He certainly outshines Dub Inc’s two vocalists Komlan and Bouchkour with his tongue twisting delivery.
Two of the more odd moments are Hurricane and Il faut qu’on ose. The latter sounds like Dub Inc has teamed up with Korn or another U.S. nu metal band and the former is frenzy accordion-driven dancehall.
This is a diverse and non-cohesive reggae album that will probably appeal to Dub Inc’s many fans across the globe.
The Mighty Lions is a French outfit, sometimes known as the Soul Agitators. In 2011 they dropped their debut set In This Time. Now its follow-up has been put out. In fine reggae tradition it collects both vocal cuts and their dub versions. All in all ten tracks – five dubs and five vocals.
Raw Reggae Tape is a laid back cocktail of 70s and early 80s Jamaican and UK reggae. Bands such as Matumbi, In Crowd and Steel Pulse spring to mind. Soulful with breezy horns. Never extravagant or fancy, rather straight forward and unpretentious.
The dubs are in the same vein, no flashy effects, just a no-nonsense focus on the drums and the bass. And you have to give props to the vocalist for showcasing his vintage toasting skills on Honda 125 Dub.
Raw Reggae Tape is yet another fine slice of reggae from France that is now available on LP and digital platforms.
Don’t you just love the moments when you listen to a new artist or an album and don’t know what to expect and the sound is so powerful you just say “get out of here!”?
Well, I do and I had one of those moments a while ago when I put French youthful deejay Naâman’s debut album Deep Rockers – Back A Yard in the CD player. I had received a promo copy and hadn’t heard about him before and actually thought about shelving it without giving it a listen, but for some reason I changed my mind, and I’m glad I did. Because this album is hip-hop-fueled reggae at its best.
Naâman evolved on the French reggae scene three years ago and was this year voted as Revelation of the Year by French website Reggae Victories. He has previously only released a mixtape and a successful single on Youtube.
Deep Rockers – Back A Yard was mainly produced and recorded in Jamaica by Fatbabs at the legendary Harry J studio together with musicians such as Sam Clayton, Stephen Stewart, Dalton Browne and Sly Dunbar.
The sound is a bit reminiscent of mid 80’s Sly & Robbie or George Phang, especially the severely hard skanking Cutty Ranks combination Rebel For Life.
Naâman has a great sense for strong melodies and he also has a natural, rhythmic and vigorous flow when he rides the pulsating and thumping riddims effortlessly. He should however focus on his deejay skills, since his singing is not as strong.
This potent and explosive album offers a fresh take on hip-hop-influenced reggae delivered with a high dose of passion and youthful playfulness.
Deep Rockers – Back A Yard is now available on CD and digital platforms.
French nine piece band Jim Murple Memorial has been together in various constellations for 17 years and has recently released their ninth official studio album Take Your Flight, Jim!, collecting 16 tracks aimed a starting any party around the globe.
Their sound is a melting pot of ska, rocksteady, calypso, boogaloo and Jamaican and American R&B. They’ve might have listened to an equal amount of Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Willie Colón, The Skatalites, Slim Smith and Laurel Aitken.
It’s fun, passionate and soulful and unless Tony Soprano has put your feet in wet concrete, you’re guaranteed to at least tap your toes to this full and swinging sound with upright bass, shuffling piano, funky organ, rampant horns and cheerful, but also mild at times, vocals courtesy of no less than five lead singers, who mostly sing in English.
Included are also a number of explosive and catchy instrumentals, where the musicians present their respective skills in a party-styled fashion.
Take Your Flight, Jim! is currently only available via the band’s website and over there you decide the price yourself.
In the teaser promotional video for The Banyans debut album Steppin’ Forward a number of acclaimed Jamaican musicians and artists are praising the band and wishing them luck. And they obviously know what they’re talking about, because The Banyans has put out a mature set heavily influenced by Jamaican 70’s roots and albums by Bob Marley and Burning Spear.
This six piece French band has played more than 300 shows in the past five years and shared stages with Aswad, The Wailers, Anthony B, U Roy and Clinton Fearon among many more. And it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing.
The organ is blistering, the guitar is sharp, but not dominate. The vocal is lively, the horn section – courtesy of guest musicians – is vital and the riddim section trudges on driving the beat forward like a bulldozer. Just listen to the closing track Dreamer where the bass is pulsating making the blood almost boil over.
I’ve previously written about the thriving and vibrating French reggae scene with roots warriors such as Dub Inc, Donkey Jaw Bone, Rockers Disciples, Postive Roots Band, Danakil and Tu Shung Peng. These bands have just been challenged by a highly-skilled newcomer. Bring it on.
My first encounter with Senegalese singer Daba Makourejah and French eight piece band The Rockers Disciples, also known as RockDis All Stars, was on the vibrant compilation Musical Raid in 2011. Obviously they worked well together since they have recently put out the album Far Eye.
This 14 track set – of which nine are vocal cuts, five are dub versions and one is an instrumental – is a heavy slice of dense, thick, slow-paced and mesmerizing roots reggae spiced with the jazzy tones of Daba Makourejah.
The organ is put in the front row on several tracks, and this is especially tasty in the hypnotic dub versions. Just listen to the haunting sounds of Dina Diex and Dina Diex Dub or The System is a Fraud and Dubbin’ the System.
The finest moment is however the opening track Calabash Rock, which incorporates great horns, sirens and outer space keyboard sounds a’ la Sly & Robbie, and it also has the same spooky feel as The Specials’ immortal Ghost Town.
Far Eye is the fourth album from Rockers Disciples and is now available on CD and on digital platforms. Vinyl addicts can check the 12” EP, which collects three vocals and three dubs.
Legendary French deejay and singer duo Raggasonic is back after a ten year hiatus, where Big Red and Daddy Mory wanted to focus on their solo careers. Reputedly “everyone” has over the years asked them when they would link again, and apparently the pressure to record together became too hard.
Raggasonic 3 is their highly anticipated third album and it picks up just where Raggasonic 2 left off 15 years ago, and the new album is a natural follow-up and happily enough it offers more of the same good old Raggasonic.
It might have to do with world-renowned French producer Frenchie, who has been instrumental in shaping Raggasonic’s sound. He’s fortunately onboard again, but he’s not sole producer, and DJ Vadim, Animal Son, Central Massive and Young Veterans have also contributed with material to the album.
All riddims are brand new, except for Dans La Rue, backed by Frenchie’s Eek-A-Mouse-inspired Skateland Killer riddim, and offers a variety of styles and directions, including hip-hop, roots reggae, dancehall and electronica.
Raggasonic has never shied away from tough lyrical content, and on Raggasonic 3 the duo sings about the tough realities facing many people today, especially the younger generation. And they do it with passion and burning intensity.
This is an urban and contemporary effort, and even though it might not sell double gold, as the debut album did, but Raggasonic will hopefully appeal to a much wider audience today than 15 years ago. Don’t let the language be a barrier, and check out this solid album.
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.
About two years ago I wrote a serie of articles about reggae mash-ups, i.e. songs with a non-reggae a cappella set to a riddim.
Among the people I interviewed were French production duo Bost & Bim. They had just released the third edition of their Yankees A Yard mixtape series, a series where they mostly use hip-hop and R&B vocals and put it over self-produced riddims.
Now they’ve put out the third compilation in another series – The Bombing. The Bombing collects a number of the mash-ups utilized on the Yankees A Yard mixtapes, but this time in its full-length version.
The Bombing Vol. 3 hosts twelve cuts and vocalists such as Justin Timberlake, Pink and Usher with their club bangers My Love, Get This Party Started and Love in This Club.
The vocals fit perfectly to Bost & Bim’s bubbling, pulsating and bouncy riddims.
With the Yankees A Yard and The Bombing series Bost & Bim have managed to captivate the spirit of both reggae and hip-hop, and hopefully this Trojan horse strategy helps to spread reggae to a wider audience.
On his debut album Reasonin’ Portuguese/French singer Rod Anton has received some guiding light from no other than the legendary Congos, a trio that with last year’s We Nah Give Up proved that they’re still in great shape.
On Reasonin’ they supply both backing and lead vocals, and I guess it’s no coincidence that they collaborate with Rod Anton – his voice is very similar to Cedric Myton’s distinct falsetto.
The album was recorded in France, Jamaica and the U.S. and the warm, solid backing is provided by The Ligerians and echoes of 70’s Jamaica. Rod Anton sings in English as well as his native Portuguese and has apart from the Congos also invited Max Romeo and Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite to share microphone duties with him.
Max Romeo’s emotional, rugged voice contrasts nicely with Rod Anton. He turns up on Mr. Richman, with a lead guitar that sounds like a stoned Dick Dale, and the excellent Holy City, with a sublime clavinet solo and a skanking rock solid bass line.
Reasonin’ collects 14 tunes of, which three are interludes with a reasonin’ theme and two dub versions. Three of the vocal cuts are also extended.
Rod Anton’s debut album was preceded by two strong EP’s – one in 2010 and one in February this year – and he has managed to excel once again. Reasonin’ is yet another example of the vital French roots reggae scene.