Guinean singer Takana Zion returns to the rootsier side of reggae with his brand new album Good Life. A wise decision since his eclectic Kakilambe was a disappointment.
Good Life follows the same recipe as the monumental Rasta Government. The new album was also recorded in Jamaica – at Tuff Gong and not Harry J’s this time – with Sam Clayton at the controls and working with legendary local talents such as drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, sax maestro Dean Fraser and bass man Errol “Flabba” Holt.
Takana Zion is one of Africa’s finest reggae singers. Probably the best in my opinion. His sound is darker, rootiser and more uncompromising compared to greats such as Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly. He is a versatile artist equally at ease with both dread singing and singjaying.
Highlights include the uplifting album opener Africa Unite, pulsating nyabinghi take Congo Dreadlocks, the positive Hit My Soul – with its infectious sing-a-long chorus – and the dubby Mosiah Marcus.
Iconic singer Bunny Wailer also turns up on the album adding spirituality to When Jah Speaks. It’s not an ordinary combination track; it’s more like an endorsement from Bunny Wailer.
A solid set, though not nearly as strong as Rasta Government.
Vocal harmony trio The Heptones and their front man and lead singer/bass maestro Leroy Sibbles are an integral part of reggae history with countless of immortal songs and albums under their belt. Some of their best known material was recorded for producer Coxsone Dodd in the mid to late 60s and in the mid to late 70s for producer Lee Perry.
In the late 70s Leroy Sibbles quit the band and moved to Canada. He was replaced by Naggo Morris, who sings lead on the recently reissued album Good Life, a set I have always regarded as underrated.
It was produced Joseph Hoo Kim and recorded at Channel One with The Revolutionaries providing the rock-hard riddims. It features several tunes with beautiful vocal harmonizing – Every Day Every Night, Black Man Memory, Can’t Hide From Jah and Repatriation is a Must. The set also features a well-crafted version of Bob Marley’s Natural Mystic.
Good Life was The Heptones’ eleventh album and it definitely stands up to par with classics such as Party Time and Night Food. It’s now available on vinyl, CD and digital download.