Japan’s Dub Store Records has reissued The Kingston Rock. This twelve track combination album was originally released in 1974 on RCA, and was at the time issued as a generic reggae compilation with no main artist credited on the cover.
On the first reissue, which was on Atra, Horace Andy was pictured on the cover and the album was titled Earth Must Be Hell.
The set is however no Horace Andy set; it’s a combination effort with Winston Jarrett produced by Brent Clarke and Aston “Family Man” Barrett. The latter was at the time part of The Wailers and one might think that such a thing would have been a blessing for any marketer, but for some reason it wasn’t highlighted.
The Kingston Rock is a marvellous album with killer cuts from both Horace Andy and Winston Jarrett; two singers with radically different voices. Horace Andy is soft, while Winston Jarrett has a rougher and more rural style complemented by beautiful harmonies. Check for example the stunning Wake Up Suzy with its rock steady harmonizing.
A rock solid album showcasing two of Jamaica’s most distinct voices.
In late March UK roots outfit Zion Train dropped their Land of the Blind album and now comes a third riddim release from that set. Just Say EP comes with four tracks – three vocal cuts and one dub version.
On board this driving one riddim EP is the legendary Horace Andy alongside deejays Fitta Warri and Longfingah. The dub version of Horace Andy’s Just Say Who is courtesy of Italy’s Almamegretta.
Just Say EP drops on May 19.
Horace Andy has one of the most distinct and expressive voices in reggae and his vibrato is instantly recognizable. And his singing is very much in focus on the Phil Pratt-produced album Get Wise, recently reissued by Pressure Sounds on CD and LP.
This hypnotic set collects 16 tracks – 14 on the vinyl edition – of the highest calibre. The mood is dark and dread and the arrangements are sparse, often with only the bare essentials – guitar, bass and drums. Others also include piano, organ, horns and harmony by acclaimed singers such as Keith Poppin, Al Campbell, Jimmy London and Phil Pratt himself.
Phil Pratt and Horace Andy first worked together in the mid 60s, but this set was recorded between 1972 and 1974 and then only released in Jamaica in 1975. It is built around a series of 7”, but sounds remarkably consistent and certainly has a high level of continuity in its production.
Apart from strong vocal cuts – including versions of Zion Gate and Youths of Today – from the passionate and emotional Horace Andy, the set also features instrumentals from Phil Pratt Allstars and some wicked deejaying from Jah Stitch.
Pressure Sounds has yet again manage to find another rare and excellent gem that has been unavailable for almost 40 years.
UK premier reissue label Pressure Sounds definitely seems to have a well-functioning relationship with Jamaican producer Phil Pratt. The label has previously released a number of hard to find tunes and albums from this great producer and now yet another album is set to arrive.
Horace Andy and Phil Pratt met in the 60s and their first tune together was Black Man’s Country, issued on the Caltone label. In the mid 70s they worked together again, and this time it was for the Get Wise album, a set to be released on Pressure Sounds on March 31 on LP and CD.
It was originally only released in Jamaica and the reissue will carry six bonus tracks for the CD and four for the vinyl version. It also comes with the original artwork sleevenotes and has been fully re-mastered from the original vinyl.
Successful producer, engineer and label owner Prince Jammy, later King Jammy, has recently earned himself two collector’s box sets on reggae powerhouse VP Records. One of them – Rootsman Vibrations at King Jammy’s – was reviewed by Reggaemani only a week ago.
The second set is titled Vocal Superstars at King Jammy’s. And the title doesn’t lie. The four album box set collects one album each from Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Horace Andy and Sugar Minott. These are some of Jamaica’s most gifted and celebrated singers, and unfortunately Horace Andy is the only one still alive.
This set isn’t as cohesive as Rootsman Vibrations. Or it has one main oddity – Sugar Minott’s Bitter Sweet. A great album in every aspect, but it’s an organic roots album with live instrumentation put out in 1979. The other three albums – Dennis Brown’s History aka The Exit, Gregory Isaacs’ Come Along and Horace Andy’s Haul and Jack-Up – were originally released in the mid to late 80s and have a completely different sound – sparse, computerized and digital with drum machines and synths.
All albums bear King Jammy’s signature sweet reggae sound and even though none of them are regarded as a classic these days, they still sound strong and the box set showcases the shift from analogue reggae to digital dancehall.
Horace Andy’s catalogue spans more than 40 years and includes a vast number of hits songs for a wide range of producers, including legends such as Coxsone Dodd, Phill Pratt and Bunny Lee.
German reggae, dub and electronica label Echo Beach has hi-jacked a bunch of his most beloved recordings for a remix album titled Broken Beats. And instead of using the original vocals, Horace Andy stepped into the studio to sing new versions on top of these cherished riddims.
His distinct falsetto is one of greatest in the business. His voice is however darker and deeper – but not weaker – compared to his glory days in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
There are several versions of each track – three cuts of the classic Skylarking, two renditions of the mighty Cuss Cuss and so on. Some might probably think that the remixers have demolished and destroyed these beloved recordings, while some would agree that they have only refurbished and refined them for a new generation of listeners.
Truth is that both sides are right. Some remixes are too much and make you long for the original version, while others get a new edge by the electric out of space alien treatment. An example of the latter is Rob Smith’s version of Cuss Cuss with its drugged out bass line and frantic percussion as well as Dubblestandart’s dreamy Money Money.
Broken Beats is at times hypnotic, at times relaxed, and it sheds light on of one reggae’s finest singers and takes his music into the future.
Pioneering deejay U Roy is sometimes labeled as the originator of the modern Jamaican deejay style and has been a vital force in reggae music since the late 60’s when he scored his first smash hits and held the three top spots on the Jamaican music chart with Wake the Town, Rule the Nation and Wear You to the Ball recorded over some of the late Duke Reid’s biggest rock steady cuts.
He has recorded music for almost five decades, including working with Niney, Joe Gibbs, Tony Robinson, Tappa Zukie and Mad Professor. His two latest sets – Now released in 2001 and Rebel in Styylle put out in 2003 – have been combination albums, meaning U Roy joining forces with a singer on each track.
His brand new album Pray fi di People is in the same style, and has U Roy teaming up with Jamaican, African, American and European singers, including Marcia Griffiths, Horace Andy, Chezidek, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Harrison Stafford aka Professor from U.S. progressive reggae rockers Groundation.
The album was produced by Bravo in Jamaica and collects 13 live played tracks over mostly refurbished vintage riddims, of which one is a cover version of Toots & The Maytals’ 70’s party starter Pomps and Pride. Tarrus Riley does a fine interpretation as Toots.
Pray fi di People might be a bit ordinary and generic, and U Roy is a little less energetic compared to his previous work, but considering the man being 70 years old he certainly does an excellent job. And the album is at its best when he shares vocal duties with the dramatic voiced Professor and the sweet timbre of Horace Andy.
Pray fi di People drops on French Soulbeats Records on Tuesday October 9 as CD and digital download.