Junior Kelly is a mature reggae artist with great confidence. That’s clear when listening to his latest full-length set Urban Poet. This album is an album firmly rooted in old school soul and its sound is described by Junior Kelly himself as Motown Reggae. And that’s a telling description. It’s positive, vibrant and joyous from beginning to end and it sounds like Junior Kelly had a great time recording it together with Austria’s Irievibrations Records.
He has had artistic freedom when making the album and he’s obviously a fan of 60s and 70s soul and funk. Just listen to cuts like the infectious Mile In My Shoes, the insanely funky Hooked On Mary with its lovely guitar lick and To Get By with its pulsating disco bass line.
But fans of classic Junior Kelly won’t be disappointed. There’s plenty of reggae included as well. Both Power To the People and Put It Pon Me is excellent contemporary rootsy reggae.
Press releases from labels always tend to exaggerate and I rarely agree with the great amount of superlatives used to describe the artist and the music. But when reading about Urban Poet I must agree. This album collects “incredible live riddims, exciting musicianship and vocal artistry at its best” and is a “masterpiece”.
Acclaimed Austrian label Irievibrations Records – led by Syrix and Professa – have produced an insightful short documentary series about the art of Jamaican music production. It’s an intimate look behind the art and history of how reggae music is crafted in its native Jamaica.
The first season of Studio Chronicles covers producers and mixing engineers like King Jammy, Stephen Stewart, who currently owns and operates the legendary Harry J studio, Don Corleon and Gussie Clarke. Featured artists and musicians include Konshens and his brother Delus along with Junior Kelly and Sly Dunbar.
The first three episodes are now available on Youtube and you can check the trailer below.
Five years ago Austria’s leading reggae and dancehall label Irievibrations Records dropped their first compilation – Still One Drop. It collected some of their finest work between 2003 and 2009, including Burro Banton’s superb up-tempo ska scorcher Run the Streets Red and Delus & Konshens’, aka Sojah, ganja anthem So High.
Since that album the label has put out a number of highly acclaimed albums and singles. Both Luciano’s Rub a Dub Market and Anthony B’s Freedom Fighter have been hailed as some of their best work in recent years. And one of Konshens’ latest singles – My Journey – certainly promises well for his announced upcoming second album.
Solid Foundation is the second compilation from Irievibrations and it showcases some of their best tunes over the past five years. The musical spectrum is broad and its title is a telling one. You have the usual well-produced European one drop, like Luciano’s Rub a Dub Market or Denham Smith’s Ordinary Man, but also bouncy and grim dancehall, as on Anthony B & Konshens’ Beat Dem Bad.
It also collects one or two surprises. Particularly Junior Kelly’s Mile in My Shoes, which is a certified northern soul stomper. Had no idea Junior Kelly would fit on a furious 60s soul beat. But he definitely does.
Irievibrations has been dropping solid music for about ten years and put out over 80 releases from local and international artists. This compilation shows their trademark and genuine sound and I’m looking forward to at least ten more years.