Tag Archives: Luciano

Dubmatix’ rebellious rocking

dubmatix-rebel-massiveBass-fueled Canadian producer and multi-instrumentalist Dubmatix is back with his fifth studio album Rebel Massive, a set collecting twelve songs, of which one is built on separate instrumental parts and gives the opportunity to create an own remix.

Dubmatix has over the years created his very own eclectic blend of contemporary reggae made up from an equal amount of early roots, dancehall, dub, drum & bass and electronica spiced with sounds effects such as sirens and laser beams. It has assaulted fans from all over the world, but it has also attracted lots of attention from acclaimed singers and deejays and Dubmatix has on his albums invited lots of guest singers, including Michael Rose, Alton Ellis, Mighty Diamonds and Dennis Alcapone.

Rebel Massive has twelve guests and some of the greatest performances are courtesy of the aggressive Tenor Fly on the hammering album opener Show Down, Luciano on the breezy Seeds of Love & Life and Tenja on the pulsating Can’t Put Us Down.

Eek-A-Mouse also lends his skills to the heavy as lead Pull Up Selector, a track sounding like it’s pushed forward by a steamroller.

This Toronto native and Juno Award winner continues to push sonic boundaries and cross-feeding traditional reggae with its bass heavy cousins and siblings.

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Bryan Art repackages debut album

bryanart-album2013Jamaican singer and musician Bryan Art’s new self-titled album is an odd one since eleven of its 13 tracks are lifted directly from his excellent debut album 20ten, released three years ago.

The new album is put out on a different label and only includes two new tracks – the hip-hop flavored Capleton combination Dem Fass and the haunting Warrior King duet New Day. Both are however also previously available, Dem Fass as a single and New Day on the Reggaeville riddim compilation.

This repackaging is a dirty and sneaky way of getting exposure of already available material and it would have been better if the label and its marketers would have been upfront with this. Luckily enough the set is solid, since the cocktail of refurbished vintage riddims and original material is first-rate. So is Bryan Art’s soulful and husky voice.

He’s also a prolific songwriter and has penned for acclaimed artists such as Luciano and Etana. He’s also an accomplished guitarist, member of the Firehouse Crew and leader of Bushman’s backing band the Grass Roots Band. In other words – he knows what he’s doing.

However, some of the strongest songs are left out this time, and the weakest one by far – the flat house influenced No Malice – is annoyingly still around.

The best way to learn more about Bryan Art’s tasteful sounds is to get the debut album and the two singles. That’s all you need for now.

Bryan Art is now available on CD and digital download.

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An average album from Mikey General

55b727bbf7986c47ab1224404fce0c55UK-born singer Mikey General has been in the music business for ages. He recorded his first tracks in the UK in the mid 80’s and later relocated to Jamaica where he started to work with the late producer Phillip “Fattis” Burell, for whom he has to date recorded his best material.

When in Jamaica he met vocalist Luciano and together they formed the jointly owned label Qabalah First Music, a label on which Mikey General has put out several albums. The latest is African Story, African Glory.

This 16 track set includes both old and new material recorded for a variety of different producers from Jamaica, Europe and the U.S.

The album offers mostly roots and culture material and includes a few gems, such as the Toussaint combination I Blaze, Innocent Blood on the haunting Sunrise Boulevard riddim and the pounding Pep in Your Step. There are however also a few disappointments, of which the synthesizer drenched Not Impossible and the Lfa Tunde combination All Over the World are the worst.

African Story, African Glory is decent album, but nothing outstanding despite some bright moments. Mikey General’s high tenor voice is also an acquired taste. His style works best in smaller doses, for example singles or combinations, such as the recently released Work with Uwe Banton or the bass heavy King Selassie I Alone for Reggaeland.

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Uwe Banton’s Mental War is a solid effort

The European reggae scene has been thriving for years and the development is mainly led by France, Germany and the UK, countries with several talented performers and producers. Both France and the UK have a large population of Caribbean descent. Germany, however, has managed to be a vital part of the European reggae scene without people coming from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago or some of the other islands where people live and breathe reggae and dancehall.

Bielefeld is a small German city known for its industries and its local university, but also for roots rasta artist Uwe Banton. Well, Bielefeld is maybe not synonymous with Uwe Banton yet, but things might change thanks to his third solo album Mental War, a 13 track set mostly produced by the singer himself and with a little help from musicians such as Moritz von Korff, who has played a important role in the development of the contemporary European reggae scene.

Mental War offers the usual rootsy European sound with influences from hip-hop, soul and ska and with lyrics dealing with faith, unity, romance and the importance of making an effort in life working and contributing to society. The latter topic is of great importance at the moment due to the debt crisis in the U.S. and parts of Europe.

Uwe Banton has also thrown in the more or less mandatory marijuana anthem. The Roots of It (Cannabis Song) is a bright and sing-a-long friendly piece where he argues why ganja should be legal.

The album collects four combinations – two with Jamaican veterans Mikey General and Luciano and two with fellow Germans Jahcoustix and Cornadoor. The duet with Jahcoustix is recorded over Dub Inc’s mighty No Doubt riddim released last year and is the strongest moment on an otherwise solid set.

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No fillers on new compilation from Maximum Sound

In late June I summarized the first six months of the year with a selection of my 15 favorite tunes yet. The list included two tracks – Captain Sinbad’s Capital Offence and Tarrus Riley’s Chant Rastafari – on the mighty Maximum Sound label, and if Luciano’s Perilous Times on the Dance Ruler riddim would have been issued at the time it would definitely also have made the list.

These three songs along with 16 more are collected on the compilation Maximum Sound 2012. As the title suggests it is made up from the label’s vinyl releases this year, which means the riddims Most Royal, Leggo di Riddim, the aforementioned Dance Ruler and Rude Bwoy Be Nice, a clever relick of Ini Kamoze’s England Be Nice, a track recently utilized by Don Corleon for Protoje’s Kingston Be Nice.

As usual with material from producer Frenchie and Maximum Sound the crème de la crème of Jamaican artists are featured and there’s a no filler rule applied, which makes the selection strong as concrete. Do yourself a favor and go check this digital only compilation immediately.

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Macka B aims to change the world

UK veteran artist Macka B is back with his first album in four years. His brand new set Change the World is released via his own imprint Chileno Records and produced in tandem with reggae revivalist Chris Peckings and the more contemporary flavored Iron Fist Productions. Invited are also notable guest artists Luciano, Earl 16, David Hinds from Steel Pulse and Lloyd Brown.

Macka B has as usual put together accessible, thoughtful and meaningful lyrics to the 16 cuts. He deals with equality in the acoustic punk-influenced Postcode War, sustainability in No Nuclear Energy “we don’t want no nuclear energy, nuclear power is the enemy”, medical marijuana in the clearly titled Medical Marijuana and Make a Claim, a clever take on slavery.

But Macka B also takes on lighter subjects. Never Played a 45 is an acclaimed vinyl love story on the 54-46 aka Boops riddim and in Reggae Daddy Macka B makes it perfectly clear that reggae is the cornerstone in several music genres developed in the UK – jungle, funky house, grime, dubstep and garage.

Even though Macka B usually described as an MC or singjay, on this set his delivery often leans more toward straight singing. And on contrary to many other singjays he sings with a nice pitch control.

Change the World may affect politicians, CEO’s and powerful decisions makers around the world, but it will most definitely change your record collection to the better.

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Phillip “Fatis” Burrell has passed away

Phillip “Fatis” Burrell – one of Jamaica’s greatest and most important producers – passed away last night following compilations from a stroke about two weeks ago, reports several sources.

Phillip Burrell was born in England, but moved to Jamaica where he started his production career in the mid 80’s.

His breakthrough came in the early 90’s when he set up his Xterminator label producing artists such as Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond and a truck load of other well-known singers.

He was also part of the rasta renaissance in the 90’s and instrumental in shaping the careers of Sizzla, Luciano and Turbulence.

The output from the Xtermintor camp slowed down when Sizzla, Luciano and Mikey General left the label in the late 90’s. Recently Phillip Burrell’s son Kareem has put out a number of new riddims on the Xterminator imprint showcasing both old and new talents.

A start to get acquainted with the Xterminator label is the compilation Rough inna Town: The Xterminator Sound on Maximum Pressure. Included are the wicked Luciano & Josey Wales & Charlie Chaplin combination Rebel With A Cause or Luciano’s own chesty Gunzalis with a echo-laid saxophone.

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New riddim from Maximum Sound

The always reliable producer Frenchie has dropped another great riddim, this one is called Fairground, and is a nice piece of energetic modern roots reggae.

It’s voiced by I-Octane, Konshens, Luciano and Fantan Mojah, and is now available as 7” in all good record stores. In late July it will also be made available as digital download on iTunes.

Maximum Sound has had some great releases in 2011. In April the label dropped the acclaimed riddims Sound Exterminata, Ghetto State, with elements from Half Pint’s One Big Ghetto, and Skateland Killer, based on Eek-A-Mouse’s Star, Daily News and Gleaner.

If you’re curious on how Fairground riddim sounds you can visit Maximum Sound’s new YouTube channel here and listen to the megamix, which also includes cuts from Chris Martin, Cecile and Zinc Fence featuring Stylo G.


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Luciano is on a crusade against slackness

Ok, so my over exposure light started flashing again when I noticed that Luciano was going to put out his third full length album in a year.

However, just like Write My Name – his second album in 2010 – my expectations are exceeded. Rub a Dub Market is yet another strong effort from this veteran roots singer.

Vienna-based IrieVibrations has handled the production duties. And their collaboration with Luciano have proven fruitful before with tunes such as Always Around on the Caribbean riddim and the up tempo ska outing Feeling for Love on the Work Off riddim. Both included on this new set.

Luciano moves effortless between lovers rock lyrics and more cultural and conscious ditto. He is on a crusade against the direction reggae music is heading.

On the title track on his previous album he sung “All veterans and all apprentice, open up your ears and listen to this, we come fi bun up corruption and trample slackness and put the roots music number one pon the list.”

On the title track for Rub a Dub Market the theme is familiar. He sings “…them making music to gain some fame, but is all in vain…roots and culture wear the crown.” It’s an appeal to the reggae business and targets the fast moving digital production.

The riddims are well crafted and played with live instruments. Luciano’s choruses are just as grandiose and beautiful as ever. Just listen to Only You Jah or Voice of a Trumpet.

I can’t help to be impressed by Luciano. Three huge sets in a year. It’s hard to beat that.


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Garnett Silk will always be remembered

Garnett SilkYesterday the late Garnett Silk would have turned 45 years old. Instead he died a tragic death only 28 years of age when trying to rescue his mother from a burning house that had been set on fire because of accidental gun fire on a propane gas tank. Garnett Silk was survived by a wife, three children and two brothers.

At the time he had been laying down tracks for his second album with producer Errol Brown and ten tunes were completed and released several years later.

Garnett Silk was a prominent person in the early 90’s rasta renaissance, a time when a new breed of cultural singers entered the stage. Everton Blender and Luciano were part of this movement.

He started his career deejaying as Little Bimbo with tunes such as See Bimbo Yah, but later adopted a style that was highly conscious showcasing his gospel influenced tenor voice. He marked a turning point in reggae and paved the way for singers such as Jahmali, Bushman, Sizzla, Anthony B and rasta converts like Buju Banton and Capleton.

Bobby “Digital” Dixon was the mastermind behind his only full-length album – the astonishing It’s Growing released in 1992. The album was an instant bestseller in Jamaica and Garnett Silk managed to secure an international record deal with Atlantic.

Even though he had a short career he recorded with some of Jamaica’s top talents, including King Jammy, Steely & Clevie, Richard “Bello” Bell and Sly & Robbie, dropping hit tunes like Fill Us Up With Your Mercy, Hello Mama Africa and Zion in a Vision.

After his untimely death there has been several compilations dedicated to his work. The most complete is Music is the Rod. Those who want to dig deeper can check out the two dubplate compilations Killamanjaro Remembers Garnett Silk and Garnett Silk Meets the Conquering Lion.

Garnett Silk has been compared to Bob Marley and hailed as his successor, even though Bob Marley died more than ten years before Garnett Silk dropped his debut album.

It is of course hard to predict whether Garnett Silk would have had a big international breakthrough to the general public, or remained a favourite to the reggae audience.

One thing is however crystal clear – Garnett Silk was a powerful force and is one of the most talented reggae artists of all time. He was a bright shining light and his presence will forever be remembered both through his own great work and through some of his followers – Ras Shiloh, Ras Sherby and Terry Linen. These three artists are great singers, but there is only one Garnett Silk.

Sources: The Rough Guide to Reggae by Steve Barrow & Peter Dalton and The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae by Colin Larkin (editor).

Ten must hear tunes by the late and great Garnett Silk

Garnett Silk – Jah Jah is the Ruler
Garnett Silk – Keep Them Talking
Garnett Silk – Complain
Garnett Silk – Bless Me
Garnett Silk – I am Vex
Garnett Silk – Move On Slow
Garnett Silk – Place in Your Heart
Garnett Silk & Tony RebelChristian Soldiers
Garnett Silk – Love is the Answer
Garnett Silk – Splashing Dashing

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