Saxophonist Lee Thompson and bass player Mark Bedford, two founding members of Madness, have a new band together – The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra. The project started out a few years ago with a few gigs and it worked out so well that the band decided to record an album together with the always reliable vintage-sounding producer Mike Pelanconi aka Prince Fatty.
This twelve track ska and reggae album collects only covers and mixes instrumentals with vocal versions. Its title – The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius – is a nod and a tribute to Sister Mary Ignatius, who played a vital role in the development of ska and reggae as head of the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica, in the early 60s.
The album is rocking and swinging and includes covers of immortal tunes by John Holt (Ali Baba) and Don Drummond (Eastern Standard Time) alongside ska versions of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission Impossible theme, Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider and Fats Domino’s Hello Josephine. The standout tune is however Desmond Dekker’s Fu Man Chu with guest vocalist Bitty McLean.
This is old school ska at its best. Prepare yourself for some good time stomping – knees up, arms rocking sideways and a huge smile on your face.
Crowd-rocking and genre-switching DJ and remix wizard Jstar has shook up dance floors worldwide for the past ten years. For his new compilation Licensed Plates he has selected 14 favorites of his more than 60 official remixes dating between 2005 and 2012.
Jstar is probably most well-known for his tasty, clever and border-crossing mash-ups mixing reggae and dancehall with hip-hop, soul and R&B. Some of his finest moments are the acclaimed No Diggity where Black Street’s No Diggity rides the immortal Real Rock riddim or Regulate Rock where Jennier Lara’s reggae version of soul singer Marlena Shaw’s Woman of the Ghetto, Studio One’s ill Rockfort Rock riddim and the late Nate Dogg’s Regulate are mashed to perfection.
None of these are however included on the bass heavy and wobbling Licensed Plates. Included are instead reggae-infused re-workings of cuts from Madness, DJ Vadim, The Black Seeds, Resonators and Dub Terminator among many more. The brightest light is however Ten Feet Tall by Mr Dero & Jstar featuring Farina Miss, where the youthful and sassy Farina Miss rides a bouncy 80’s styled riddim.
Jstar has deconstructed and restructured, reshaped and built up again. He has treated the material with a sonic fusion of drum and bass, dubstep, dancehall, reggae and dub and flavored the music with audio effects, samples and a whole lot of nuances. Every time you listen back to a track you notice something new.
Licensed Plates is re-mastered from tape and the collage on the cover sleeve is made by Jstar himself. It’s currently available on CD, digital platforms or as limited double gatefold LP.