Dubbing in the Backyard is the latest release from UK’s reggae reissue giant Pressure Sounds. It’s a slice of early 80s dub with riddims mostly laid by members of the High Times Band and mixed expertly by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s studio in Kingston.
The dubs are crisp, tight and sometimes viciously heavy and are versions of vocal cuts originally voiced by some of Jamaica’s finest singers – Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Jackie Edwards and Johnny Clarke. However, traces of the vocals cannot be found.
The sleevenotes is partly a journey of the making of the reggae documentary Deep Roots and Bunny Lee reveals anecdotes from recording sessions as well as the making of this album. It’s a detailed and fascinating story.
The King, the Prince and the Gorgon have always been a great combination. And this set is no exception.
Special request to all rub a dub heads. There’s a group from Haifa City in Israel that has made a raw and eclectic album titled Ain’t No Future with No Past. It’s by the group themselves described as something of a musical Caesar Salad.
Trilion is not a band in the ordinary sense. It’s more of a collective of individuals aiming to merge and clash bass heavy beats without any musical boundaries. And when doing so it sounds like they have had a lot of fun. Just listen to the first single Stop Igle or the vintage-sounding Ole Sound Tradition and you’ll find out what I mean.
But there’s also a harder and more serious side. Check the musically intimidating Tolerance with its smattering drums and wobbling and booming bass or the melancholic Broke Family.
With one foot in the 80s and 90s and one foot in the future Trilion presents a fresh take on rub-a-dub.
The late and great Dennis Brown’s daughter Marla Brown comes forward with another solid EP. Survivor includes six cuts, of which two are combinations – one with Indonesia’s Ras Muhamad and one with Jamaica’s Hempress Sativa.
Survivor is all about self-motivation, faith and especially family and unity, which is celebrated through a heartfelt and triumphant homage to her own mother Yvonne Brown. Mumma Knows Best is up-tempo and melodic with catchy hooks and powerful backing vocals.
Marla Brown continues to impress with youthful energy, thoughtful messages and confident singing.
Jamaican singer and singjay Teacha Dee dropped his debut album Reggae Souljahs: Beating Babylon With Music back in 2011 and now he has released his second album Rastafari Way, a set borrowing its title from his hit song with the same name.
The album is in the same musical vein as Rastafari Way and fans of the Teacha will be familiar with production and flow. This is contemporary, positive and uplifting roots reggae with bouncy bass lines and strong melodies.
Highlights among the 13 cuts include the infectious Do Today, on House of Riddim’s Danger Zone riddim, Jah Jah is Calling, also a House of Riddim production, and the sweet Keep Me Away.
Teacha Dee is a popular performer in Europe and with this release he will hopefully gain fans both in Europe and other parts of the world.
Austrian label and its main producer Syrix has dropped an earth-shaking, yet melodic, dub album filled with versions of hits from some of the artists that have recorded for the label.
On Dub Station Syrix has turned up the bass and let all his creativity flow throughout the label. The version of Luciano’s Hard Road is a booming one with loads of vocals from the original cut. Another killer track is the pulsating version of Anthony B’s Freedom Fighter with its bright horns and Anthony B’s authoritative voice echoing back and forth in the mix.
Dubheads should not sleep on this one.
Rebellious spirit Nattali Rize – founder and singer in Blue King Brown – recently dropped her electrifying debut solo album Rebel Frequency, a twelve track set recorded in Jamaica and Australia using several different studios, including the legendary Tuff Gong.
On the album she is joined by Jah9, Julian Marley, Kabaka Pyramid, Dre Island, Raging Fyah and Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and three previously released singles are included – Natty Rides Again, Generations Will Rize and the acoustic One People. And musically and lyrically these singles are representative for the full album.
Even though the album is recorded in different studios with many different people involved the sonic atmosphere is cohesive with its infectious melodies, pulsating bass lines and pounding drums. Nattali Rize is fierce and vigilant and her socio-political awareness shines through throughout the set.
She transmits her music and messages via a rebellious frequency and aims at empowering people and changing mindsets. According to Nattali Rize the world is in urgent need of a new system. The current one is broken.
After being away for several years Inna de Yard is back with a new album and a new label. This beautiful project was in the beginning more than ten years ago spearheaded by Jamaican guitar ace Earl “Chinna” Smith and rendered many excellent tunes, including the late Matthew McAnuff’s dread Be Careful.
The new album features a crème de la crème of Jamaican veteran vocalists, and a few spirited newer ones also checks in.
The Soul of Jamaica is just like the previous Inna de Yard sets acoustic with nyabinghi drumming and transcendental rhythms. Key cuts include Var’s powerful Crime, Bo-Pee’s beautiful Thanks & Praises and Ken Boothe’s versions of his own Let the Water Run Dry and Artibella. Ken Boothe sounds just as great as he did back in the 60s and 70s. It’s quite remarkable.
Conscious music that encapsulates the soul of Jamaica.
Singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist I-Taweh recently dropped his second album Judgement, a set following his debut set Overload, which was put out in 2011.
Judgement comes with 16 cuts, including three dub versions. Two of the tracks – Never Fade Away and Herb Treez – have previously been released as singles. The rest of the songs are new. And a number of these are infectious and catchy with tight musicianship.
The strongest cuts are the pulsating Make It (Rainy Day) and the melancholic No Night, a song with a powerful brass section courtesy of horn veterans Dean Fraser and the late Nambo Robinson.
With this self-produced set I-Taweh will hopefully attract a number of new followers.
With a sturdy 19 tracks there’s not a dull moment on Soul Jazz’ second installment of Studio One Rocksteady, although some of the tracks have previously been featured on countless of other albums. I’m talking about well-known songs like Alton Ellis’ I’m Still In Love With You, Slim Smit’s Born To Love and The Heptones’ I Shall Be Released.
The title is however slightly misleading since the album draws both Studio One’s deep rocksteady and early reggae vaults. And it offers a sweet mix of staples and obscure singles. Best of the bunch is The Termites’ pulsating Rub Up Push Up, Carlton & The Shoes’ melancholic Never Let Go, Cannon & The Soul Vendors’ bouncy instrumental Bad Treatment and The Actions’ up-tempo Giddy Up.
Studio One Rocksteady 2 includes a number of cuts that helped to shape reggae to an international phenomenon.
Roots reggae veteran Max Romeo’s children have stepped into the spotlight. A few years ago his son dropped the scorching Grow My Dread and about a month ago his daughter Xana Romeo put out her debut album Wake Up.
It has been a busy year for the Romeo’s. First Max Romeo’s own full-length Horror Zone and then Xana Romeo’s debut. Two solid sets, but with disparate sounds.
Horror Zone was a throwback to the 70s and certainly a very vintage sounding effort, whereas Wake Up is contemporary with a more modern soundscape.
Wake Up collects eleven cuts of which five are dub versions. The audio landscape is thick and ethereal with both brass and melodica. Xana Romeo sings with great confidence and heavy patois and her musical journey will be a delight to follow.