Tag Archives: Music

Top ten reggae album reissues in 2017

The third and last top list in 2017 collects best reggae album reissues. As usual the list includes albums from reissue giants Pressure Sounds and Soul Jazz, but this year adds releases from German based label Cree, France’s Patate and the newly revitalized Studio One label, which has a fruitful partnership with Yep Roc Music Group.

The list below is presented in no particular order and if you’re curious about the albums make sure to check my Spotify playlist with four sets. Download the playlist here. Enjoy!

Artist – title
Various – Black Man’s Pride
A collection of deep heavyweight reggae featuring Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, The Gladiators, Sugar Minott, The Heptones, Freddie McGregor, Cedric Brooks and more.

Various – Studio One Supreme – Maximum 70s And 80s Early Dancehall Sounds
Comes with classics and lesser-known gems from some of Jamaica’s finest artists.

Freddie McKay – Picture On the Wall
Freddie McKay has never got the recognition he deserves. He is for sure one of Jamaica’s finest singers of all time. Listen to this set and you’ll understand why.

Lloyd Parks – Time a Go Dread
This hefty set comes with 22 track, including Slaving and its version. And the remaining 20 cuts are just as great and demonstrate Lloyd Parks’ gift for writing socially conscious lyrics and catchy melodies.

Various – Sly & Robbie Present Taxi Gang In Discomix Style 1978-87
Draws recordings from Sly & Robbie’s Taxi label and showcases a very special blend of reggae and U.S. soul and R&B. Included are covers of a number of classics.

Various – The #1 Sound: From The Vaults Vol. 1
An 18 track bonanza of rare Studio One sides featuring both the label’s top hit makers as well as some of its more obscure artists. Includes recordings from the late 60s to the early 1980s.

Various – Doing Our Thing: More Soul From Jamdown 1970-82
The follow-up to Taxi Gang in Discomix Style and collects another set of Jamaican cover versions of U.S. soul and R&B tunes.

Early B – Ghost Busters
Killer deejay album originally released in 1985 that has cried to be reissued.

Lloyd Parks & We The People – Meet The People
Excellent roots album from bass man Lloyd Parks and his band We the People Band.

Horace Andy – Good Vibes
Collection of discomix singles from the 70s originally released on Blood & Fire and now reissued by VP Records. Excellent versions of Horace Andy classics, including the mighty Skylarking.

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Top 20 reggae albums in 2017

It’s December and that means holiday and lists. Reggaemani will present top lists featuring albums, songs and reissues. And I kick things off with 20 albums that rocked my world in the past year.

The list below is diverse with several different countries, styles and genres represented. Included are artists from Jamaica, the U.S., France, Spain, Switzerland and the UK covering roots, dancehall, dub, ska, jazz and hip-hop.

The list below is presented in no particular order and if you’re curious about the albums make sure to check my Spotify playlist with 18 sets. Download the playlist here. Enjoy!

Artist – title
Mista Savona – Havana Meets Kingston
A historical musical meeting and the warm compositions bubble with energy and sincerity.

Ken Boothe – Inna de Yard
A heartfelt and genuine album produced with love and care for reggae music.

Randy Valentine – New Narrative
A personal album where Randy Valentine guides the listener through his life journey so far. It’s personal and intimate and throughout the set he conveys the power to manifest one’s own destiny and take responsibility for one’s own actions.

Red Foot & The Shades – Children’s Prayer
A dreamy, emotional and soothing masterpiece recorded and mixed with analogue equipment and powered by devout musical and spiritual perspectives.

Lee Perry & Subatomic Sound System – Super Ape Returns to Conquer
Classic album for a new generation of dub fans.

Jesse Royal – Lily of da Valley
Showcases Jesse Royal’s sparkling and versatile vocal delivery and sense for infectious melodies and hooks. It’s certainly a well-rounded debut offering a little something for everyone.

The Expanders – Old Time Something Come Back Again
A cover album that’s far from nostalgic. The Expanders put their signature mark on every track with vintage vibes and a vocal style reminiscent of reggae from the late 60s.

Mr. Williamz & Green Lion Crew – The General Comes to Town
Mr. Williamz’ flow is as usual flawless and the beats and riddims he rides are ultra-solid and rock-hard.

L’Entourloop – Le savoir faire
With Le savoir faire L’Entourloop has created a playful and clever album taking the very best from reggae, dancehall and hip-hop. A bona-fide head-nodder with less than zero dull moments.

Ras Zacharri & MNIB – Love Over Hate
Ras Zacharri’s warm and raspy voice suits these elegant, and sometimes militant, riddims and arrangements very well.

Lutan Fyah – Music Will Never Die
Comes with clever and detailed arrangements, infectious melodies and passionate and earnest performances from Lutan Fyah.

Stand High Patrol – The Shift
Stand High Patrol’s sound and Pupajim’s broken English might not be for everyone and The Shift is far from the reggae mainstream. But if you’re in the mood for jazz with a hip-hop and reggae twist, well, then this is the album for you.

Damian Marley – Stony Hill
A solid album, which would have been even better with 12 rather than 18 tracks.

Samory I – Black Gold
The riddims are majestic and the cuts often come with long instrumental parts. It’s a solid musical journey with Samory I’s heartfelt vocals and conscious lyrics on top of it all

Vin Morgan Meets Lone Ark – Give Thanks
Check the militancy of a cut like Can’t Complain Dub with its smattering percussion, haunting keys and fanfare like horns. Best of the bunch is however the bright and uplifting Gimme the Vibes.

Chronixx – Chronology
With Chronology Chronixx expands the roots reggae horizon and in a few years this album will rank as one of reggae’s landmark albums.

Mark Wonder – Dragon Slayer
His voice has improved over the years, but he still sounds a lot like the late and great Garnett Silk. His singing is emotional and powerful and he delivers these cultural and militant numbers with melody and soul.

Courtney John – Ecosystem
His velvety and heartfelt voice flows like a river over the well-crafted rhythms. Highly recommended.

Keith & Tex – Same Old Story
The harmonies are tight and many of the cuts have a melancholic feel to them. And the duo covers themes from broken hearts to the refugee crisis in Syria.

Kristine Alicia – Songs From Zion
Kristine Alicia, who is a trained pianist and has released a gospel- inspired reggae album, is a remarkable singer and together with producer Rorystonelove she has created a musical masterpiece.

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Mista Savona creates musical history with Havana Meets Kingston

unnamedAustralia’s leading reggae producer Mista Savona has spearheaded the Havana Meets Kingston album, a musical project where the distinct sounds of two islands meet.

On the album veteran and emerging Cuban and Jamaican musicians and singers join each-other to version classics and create new songs fusing reggae and dancehall with Cuban and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

The set features a stellar cast of performers, including Sly & Robbie, Leroy Sibbles, Lutan Fyah, Cornell Campbell and Randy Valentine along with original Buena Vista Social Club instrumentalists Ronaldo Luna and Barbarito Torres.

Havana Meets Kingston is a historical musical meeting and the warm songs bubble with energy and sincerity. Best of the bunch is a version of Bob Marley’s Positive Vibration, where Randy Valentine’s emotive singing certainly makes a mark, the pulsating In the Ghetto – Where We’re From, the fierce Heart of a Lion and, of course, the first single off the album – Carnival, a song which effortlessly blends Cuban and Jamaican musical elements.

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Stellar acoustic album from Ken Boothe

ken-boothe-inna-di-yard-lpMore than ten years ago veteran Jamaican guitar maestro Earl “Chinna” Smith started the Inna de Yard project where seasoned and upcoming singers recorded acoustic versions of their songs.

The project was a hit and groups and singers like The Viceroys, The Mighty Diamonds, The Congos and Kiddus I were on board. Several albums and singles were released via French label Makasound. Unfortunately the label folded and the project was put on ice.

Until earlier this year when Chapter Two Records, something of a reincarnation of Makasound, dropped the compilation The Soul of Jamaica, which was credited to Inna de Yard. The project was suddenly alive again and now another album has been put out. And the singer is no other than Ken Boothe, one of Jamaica’s greatest vocalists with a string of hits in the 60s and 70s.

Ken Boothe was featured on The Soul of Jamaica. His versions of Let the Water Run Dry and Artibella were two of the strongest cuts on the compilation.

His Inna de Yard set features another nine versions of some of his previous recordings; all recorded with acoustic instrumentation with nyabinghi drumming, horns and the occasional accordion. The versions are intimate and warm and the arrangements allow Ken Boothe’s gritty singing to shine throughout this stunning set.

A heartfelt and genuine album produced with love and care for reggae music.

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Devon Clarke follows in Tenor Saw’s footsteps

a2208899880_2Devon Clarke has been recording since the mid-80s and now – about 30 years after his first singles – his debut album has been released via US label Bent Back Records. Devon Clarke has mostly worked with Massive B and Digital English, but he hasn’t really recorded much over the years.

His style is reminiscent of mid-80s giants Tenor Saw, Nitty Gritty, King Kong and Anthony red Rose. A simple, smooth, hypnotic and flat style with catchy melodies delivered over old school synthesized riddims.

The set comes with ten tracks – vocals on one side and versions on the other. The standout cut is Beat the Banker, on which he rides a moody version of King Tubby’s fierce Tempo riddim. Other highlights include the JohnnyGo Figure combination Soldier and a remix of Hangin’ in Deh, originally released in 2014 on Bent Back.

Call Me Bobo Saw is mid-80s digital reggae at its very best.

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Breezy disco reggae on new compilation

cs661982-01a-bigStix Records is back with yet another compilation focusing on making reggae versions of soul and disco scorchers. This third edition comes with a variety of producers, including Taggy Matcher, who is onboard as usual and graces the album with three productions.

The nine track set includes both newly recorded material and classics. And among the standout tracks are Mato’s reggae refix of Lucas Arruda & Leon Ware’s funky Melt the Night with its slick guitar work and Taggy Matcher’s version of Inner City’s Big Fun complete with great horns and a memorable synth line. Also included is The Dynamics’ version of Rolling Stones’ disco joint I Miss You with its infectious “oooh oooh oooh oooh and aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah” chorus.

Cool, breezy and funky. Music for laid-back cats.

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Lee Perry and Subatomic Sound System revive and revitalize Super Ape

leescratchperry-superapereturnstoconquerIn 1976 Lee Perry dropped one of the best dub albums ever recorded – Super Ape. Now 41 years after its original release, and when Lee Perry is 81 years old, he has joined forces with New York City’s Subatomic Sound System to re-record the album using today’s technology.

It’s a bold move to try and improve a masterpiece, but the result is stunning. Super Ape Returns To Conquer is true to the original sound with its dense and steamy tropical sonic landscape. But at the same time it has more punch thanks to influences from electronic music, dubstep and hip-hop. It has superb horns and pounding percussion along with booming bass, blasting beats and blazing energy.

Lee Perry’s idiosyncratic vocals is present throughout the album, but a number of guest vocalists also turn up – Jahdan Blakkamoore, Screechy Dan and the late Ari-Up from punk rock band The Slits. Dub music has however never been about vocals. It’s about atmosphere and mixing and the ability to create something new by using something already recorded.

Or as Emch from Subatomic Sound System describes the recording process – “We didn’t create the album like it was being re-recorded today with current technology. We imagined we went back in a time machine to 1976 and brought Lee Perry the tools he needed to create an album he envisioned that would sound like it was 40 years in the future, so that today’s listeners can recognize that in 1976 it was in fact 40 years ahead of its time.”

A classic album for a new generation of dub fans.

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Many highlights on LMK’s new album

csm_lmk-highlights_638232200aFrench versatile singer and singjay LMK drops her second album Highlights, the follow-up to her debut full-length Musical Garden released in 2015. On this new set she has sharpened her musical edge and crafted many memorable hooks and catchy choruses.

Highlights is a dancehall album particularly influenced by R&B, hip-hop and pop. It’s delightful and the chorus on See the Light is simply irresistible with its strings and LMK’s sprightly and youthful singing.

But she also has another side. Check the fierce See Dem Out and the brilliant Skarra Mucci combination Crazy And Alive where she showcases her rapping and fast chatting style. She also has a distinct hip-hop connection and is joined by four U.S. rappers – Reverie and Gavlyn along with veterans Mann and Billy Danze from Brooklyn’s MOP.

LMK is along with Soom T and Marina P the most promising and interesting talent on the European reggae and dancehall scene.

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Strong debut album from Jesse Royal

unnamedOne of my most anticipated releases this year dropped last week. I’m talking about Jamaican superior chanter and singer Jesse Royal and his debut album Lily of Da Valley,a 14 track set including already familiar cuts like Finally and Modern Day Judas along with recent singles like the Jo Mersa Marley combination Generation and Always Be Around.

Jesse Royal has been in the music business since his early 20s and dropped some of his earliest material for the Xterminator label, nowadays XTM Nation, led by Philip “Fattis” Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell. Early singles like Hatred is the Obsolete Route and One Eye Open boded well for the future and in 2013 he broke big with the massive Modern Day Judes on Winta James’ Rootsman riddim, probably best known for Chronixx’ Here Comes Trouble.

Further strong singles soon followed, including Preying On the Weak, Raging Storm, Cool And Deadly and Blowing In the Wind. And now his debut album has finally arrived. It comes with ten previously unreleased cuts and carries both conscious messages pushing for positive changes along with party starters and love songs.

The powerful album opener 400 Years is a battle against oppression while both Roll Me Something and Finally praises the herb. The Natty Rico combination Full Moon is something of an oddity with its electro beat and Major Lazer-influenced synthesizer hook. It’s insanely catchy, but takes a few listens to get acquainted with.

Lily of Da Valley showcases Jesse Royal’s sparkling and versatile vocal delivery and sense for infectious melodies and hooks. It’s certainly a well-rounded debut offering a little something for everyone.

So let’s follow Jesse Royal’s instructions on the breezy and 80s sounding Rock It Tonight – “hey there DJ, won’t you put this one upon reply, I don’t want this party to decay, gonna be a soul shakedown tonight”.

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The Expanders shines on new cover album

unnamedPopular U.S. reggae band The Expanders has released the second installment in their cover series Old Time Something Come Back Again. The first version was put out in 2013 as a vinyl only release.

On this second volume they shine on 15 cuts originally released by singers and groups such as Burning Spear, The Ethiopians, The Itals, Yabby You and Little Roy. Included are also tunes from little known artists such as Ghetto Connection and Kenty Spence & His Stars. The set offers by no means versions of reggae hits. Many songs are unknown gems performed by singers and players far away from the reggae mainstream.

The Expanders shines throughout the set with their pristine three-part harmonies, organic sonic landscape and no-frills arrangements with musicians providing the bare essentials – bass, organ, drums and guitar.

And this album is not about nostalgia. The Expanders put their signature mark on every track with vintage vibes and a vocal style reminiscent of reggae from the late 60s. This is an album curated with love and affection and it showcases timeless music through spirituality, social commentary and affairs of the heart.

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