01 May 2016 · 9:08
Vin Gordon aka Don D Junior – a nickname in honour of legendary Jamaican trombonist Don Drummond – is one of Jamaica’s many musical giants. Just as Don Drummond he’s a bone fide champion on his trombone and started recording at Studio One in the mid-60s. He has played on countless of classics and worked alongside great artists and bands such as The Wailers, Burning Spear, Dennis Brown, The Heptones and Delroy Wilson.
Together with his nine piece band Real Rock he has just put out a brand new album titled after his biggest composition as a solo artist. Together with keyboard ace Jackie Mittoo, Vin Gordon was responsible for both Heavenless and Real Rock, two massive reggae anthems that have been versioned again and again and again.
In addition to two versions of Heavenless and a rendition of Tommy McCook’s rootsy Revenge the album collects four brand new compositions. It’s a beautiful seven track set that is largely instrumental. The set is produced and mixed by the great Nick Manasseh and it’s a warm and organic journey led by gracious horns and supplemented by smattering percussion and roaring bass lines.
The market isn’t flooded by instrumental horn sets these days. It’s a pity as clearly showcased on this masterful album.
28 July 2015 · 9:14
In June 2015 Brother Culture and Nick Manasseh released the excellent showcase album All a We and now it’s time for another rough and tough set from one of UK’s most consistent deejays.
Brother Culture has this time teamed up with Reggae Roast for the seriously weighty EP The Flava. It comes with five deadly tracks, including the anthemic Soundsystem. It kicks off with bouncy 80s vibes on The Flava followed by the uncompromising Bring di Weed with its earth-shaking bass line.
On Same Ol’ Story Brother Culture takes the role of a history lecturer with lyrics like “then World War Two led to Hiroshima when everything in the world get nuclear, the nuclear bomb led to the cold war, the East Germans build the Berlin Wall…” and “the invasion of Kuwait, it was the first Gulf war, Saddam Hussein against Bush Senior, the first Gulf war led to 9/11, when the place came down with flames and destruction, 9/11 led to Afghanistan, America went to wipe out the Taliban, but wars don’t finish, the wars don’t end, it’s the same ol’ story all over again…”.
Reggae Roast has over the past seven years brought forward several earth rocking singles and riddims and this compilation with material recorded with Brother Culture hits hard.
03 July 2015 · 11:57
Veteran UK deejay and sound system mic man Brother Culture has teamed up with producer and mixing engineer Nick Manasseh for his debut album All a We, a hard and pulsating showcase album with twelve excellent tracks.
The album follows the success of last year’s anthemic Sound Killer and on this new album Nick Manasseh unleashes some heavy as lead riddims for Brother Culture to ride upon. It’s socially conscious and spiritually devout.
Brother Culture has for more than 30 years preached his love for Jah while setting sound system dances around the world on fire with his relentless flow. He has collaborated with almost every prominent producer or sound man and has gained unique skills that he and Nick Manasseh have successfully managed put on wax. Highly recommended. Especially the driving Land of Gold and the sincere Selassie Historical.
14 December 2014 · 19:17
UK’s eight piece reggae band King Porter Stomp have teamed up with reggae legend Prince Fatty to create the brand new single Warning. This rolling reggae rocker comes with trademark horns, heavy bass, layered guitar work and lyrics that throw blows of realism and revolution.
King Porter Stomp have for this single also brought Prince Fatty and Nick Manasseh together on the same record for the very first time. Prince Fatty has mixed the two tracks and Nick Manasseh is responsible for the dub version on the flip.
King Porter Stomp embraces a musical diversity and have released a string of singles of which Warning is the third. Each track in the series differs in musical style and Warning is now available vinyl and digital download.
11 October 2014 · 8:33
Energetic and multi-faceted ten piece reggae band onlyjoe from the UK has just released their fourth single Hold Me for free download. It’s a summery and infectious cut with a catchy sing-a-long chorus and comes with a swinging dub version mixed by acclaimed producer and mixing engineer Nick Manasseh.
“We actually recorded the rhythm section and the horns a little while ago, and were looking for an opportunity to work with Manasseh on something, and this track seemed like the obvious choice to take to him, and as we had it finished and there was demand for it we really wanted to give it to people,” explains Harry Bradford, saxophonist in onlyjoe.
The reason for giving the song and its two versions is simple – they wanted to give something to the people who have been supporting them over the last few years. And at the moment they are in the process of recording their debut album, a set with production helmed by forward-thinking bass producer Hylu, who travels with onlyjoe as engineer. He has also produced all their previous singles.
“We’re getting funding from wherever we can at the moment, and while we’re slowing down on gigs getting money through t-shirt sales, and donations on releases is really helping pay for future sessions,” says Harry Bradford.
Onlyjoe aims at releasing the so far untitled album next year, and it will hold a mixture of tracks and sounds.
“People will know the music from our sets as well as some other bits which we have developed behind closed doors, those tracks are a progression of the same sound, while some are more dubwise and some have higher energy. The main focus of onlyjoe has always been making conscious music to move a dance,” says Harry Bradford, and concludes:
“It all fits under the umbrella of reggae music in its many different forms. We definitely want some surprises on the album, and if the studio session a few weeks back is anything to go by it’s looking like there will be some!”
27 July 2014 · 20:11
In the first months of 2013 Jamaican roots veteran Earl 16 and UK producer and mixing engineer Nick Manasseh dropped the excellent showcase album Walls of the City. And the album came with a promise – more is soon to come from the duo.
That soon is now. Gold Dust is a fresh new album from this singer/producer collaboration that has been on and off for more than 20 years, ever since when Nick Manasseh was part of Riz Records.
Gold Dust takes on where Walls of the City left off. It’s a smooth, warm and organic set far from the hard UK steppers that Nick Manasseh produced in the late 80s. It collects several re-cuts and versions along with new material. All beautifully crafted with Earl 16’s delicate and dreamy vocals floating on top of the sometimes partly acoustic backing.
Gold Dust is the first single artist full-length album on Brighton’s Roots Garden Records, a label known for its quality rather than quality. It’s however Earl 16’s second album this year, and it follows the more vintage-sounding Natty Farming. Two outstanding reggae albums, but with completely different styles. Earl 16 has been in the business for 40 years, but still shines.
08 February 2014 · 20:49
Can’t say I knew much about 90s UK label Riz Records until I received a press release from Reggae Archive Records telling the world that they would issue a compilation covering that particular label. I was intrigued since most of the label’s output was produced by studio wizards Nick Manasseh and Gil Cang. Both are still active in the industry but via new labels – Roots Garden and Tuff Scout.
Riz Records was active in the 90s and the productions follow in the footsteps of tough UK digi dubbers like Jah Shaka, Alpha & Omega and Iration Steppas. The sounds coming from Riz were however a bit different. Not as in your face and more ethereal and meditative. More roots, less digital dub.
Rise Up! – The Riz Records Story collects 15 tunes – of which two are previously unreleased – and the selection is flawless with foundation Jamaican artists like Johnny Osbourne, Willie Williams and Earl 16 along with local UK acts such as Danny Red and Bob Skeng.
Among the many highlights are Johnny Osbourne’s haunting Rise Up, Orville Smith’s dark Builder’s Temple and Willie Williams dreamy Saints, a seven minute long tune perfect after a day’s hard work.
All cuts are taken from the original master tapes and the audio quality is impeccable. Not that common when it comes to reissues. Well done.
20 May 2013 · 20:54
A new release from Nick Manasseh is always exciting and highly welcome. He’s one of the most consistent UK producers and now he has worked with Jamaican veteran roots singer Earl 16 on the showcase album Walls of the City. The first in what seems to be a series.
The set collects eight newly recorded tracks that balance live instrumentation and computer generated sounds. Four cuts are vocals and they’re directly followed by an inspired dub version. It includes a new version of the duos 90s classic Zion City, here titled Zion Holy City. It’s a completely new version, and even better than the original.
Walls of the City is excellent throughout, especially the title track with its deep and growling bass line and the uplifting Ease Up with its bright horns. Two very different tracks, but equally tasty.
Hopefully another set is due soon, but until then this album will be getting a lot of spins. Available now on LP and digital platforms.
31 October 2012 · 10:51
Human Nature – the fifth album from the UK’s roots and jazz outfit Soothsayers – has been preceded by a number of glorious tunes, and happily enough the full album manages to live up to, and even exceed, expectations.
Where their previous vocal album One More Reason relied much on acclaimed guest vocalists, such as Michael Prophet and Johnny Clarke, this set is rather based around classic three part vocal harmonies courtesy of trumpeter Robin Hopcraft, saxophonist/clarinetist Idris Rahman and Julia Biel. The harmonies are unpolished and honest, andit fits the production – led by Nick Manasseh and Yesking – beautifully.
Human Nature boasts a myriad of influences on both melodies and arrangements. The backbone is reggae, but it’s spiced with dub, afro-beat, funk, country, pop, jazz, British folk music and soul.
The warm harmony-rich sound was recorded in Prince Fatty’s analogue studio and is filled with alluring melancholy and striking horns, especially on One Day, an irresistible track with a melody aimed to make your eyes wet, and One More Reason, with a horns arrangement that would make Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley of The J.B.’s proud.
Soothsayers also manage to make the much-versioned The Streets of London sound contemporary and fresh. The main ingredients are the gentle bass line, the luring organ, the heartbreaking horns and, of course, the purity of the intertwined voices.
This masterpiece of an album is now available on CD and in digital formats.