Devon 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.
Midnight Walkers is the debut album from French sound system Stand High Patrol, an album full of genuine early digital 80’s vibes combined with dubstep, hip-hop and electronic dance music.
The album collects two instrumentals, two semi-instrumentals and nine cuts with vocals provided by the versatile high-voiced Pupa Jim, probably best known for his work with German Jahtari, Danish Maffi and Scottish Mungo’s Hifi. His delivery is in the same vein as flat voiced 80’s champions King Kong, Anthony “Red” Rose, Nitty Gritty and Tenor Saw.
Pupa Jim might at times sound a bit like a comic book character or novelty figure, but he’s an expert in giving a song its own style and he sings, raps and shouts over the sparse, dark, deep, mystic and repetitive beats he’s provided with.
Among the many highlights are the up-tempo Boat People, the electro-styled instrumental title track and the amusing Home Made, probably the first ever attempt to combine reggae and g-funk.
If you enjoy simplistic and head-nodding digital reggae with a contemporary twist, then you should definitely check out this album.
Nitty Gritty had a short career spanning over about six years – from the mid 80’s to his too premature death in 1991. His debut album Turbo Charged was produced by Prince Jammy and put out on Greensleeves in 1986. It included early digital tracks such as Gimme Some a Your Something and Hog in a Minty, on a version of the huge Tempo riddim.
Now the relatively new reissue label Dug Out has found an obscure gem from this flat voiced singer. General Penitentiary is a showcase album with four vocals and four dubs. It was produced by Ibo Millington and mixed by Bunny Tom Tom aka Crucial Bunny and originally released on NYC-based label Black Victory in 1987.
General Penitentiary is contrary to many other tunes by Nitty Gritty only semi-digital and features both live instrumentation and computers. And it is very well executed. The riddims are just as deep and tough as you can expect from players such as Errol Walker and Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson. Just listen to the hardcore monotonous bass line in Tell Me Whata Gwaan and its version Gwann Dub.
Nitty Gritty – and his contemporaries Tenor Saw, King Kong and Anthony “Red” Rose – has a very odd voice that may be tough coping with for a full length album. This album is therefore perfect for a singer such as Nitty Gritty.