Earlier this year reissue giants Pressure Sounds released the much sought after dub album The War is On – Dub Style, a set produced by Phil Pratt, recorded in Jamaica and mixed at Easy Street Studios in London by rock man Stuart Breed.
The original album was released sometime in the mid to late 70s and included eight tracks. The vinyl edition comes only with those cuts, but the CD is expanded by another four songs, all presented in extended versions.
And the real gem on this release is actually one of the bonus tracks – Owen Grey’s haunting Hear We Them A Say. The dub version – Dancing Kid – is included on the vinyl release, and luckily Owen Grey’s vocal is also released as a separate 12”.
The War is On is an ambient journey and the first four tracks comes with a prominent melodica played skilfully by keys man Bobby Kalphat. Then there is the lingering piano on the slow and meditative The Good The Bad and The Brave.
A superb album that is finally available again.
Band names in reggae history. That could easily be an interesting chapter in any thorough book about the reggae scene. The Aggrovators, The Revolutionaries, Roots Radics, Soul Syndicate are a handful of creative ones.
You also have Skin, Flesh & Bones. And their scarce Dub in Blood aka The Best Dub Album in the World from the mid-70s is the first release of 2016 on Pressure Sounds. It’s produced by Phil Pratt, recorded at Channel One and mixed by Ernest Hoo Kim and Ossie Hibbert and collects dub to vocal cuts by Al Campbell and Earl George aka George Faith.
It comes with the original ten cuts adding two bonus tracks to the LP version and another two on the CD edition. One of the bonus cuts is a dub of Al Campbell’s eerie Natty Band Wagon recorded at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio.
Dub in Blood is naked and not loaded with studio wizardry. The tough riddims speak for themselves. And it’s definitely a solid and strong album, but naming it The Best Dub Album in the World might be exaggerating it a bit.
The latest reissue on Pressure Sounds is a classic nine track roots set by The Inturns. Consider Yourself aka Detour was produced by Phil Pratt and originally released on the Chanan-Jah label in 1978. Another version followed the year after, and that album was titled Detour and issued on Burning Rockers.
The Inturns started as The Viceroys in the 60s, but also recorded under the name Truth Fact And Correct. The Viceroys was originally a vocal harmony trio led by Wesley Tingling, who learned harmony singing in Trenchtown from the great Joe Higgs, a singer that also tutored Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.
The Viceroys recorded for several different producers, including Duke Reid, Derrick Morgan, Lee Perry and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, for whom they cut the catchy Ya Ho, a track included on Consider Yourself and recorded in several different versions over the years.
In the 70s The Viceroys split up and Wesley Tinglin regrouped as The Inturns together with his neighbour and workmate Neville Ingram. Now a duo they began working with Phil Pratt on the excellent Consider Yourself album.
The original version of this album comes with nine tracks, but Pressure Sounds has added two bonus 12” mixes on the CD release. The sound is crisp and the set includes love songs and more culture oriented material. Wesley Tinglin’s dynamic songwriting works very well with Neville Ingram’s pleading vocals. And riddims provided by drummers Sly Dunbar and Noel Donlan along with bass giant Robbie Shakespeare are flawless.
Sure, the harmonizing is at times a bit off-key, and the lead vocals can be a bit raw, but that’s also the charm of it. This is one of my favourite roots albums from the 70s and it’s great to see it easily available again.
Horace Andy has one of the most distinct and expressive voices in reggae and his vibrato is instantly recognizable. And his singing is very much in focus on the Phil Pratt-produced album Get Wise, recently reissued by Pressure Sounds on CD and LP.
This hypnotic set collects 16 tracks – 14 on the vinyl edition – of the highest calibre. The mood is dark and dread and the arrangements are sparse, often with only the bare essentials – guitar, bass and drums. Others also include piano, organ, horns and harmony by acclaimed singers such as Keith Poppin, Al Campbell, Jimmy London and Phil Pratt himself.
Phil Pratt and Horace Andy first worked together in the mid 60s, but this set was recorded between 1972 and 1974 and then only released in Jamaica in 1975. It is built around a series of 7”, but sounds remarkably consistent and certainly has a high level of continuity in its production.
Apart from strong vocal cuts – including versions of Zion Gate and Youths of Today – from the passionate and emotional Horace Andy, the set also features instrumentals from Phil Pratt Allstars and some wicked deejaying from Jah Stitch.
Pressure Sounds has yet again manage to find another rare and excellent gem that has been unavailable for almost 40 years.
UK premier reissue label Pressure Sounds definitely seems to have a well-functioning relationship with Jamaican producer Phil Pratt. The label has previously released a number of hard to find tunes and albums from this great producer and now yet another album is set to arrive.
Horace Andy and Phil Pratt met in the 60s and their first tune together was Black Man’s Country, issued on the Caltone label. In the mid 70s they worked together again, and this time it was for the Get Wise album, a set to be released on Pressure Sounds on March 31 on LP and CD.
It was originally only released in Jamaica and the reissue will carry six bonus tracks for the CD and four for the vinyl version. It also comes with the original artwork sleevenotes and has been fully re-mastered from the original vinyl.
After an excursion into easy-listening reggae UK reissue label Pressure Sounds is back in the comfort zone with an obscure and difficult release.
Zion Hill Dub by keyboardist and melodica player Bobby Kalphat and producer Phil Pratt has never had a full release until now and the original has only been available as a white label. Rare as hen’s teeth in other words.
The reissue comes with the original ten tracks that collected a series of Bobby Kalphat’s 7” and adding another seven bonus songs. All recorded at either Channel One, Dynamic, Randy’s or Lee Perry’s Black Ark in the mid 70’s.
It balances dub versions with pumping melodica and scorching keyboard lead instrumentals. A number of the originals are familiar, such as the Heptones’ Party Time, John Holt’s Strange Things, Horace Andy’s Money, Money, Dennis Brown’s What About the Half and Ken Boothe’s Artibella.
Bobby Kalphat is probably best known for his work with Phil Pratt, but prior to their relationship he played with Bobby Aitken’s Carib-Beats, Lynn Taitt & The Jets and Tommy McCook & The Supersonics. According to the excellent liner notes by Steve Barker, Bobby Kalphat also claims he started to arrange tunes with melodica as a lead instrument prior to Augustus Pablo’s big hit Java in 1971.
Since Zion Hill Dub was not properly released back in 1977 it didn’t have cover sleeve and this gave Pressure Sounds design agency free hands to complete a new one. I’m no graphic designer, but the sleeve is kind of odd and looks like a soft drink ad. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t say anything about the moody, introvert and simmering music.
Zion Hill is now available on CD, double LP and digital download.
UK reissue label Pressure Sounds has started the year in an old school vintage reggae style. First it was a compilation with early reggae scorchers produced by Lee Perry. Now the label has reissued a second collection of tunes from Blondel Keith Calneck, aka Ken Lack, and his group of labels, including Shock, Jontom and Caltone.
Listen to the Music: Caltone’s Jamaican 45’s 1966-69 collects 21 tunes covering frantic ska, up-tempo early reggae and elegant, classy rocksteady. A few straight forward R&B and Sam Cooke influenced tunes from The Uniques are also included.
Ken Lack was a business man with a keen interest in music and is not one of the more well-known producers in the history of reggae music, but thanks to the Pressure Sounds compilation Safe Travel – released in 2005 – he has received some very well-deserved attention.
Bunny Lee and Phil Pratt handled most of the hands-on production on his recordings with input from Trinibagoan guitarist Lynn Taitt, saxophonist Tommy McCook and trumpeter Johnny Moore.
One of the better known singles from the Ken Lack camp is The Heptones’ Gunmen Coming to Town, a tune that borrows its melody from the William Tell Overture.
Ken Lack worked extensively with Tommy McCook, and his saxophone is present on many of the tunes. And the horn arrangements are classy and tasteful throughout the compilation.
Standouts among the vocals cuts are The Claredonians’ – with the extraordinary talent of Peter Austin taking lead – I’m Sorry, Devon & The Tartans’ Making Love and Alva Lewis & Lynn Taitt’s Return Home. The harmonies are excellent and so are the musicianship with outstanding lead guitar and shuffling organ work.
Listen to the Music is currently available on CD, double LP and digital download and includes excellent liner notes courtesy of Pressure Sounds’ founder and director Pete Holdsworth.
London born singer Alpheus has together with talented Spanish producer Roberto Sánchez managed to create one of the better albums I’ve heard in a while.
From Creation consists of sixteen tunes of pure ska and rocksteady magic recorded with live instruments. There are twelve vocal cuts, two instrumentals and two dub versions. Seven of the tracks are relicks of riddims from producer Coxsone Dodd and the more obscure – but just as great – Phil Pratt. The other five are written by the duo themselves.
And interestingly enough the tunes penned by the duo are just as good as the relicks. The haunting Far Away and the stomping We Are Strong could easily have been written in the 60’s.
Alpheus singing is inspired. By the natural way he rides the riddims it certainly seems like he has enjoyed the time in the studio. His powerful tenor is deep, soulful and sometimes dramatic, such as in the minor chord masterpiece From Creation, which is nicely complemented by an intense percussion driven dub version. It’s as if Roberto Sánchez had invited legendary Jamaican percussionist Bongo Herman to the session.
From Creation is obviously created by people who love music. It’s carefully made by the exact blend of heart, mind and soul. A must have in any good record collection.