Tag Archives: Pressure Sounds

Stellar compilation presents Jimmy Riley at his best

366If you are in a hurry and need to know about Jimmy Riley’s Live It To Know It, five words – get it, it is essential. I you want the story you can continue.

Jimmy Riley – father of acclaimed contemporary reggae singer Tarrus Riley – started his career in the mid-60 as part of rocksteady vocal harmony group The Sensations, an outfit that also included sublime falsetto singer Cornel Campbell. After a while he left that group and formed The Uniques with another renowned falsetto singer – Slim Smith.

After several hit singles with The Uniques, including My Conversation, one of the best rocksteady cuts ever recorded, he went solo and started recording with the likes of Lee Perry, Bunny Lee and Sly & Robbie, with whom he recorded easy-skanking solo hits like Love and Devotion and Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, a song that topped reggae charts in 1983.

On UK reissue label Pressure Sounds’ 87th release they have focused on Jimmy Riley, but not his most well-known cuts. No, Live It To Know It collects self-produced material recorded approximately between 1975 and 1984. And this is message music. It’s roots music with sparse arrangements and minor chords, and Jimmy Riley sings about immigration, poverty, struggles, equality and justice.

Live It To Know It contains 17 songs and is long overdue. Jimmy Riley is one of many often overlooked Jamaican singers. He has a stellar tenor voice with a bit of grittiness to it. It’s emotive, pleading and heartfelt. He’s a bona-fide soul singer.

This album has everything a great reissue should have – excellent music, discomixes, devastating dub versions, good audio quality, scarce material and vivid liner notes. It collects nothing but the best and it captures Jimmy Riley at his finest.

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A reggae favourite reissued on Pressure Sounds

Layout 1 (Page 1)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.

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Bunny Lee’s early reggae period showcased on new compilation

Layout 1 (Page 8)What if I’d tell you there’s a new Bunny Lee compilation out. You would probably say something like “Whaaat, hasn’t his stuff been recycled enough already!?”. That’s a fair point.

But, what if I’d tell you that this new compilation titled Full Up is actually different than most recently released albums bearing Bunny Lee’s name and credentials.

Bunny Lee has been in the music business since the 60s and his productions has been compiled many, many times before. Sometimes the same tunes as always but with a new packaging. And that’s no surprise since he has for many years now been one of the cornerstones of Jamaican reggae business.

On the Pressure Sounds’ 85th release they have collected a set of tunes that reflect Bunny Lee’s post rocksteady productions and pre roots era. The four years from 1968 to 1972 were productive and fruitful and consolidated his reputation as one of Jamaica’s premier producers.

Full Up offers a fine selection of  swinging instrumentals mixed with some early vocal productions and a few overlooked vocal gems from singers, deejays soloists and bands like Bunny Lee All Stars, Dave Barker, Delroy Wilson, Tommy McCook, Joe White, Stranger Cole, U Roy, Pat Kelly and The Hippy Boys. And several of the cuts come in different shapes and colours, something that give the album a nice bit of variety.

Bunny Lee is a musical hitmaker from Jamaica and on this album he showcases 21 tracks, of which many are taken from the original master tapes, so the audio quality is solid throughout. Included is also excellent liner notes from Diggory Kendrick describing Bunny Lee and his modus operandi.

Today when the reissue market is flooded with mysterious reissues, often of material from Lee Perry and Bunny Lee, it’s easy to dismiss them. But don’t make that mistake with Full Up. This album is excellent all the way. As always with Pressure Sounds one might add.

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Rough and raw from Yabby You

yabby-youI was very excited when I realized that Pressure Sounds was about to drop a new Yabby You album, a set following his Deeper Roots released in 2012.

Deeper Roots Part 2 takes up the mantle of exploring the late Yabby You’s extensive back catalogue and is packed with previously unreleased mixes of one of Jamaica’s most unique producers.

He started his musical career in the early 1970s just as a new wave of Jamaican artists and producers were starting to dominate the local music scene. And from the very beginning his music stood outside of the mainstream of reggae music.

This 16 track compilation – with audio quality sometimes a bit below par since some tracks were sourced from vinyl – focuses on the more instrumental and dub infused productions of Yabby You and offers several exclusive mixes. Some of the tracks were given directly to the label by Yabby You, while others have come from exclusive dubplates.

Sipping I & I Chalice comes in two versions and was only ever previously released on 7”. Thirty pieces of Silver has been deconstructed and reduced to a thundering and powerful instrumental. Psalm 16 is another highlight with its ruthless percussion and overall dread mood.

And that mood actually goes for the full album. It has that eerie sound that Yabby You is probably best known for. If that sound is something you like, you should definitely check this set. More than 50 minutes worth of music – most of it exclusive to Pressure Sounds – and sleevenotes by label boss Pete Holdsworth and focus on his own personal experiences of dealing with Yabby You from the mid 90s.

A worthy follow-up and definitely well in line with the first volume.

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Hypnotic and dread from Horace Andy and Phil Pratt

unnamedHorace 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.

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Pressure Sounds reissues rare Horace Andy album

unnamedUK 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.

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Unreleased material on new Lee Perry compilation

PSLP82 Litho AWV3.inddWhen UK reissue label Pressure Sounds announced a new Lee Perry compilation they wrote “we know what you are thinking, another Lee Perry album on Pressure Sounds.” Well, I could not have said it better myself. It was my first thought when I heard about the release.

The majority of the previous seven Lee Perry compilations issued on Pressure Sounds have been very strong, particularly some of the earliest ones. And Roaring Lion – as the latest eight set is titled – is no exception and definately not just another Lee Perry compilation.

The material on the album was mostly recorded or re-mixed in 1976 and it delivers 16 unreleased tracks, of which eleven come from a master tape that has been laying in storage for 30 years. The other five are made up of dub plates and alternate takes of previously released tracks. All in all the set includes no less than five previously unreleased tracks from Jah Lion, Augustus Pablo and The Upsetters.

The audio quality is surprisingly good and you have all of Lee Perry’s trademarks at the Black Ark put on wax – bouncing bass, creative arrangements and a dense and atmospheric soundscape filled with cultural currents and vocal snippets dropping in and out of the swirling mixes.

Fans of Bob Marley will probably be super excited, since the album collects an unreleased dub plate mix of Natural Mystic, one of the man’s most crucial tunes put out on Island Records.

Roaring Lion comes with excellent liner notes from Lee Perry enthusiast Jeremy Collingwood and in tandem with the album release Pressure Sounds has put out three Lee Perry produced 7”, two of which are not on the album.

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Tommy McCook’s legacy lives on

316Reissue giants Pressure Sounds has recently put out another long lost gem – Tommy McCook’s instrumental set Reggae in Jazz, produced by noted producer Winston Riley’s brother Buster Riley and originally issued in scarce quantities on Eve Records back in 1976.

Ace saxophonist and arranger Tommy McCook was one of the original members of The Skatalites and during his long career he was instrumental in shaping the sound of ska, rocksteady and reggae. He supplied crisp horn lines for almost every premier producer in the 60s and 70s and founded The Supersonics as well as being a key member of bands such as The Aggrovators and The Revolutionaries.

On Reggae in Jazz his swinging and funky saxophone takes lead on a number of tracks, not every song though, since a few are organ and melodica lead. And don’t be fooled by the album title. The musical relationship with jazz is vague, or very vague. A more appropriate title would have been Reggae With Funk, since it’s funky to say the least.

The audio quality however leaves quite a lot to be desired, especially Bam Bam and Black Hat. The hi-hat sounds really terrible. Very unfortunate.

This is the second instrumental reggae album reissued by Pressure Sounds this year and hopefully this will start a trend, because instrumental reggae albums hasn’t been reissued to the same extent as, say, dub albums, which is a pity.

Reggae in Jazz comes with sleeve notes by noted reggae write Steve Barrow and is available on LP and CD. The latter carries two bonus tracks by The Mercenaries, one instrumental and one dub.

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The obscure Zion Hill Dub reissued

680After 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.

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Third World All Stars’ Rebel Rock is easy to like

2066For Pressure Sounds’ latest reissue they step into somewhat new territory releasing the Third World All Stars’ instrumental album Rebel Rock, originally put out in the mid to late 70’s on Jamaican expatriate Count Shelly’s Third World label. The Third World All Stars were the house band, hence their name, and usually had a line-up of visiting Jamaican musicians plus local sessioners available.

Rebel Rock collects ten tracks and most of the riddims utilized were originally laid in Jamaica for Errol Dunkley’s album Sit And Cry Over You. This release has however been overdubbed in London adding lots of sweet and breezy horns credited to Rico Rodriguez on trombone, Eddie Thornton on trumpet and Michael Rose, Lester Sterling, Buggis Norman on saxophone.

It’s a commercially brave move to release an unknown instrumental album, even though it’s beautifully arranged, well-played and tight with bright melodies against and smooth and relaxed backdrop.

I celebrate Pressure Sounds for stepping out of the comfort zone and not repeat themselves with yet another Lee Perry dubplate compilation. An unexpected and very welcome release.

Rebel Rock is now available on CD, LP and digital download.

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