Tag Archives: Prince Fatty

Irresistible new album from Soothsayers

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.

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Prince Fatty blends fantasy and reality

Mike Pelanconi, better known as Prince Fatty, is a world-renowned producer and sound engineer from Brighton, UK. He has been praised for his vintage recording techniques and his work with artists such as Hollie Cook and Jamaican roots veteran Little Roy, with who he has recorded reggae renditions of Nirvana songs. He has also tried his hands on other genres as well working with rock and pop musicians such as Lily Allen and Graham Coxon from Blur.

His latest effort is Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler, an album described as a mix of hip hop fantasy and reggae reality. I had a chat with him about his inspirations, the new album and the artists featured on it. Check the full story over at United Reggae.

Prince Fatty artwork being painted in Brighton.

Prince Fatty artwork being painted in Brighton.

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Boisterous, organic and energetic from Prince Fatty and friends

On acclaimed sound engineer and producer Prince Fatty’s third album – the weirdly titled Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler – there’s a hell of a party going on from start to finish. To the party he has invited guests Hollie Cooke, Horseman, George Dekker, Dennis Alcapone and Winston Francis to handle microphone duties.

The ten tracks are heavily influenced by reggae from the late 60’s and early 70’s and offer a mix of originals and fun and dazzling cover choices, including the excellent For Me You Are, a version of The Andrew Sisters’ Bei Mir Bist du Schon, Got Your Money, originally by the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Kelis, and Max Romeo’s rude and lewd Wet Dream.

To spice things up further Prince Fatty utilizes a dub mixing style with lots of effects as well as  wild and crazy samples from different movies.

This 30 minutes long disc is fun and clever, and you’ll continue to be amazed and surprised by the arrangements and the live played backing even after several spins.

Prince Fatty has with his previous albums and productions set a high standard, and happily enough he manage to both live up to and excel expectations.

Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler is now available on LP and CD from Mr. Bongo Records.

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The Skints follow a long and proud tradition

Reggae and ska have influenced punk rock since the 70’s. And one of the earliest and most well-known examples is The Clash and their collaboration with Mikey Dread as well as their cover of Junior Murvin’s mighty Police & Thieves. Since then the genres have been in a love relationship that has rendered lots of great music.

The UK’s The Skints follow in this fine tradition, and it was manifested on their debut album Live.Breathe. Build. Believe., which was more or less a punk rock album influenced by ska and reggae.

On their recently released follow-up Part & Parcel they’ve used the same ingredients, but shifted the measures in favor of more ska and reggae and less punk rock.

Part & Parcel was produced by Prince Fatty – responsible for Hollie Cook’s highly acclaimed self-titled debut album released last year – and together with the band they’ve created a vital album jam-packed with furious energy and playfulness.

But it also boasts deep bass lines, smooth skanking vibes and sweet pop melodies courtesy of three lead singers – each with his and hers very distinctive style – taking turn on the microphone.

Probably not an album that will appeal to the purist or traditionalist, but well-worth checking out for those tired of rasta preachings or one drop beats.

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A scarily tasty dub album from Hollie Cook

One of last year’s many musical highlights was Hollie Cook’s truly enjoyable self-titled debut album recorded under the tutelage and supervision of the mighty Mike Pelanconi aka Prince Fatty, a British producer and engineer specialized in old school recording techniques.

Prince Fatty has now dubbed her debut album to the bone with extra bass and echo-laid instrumentation and Hollie Cook’s enchanting and dreamy vocals floating in and out of the mix.

Prince Fatty Presents Hollie Cook in Dub has a slightly different track listing compared to the original album and adds fascinating versions of swing harmony singing group The Andrew Sisters’ Bei Mir Bist du Schon [For Me You Are Dub] and The Whispers’ funky disco hit And the Beat Goes On along with her own already made classics Milk & Honey and That Very Night.

The dub versions of the tracks highlight some of the instrumentation that was in the background on the original vocal versions. You are hit by pounding percussion, smooth organ work, fine-tuned melodica and beautiful horn arrangements.

Prince Fatty has yet again managed to put out another scorcher, and even though this album is made with vintage recording and mixing equipment and techniques its ideas and influences are very much forward-thinking.

Prince Fatty Presents Hollie Cook in Dub is available on CD, LP and digital download. Go get yourself a copy now.

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A soundtrack to a movie I’d like to see

Producer and engineer Prince Fatty has together with Mutant Hifi a stew cooking. The ingredients are a vicious blend of raw surf rock, intensive ska and cool western sounds.

As explained by the label Mr. Bongo – imagine surf rock pioneer Dick Dale jamming with the Skatalites under Ennio Morricone’s supervision.

On Return of the Gringo the tempo is high throughout. And as usual in surf rock the electric guitar is usually playing the main melody. It’s accompanied by grim horns and strings.

Included are some highly creative slices of musical magic. Listen to the The Good, The Vlad and The Ugly. It’s a ska take on the traditional Russian folk song Korobeiniki, also known as the Tetris song. Or Hava Nagila, a classic Hebrew folk song, with some serious guitar solos.

Return of the Gringo has according to the press material been cooking for some years and is said to be a surf/ska/spaghetti western soundtrack for a motion picture that is yet to be filmed. I’d suggest the producers of this album to pick up the phone and give Quentin Tarantino or Danny Boyle a call. They probably have script up their sleeves that would be a perfect match.

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Little Roy wins the battle for Seattle

Making a concept cover album is not new in reggae music, and that it can be successful is proven by Easy Star All-Stars and their albums Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band and Radiodread.

Now there is a new cover concept project. But this time commanded by Prince Fatty, the man responsible for Hollie Cook’s recent self-titled scorcher.

Battle for Seattle is a collection of ten songs originally recorded by Nirvana now performed in a reggae style.

Prince Fatty has assembled some veteran soldiers for the project. Legendary Little Roy takes the lead on the microphone singing better than ever. He’s backed by Mafia, from Mafia & Fluxy, Bubblers, from the Ruff Cut band, Junior Marvin, prior with The Wailers, and George Dekker from The Pioneers.

They fight in an old-fashioned style armed with tape and vintage analog equipment. The result is authentic reggae that echoes from the 70’s.

To win the battle for Seattle they have taken on some of Nirvana’s biggest hits, but also some lesser known tunes such as Very Ape from the In Utero album. Most people will recognize Come as You Are, Heart-Shaped Box and Lithium, even though these versions are far from the originals. The melodies are clearer and so is the singing and lyrics.

 I’ve never been a fan of neither Nirvana nor grunge, but this album has been on repeat for several days now. Little Roy and Prince Fatty have definitely conquered Seattle and hopefully fans of Nirvana will join their army too.

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Beautiful debut album from Hollie Cook

British singer Hollie Cook has music in her blood. She is the daughter of Paul Cook, former drummer in legendary punk band Sex Pistols.

But luckily enough her musical path has headed in a different direction, and has lead her into the arms of Mike Pelanconi, aka Prince Fatty, a talented producer and engineer as well as an expert in vintage recording techniques.

Hollie Cook has contributed on both Prince Fatty albums. And her contribution has been welcome, very welcome indeed. Her tracks Milk & Honey, from Survival of the Fattest put out in 2007, and That Very Night in Dub, from Supersize Me released last year, were among the standout tracks.

Her self-titled debut album bears all of Prince Fatty’s best ingredients – old school sounding reggae and dub without sounding traditional or boring. Check Sugar Water, a smart cut of Scientist’s Dangerous Match 1, a dub version of Johnny Osbourne’s Love is Universal.

The first single of the album That Very Night captures the feeling nicely – pulsating, dark and a bit psychedelic. Her British voice is delicate, breezy and creates an intimate atmosphere.

The album is also hosted by some well-known musicians, most notably George Dekker of The Pioneers and Dennis Bovell. The most prominent guest is however Horseman, a deejay with a style reminiscent of the great Lone Ranger.

This is certainly a truly enjoyable experience from start to finish.

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Little Roy reinvents himself on Heat

The roots reggae era in the 70’s showed a great number of talents. A bunch of these were picked up by major labels such as Virgin. But the majority of these fine performers went unnoticed outside of Jamaica.

Some of these talents have been rediscovered in the 90’s and in the last couple of years thanks to fine reissue labels such as Blood and Fire, Pressure Sounds and Makasound. There has for example been excellent compilations from the likes of Rod Taylor, Sylford Walker and Prince Alla.

Another one is Little Roy. He started his career in the mid 60’s at Studio One. A few years later he recorded the smashing organ fuelled Bongo Nyah for Lloyd “Matador” Daley.

In the 70’s Little Roy started to produce himself and recorded several excellent tunes that were hard to find up until Pressure Sounds released the superb compilations Tafari Earth Uprising and Packin’ House. These two albums showcase an extraordinary talent whose rough, emotive delivery and insightful lyrics draws Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Joe Higgs to mind.

Little Roy hasn’t been the most productive reggae artist. He was largely anonymous in the 80’s and recorded sparsely in the 90’s. In 2005 he dropped his latest album Children of the Most High, an album that contained re-recorded version of his previous output. He has also worked with producer and engineer Mike Pelanconi for the Prince Fatty project.

His new album Heat, that hit the streets Friday March 18, is in the same vein and contains 12 tunes, where of eleven are reworkings.

He is again backed by an all star line-up – Mafia & Fluxy provide the riddims and the harmonies are courtesy of Winston Francis, AJ Franklin and ex-Pioneer George Dekker.

Heat is an overall nice effort, especially the title track and Jah Can Count On I, a tune that Freddie McGregor versioned on his self titled album. It’s a mystery though why Tribal War isn’t re-recorded. This roots classic has been versioned several times, recently by Nas & Damian Marley for the wicked Tribes at War.

Hopefully Heat can draw attention to Little Roy’s original material so that he can get the credit he deserves.

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Supernice from Prince Fatty

Prince Fatty may sound like a cartoon character. But don’t let the name fool you. Behind this band are vintage reggae champions such as Winston Francis, Dennis Alcapone and Little Roy. The mastermind behind the project is Mike Pelanconi, an engineer and producer from the UK, who has previously worked with a wide range of artists including the late Gregory Isaacs and Lily Allen.

He is labeled as an expert in vintage recording techniques, and when I listen to the sophomore album from Prince Fatty it’s easy to understand why he has earned that title.

The brand new album Supersize echoes from the past, mainly from the early 70’s. It contains covers, re-workings and own material. Almost all tunes have a great vibrant dub vibe.  Just check Bedroom Eyes where singer Natty is echoing in and out.

Another thing well worth pointing out is the organic feel throughout the album. The organ work is superb. Listen to The Impressions cover Ain’t Got Time. It’s almost as if Winston Wright or Jackie Mittoo were hosting the session.

The music on Supersize is for real. No samples, no auto-tune, just plain fun.

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