Tag Archives: Put the Stereo On

An uplifting album from Gappy Ranks

Gappy-Ranks-Shining-HopeGappy Ranks’ third album Shining Hope is his most pop-oriented yet with lots of catchy choruses, strong melodies, la-la-la’s and auto-tune. It hosts a broad variety of producers from Jamaica, Europe and the U.S., including Macro Marco, Bost & Bim, Kemar McGregor, Royal Order Music and Notice Productions.

Shining Hope doesn’t contain any vintage reggae and rocksteady gems like his debut album Put the Stereo On, nor does it collect any hard-edge dancehall like his second album Thanks & Praise. Shining Hope is rather a contemporary pop album heavily influenced by sweet reggae music.

And just as the album title and the cover sleeve – a photo of his son Japan – suggests, this is a bright, uplifting and personal album. Gappy Ranks sings about seizing the moment, overcoming tough boundaries, relationships and being in love with an ex-girlfriend. It’s bursting with joy and it’s hard to stop smiling when you listen to tracks such as Tomorrow Loves You, Sell Out and the Exco Levi combination Everything Gonna Be Alright, which borrows quite a lot from Bob Marley’s popular Three Little Birds.

With this more pop-oriented approach Gappy Ranks is ready to share his beloved home town of Harlesden, London, to the rest of the world

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Gappy Ranks takes a new direction on Thanks & Praise

If Gappy Ranks’ Peckings-produced debut album Put the Stereo On from last year was a tribute to Studio One and the heydays of reggae music, his latest album – Thanks & Praise – is a completely different story.

Thanks & Praise is contemporary reggae and dancehall produced by eight different producers. It is more in the same vein as the EP Rising Out of the Ghetto released in 2010.

The only tune that sounds like the debut album is One Day at a Time. It is sung over a version of the Small Axe riddim, originally produced by Lee Perry for Bob Marley in the early 70’s.

Put the Stereo On is a great album and was a very promising debut album. It had its problems though, especially the use of auto-tune.

And this is repeated on Thanks & Praise. Auto-tune is present on almost every tune. Sometimes it is used with good effect, but mostly it is just disturbing and irritating.

Despite auto-tune, there is some great music on this radio friendly urban album. The title track, Could a Run Away with Delly Ranx and Tun Up featuring Russian are certainly extremely catchy.

While Put the Stereo On rendered interest among vintage reggae fans, Thanks & Praise will probably appeal to a new crowd. You should definitely check this album out, but listen before you buy.

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Gappy Ranks and Peckings dig deep in the record bins

Put the Stereo On, the debut album from British singer Gappy Ranks, has been preceded by a well orchestrated marketing campaign that started with the mixtape Stinkin’ Rich this winter.

A few months later Gappy Ranks dropped the EP Rising Out of the Ghetto, mainly dancehall based, including the hit tune Stinkin’ Rich.

The new album only bears a slight resemblance to the EP. It’s rather in the style of his hit song Heaven in Her Eyes from 2009, namely classic vintage rhythms with fresh vocals.

Heaven in Her Eyes was produced by Peckings. He’s also behind most of the productions on Put the Stereo On. The few tracks he didn’t produce are in the same vein, which contributes to the album’s homogenous sound.

Gappy Ranks is undoubtedly a talented artist with his own means of expression. His patois-heavy singin/singjay style has something pleasantly desperate about it, especially in the songs with a higher tempo.

Best is duet Soul Rebel with veteran Nereus Joseph, based on Lee Perry’s immortal Soul Rebel rhythm, or Heavy Load, a scorcher produced by Frenchie on the Creation Rebel rhythm originally from Studio One. The version used here is however signed by Bunny Lee.

It’s a real pleasure to note that Peckings has dusted off the great Treasure Isle rhythm I Can’t Hide, originally recorded by the versatile and way too under recorded Ken Parker.

The many great rhythms utilized on Put the Stereo On can hopefully introduce vintage reggae music to a whole new generation, so they can discover all this incredible music they didn’t know existed.

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Gappy Ranks makes music for the world

Britain has an almost equally long reggae history as Jamaica. In the 60’s the artists had names such as Dandy and Laurel Aitken. Since then, the scene has changed and given way to new genres dubstep and grime. But one that keeps the reggae Union Jack high is upcoming star Gappy Ranks, from Harlesden in London.

When I get hold of Gappy Ranks on the telephone he has just finished an interview on national radio. He’s happy and excited. Probably no surprise. His debut album Put the Stereo On hits the streets soon on legendary label Greensleeves and there is much to do, concerts and interviews on each other. Soon he will perform at festivals such as Glastonbury and Rototom Sunsplash.

Gappy Ranks was raised in London by a Jamaican father and a Dominican mother. He says that it was tough growing up, but that he has learned about several different cultures. The debut album is in part about his childhood. More precisely it’s about the togetherness created in front of the turntable at home.

The cover of Put the Stereo On is designed by legendary Greensleeves designer Tony McDermott

− When I was a child and my parents put a record on it was always about togetherness and that is what I want to say with the album and its title, says Gappy Ranks in a blend of patois and British English.

Homage to the past
Put the Stereo On is mainly produced by Peckings, whose trademark is the use of old rock steady and reggae rhythms. The album echoes of the 60’s and early 70’s, without sounding outdated. Bitty McLean’s classic album On Bond Street, also produced by Peckings, showed that it’s an excellent recipe.

− The record shows where I’m from. I want to pay homage to Studio One and the past. It’s easier to understand music if you know the past, he says, and adds:

− I love all type of music and embrace every genre. Music is about creating, learning and trying new stuff.

Favourite rhythms
Choosing favourite rhythms on the album is hard for him. But if he has to choose it’d be one originally recorded by Bob Marley and one which makes him enjoy himself.

− I really like Heaven in Her Eyes on Peckings Rebel riddim and Put the Stereo On, which is on the Hot Milk riddim. Every time I hear those trumpets I enjoy myself.

Put the Stereo On is significantly different from his mainly dancehall sounding EP Rising Out of the Ghetto, released this spring. When I ask him why he returns to the love of music.

− I’m just a music lover and hard to categorize. My singing is inspired by Sanchez and Wayne Wonder, but also Beenie Man. I’m a global person and I’m making music for the world.

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