To commemorate 25 years since the founding of Penthouse recording studio, VP Records and producer Donovan Germain – founder and owner of Penthouse Records and Penthouse studio – have collaborated on a new release titled Penthouse Records 25 Years – The Journey Continues.
It holds almost three hours of music and comes with three discs, of which one is a one hour and 45 minute DVD featuring many of the key players in Jamaican music, including original Penthouse crew members Tony Rebel, Richie Stephens, Wayne Wonder, Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond and, of course, Donovan Germain himself.
Donovan Germain has been in the music industry for well over three decades. Some of his earliest productions are rootsy albums from Cultural Roots and The Mighty Diamonds. These sets were however put out before he founded Penthouse Records and thus not included on this compilation. A bit unfortunate, since the material is strong and has a different vibe compared to the music issued on Penthouse Records.
Penthouse Records and Penthouse studio have over the years produced several smash hits, especially during the late 80s and 1990s, and both the label and the studio have continued to churn out chart-topping anthems in recent years.
The album highlights essential hits and fresh tracks from Penthouse Records’ current roster of artists as well as two unreleased cuts from the late Garnett Silk – My Favorite Song and a remix of Everything I Got.
The sounds on this hefty compilation are usually smooth, melodic and easy-going and ranges from dancehall and lovers rock to one drop with a rootsy flavor. It can be upbeat and energetic, but never aggressive and hostile. Donovan Germain certainly has a way with melodies.
There are plenty of favorites, and a few a little less attractive cuts, particurlarly those with a tad too much honey.
I immediately fell in love with Chaka Demus’ Chaka On the Move, where dancehall meets gospel. Love Mi Haffi Get from Beres Hammond, El Shaddai by the criminally under-recorded Jahmali and Brickwall from Richie Stephens and Dennis Brown are also solid to say the least.
But do not forget the more contemporary crop of artists included on the set. Queen Ifria’s Lioness on the Rise, Busy Signal’s Comfort Zone and D Major’s Real Know Real are all standout cuts. So is Dean Fraser’s charming sax version of Buju Banton’s sweet Untold Stories. He’s certainly not new in the game though.
Donovan Germain has played an instrumental part in developing the careers of several world-renowned reggae stars, including Buju Banton, Wayne Wonder, Cutty Ranks and Beres Hammond and in more recent times Romain Virgo and Queen Ifrica.
His feel for quality and talent is admirable and being able to stay on top of the game for more than three decades is certainly a huge achievement.