Tag Archives: Reggae covers

Only covers on Mr. Vegas’ new album

Mr-Vegas-Lovers-Rock-Soul-album-cover-300x300Versatile dancehall star Mr. Vegas has broadened his portfolio in recent years – from hardcore dancehall via foundation reggae to slick lovers rock. It started in 2010 with the massive reggae anthem Sweet Jamaica, which was later followed by a double album by the same name.

That double disc was Mr. Vegas’ first shot at recording classic reggae and he did it very well. It was well-received and boasted several covers of non-reggae tracks. And Mr. Vegas obviously got a taste for recording covers. Because now he has a new album with only cover songs of which a majority are non-reggae originals. They are rather pop and R&B evergreens.

Most of the songs picked for Lovers Rock and Soul have been covered countless times before, including Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply, Wet Wet Wet’s Love is All Around, Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and former Boyzone member Ronan Keating’s When You Say Nothing At All.

The album offers just what its title suggests – songs about romance, relationships and love. Unfortunately the album is just a bit too smooth and too slick. The cuts are ordinary hotel lounge covers with a reggae beat and nothing to get particularly excited about.

Mr. Vegas is a gifted singer and a talented artist and he can do way better than this. That was shown on the Sweet Jamaica album.

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A fine set of funky covers from Taggy Matcher and friends

stix040lp-front-300x300Following several strong singles and cuts on compilations French producer Bruno “Patchworks” Hovart, today probably best known as Taggy Matcher, has finally dropped his debut album Singasong.

Taggy Matcher is a bass player and a guitarist and is an ace when it comes to contemporary groove-oriented music and has successfully merged raw disco and soul with jazz, hip-hop and reggae. He has for example produced a number of fine slices of innovative hip-hop/reggae mash-ups.

The organic Singasong collects eleven tracks and Taggy Matcher continues his long-standing love of recording covers and this set contains versions of tracks by the likes of The Black Keys, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Black Sabbath and Rihanna.

The songs are funky with a discofied twist and the sound is somewhat familiar what Prince Fatty created on Hollie Cook’s excellent second album Twice.

Singer Birdy Nixon takes on Black Sabbath’s crowd-pleaser Paranoid, and does it very well, and LMK does wonders to Rihanna’s No Love Allowed, probably the best cut on the album, complete with emotive horns and pulsating organ.

Definitely a scorcher to be filed next to your worn out copy of Twice.

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Cool and colourful disco reggae on new compilation

STIX037LP-FRONT-300x300After last year’s release of Disco Reggae Vol. 1 comes the second edition titled – yes, you guessed it – Disco Reggae Vol. 2. And this new set offers more of the same successful recipe – reggae with a funky disco twist. Sometimes it sounds like a reggaefied version of Daft Punk.

This nine track compilation includes eight new and exclusive cuts from producers like Taggy Matcher, 7 Samuraï, John Milk and Mato. From Grandmagneto comes an already available version of Gloria Jones’ northern soul classic Tainted Love, covered successfully by UK synthpop duo Soft Cell in the early 80s.

All tracks are reggae refixes. Some are versions of smash hit songs, while others are renditions of lesser known tracks. The former includes swaying versions of Herbie Hancock’s jazz instrumental Watermelon Man and Pharrell Williams’ uplifting Happy.

The latter comprises The Joubert Singers gospel-fused funk tune Stand On the Word, this version comes with a dubby electro twist, and Lee McDonald’s soul banger I’ll Do Anything For You, and Mato’s version lies close to the floor-filling original.

This album is definitely not disco, but it’s not straight reggae either. It’s a selection of dance floor anthems carefully crafted with a new vision. The result is a rocking and swinging album with a cool edge.

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Instrumental niceness on Jaime Hinckson’s debut album

a0794770146_10Was recently recommended to have a listen to U.S. reggae/jazz piano maestro Jaime Hinckson’s instrumental debut album Take Flight, released late last year. And it was certainly a pleasure to my ears.

Jaime Hinckson was introduced to classical piano at the age of seven through his piano teacher Miss Mac, referred to as an angel in disguise on his website. She later introduced him to Leslie Butler, a piano wiz that helped him to bridge the gap between classical music and contemporary jazz. Born in Miami to Jamaican parents, reggae was in his blood.

On Take Flight he cleverly covers old classics such as Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain, Ken Boothe’s Moving Away, Michael Jackson’s Human Nature and The Maytal’s 54-46 Was My Number, but also more contemporary hit songs like John Legend’s Ordinary People and Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man.

The piano-driven and airy music is sparsely arranged with only drums, bass and guitar. A number of tracks however also include horns. The piano does most of the talking and drives the melody forward. It’s as much a jazz album as it’s a reggae album and today you don’t come across that mix often enough. Definately well worth checking out. Visit Jaime Hinckson’s website for a free listen to all of the tracks.

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Old favourites get a discofied reggae twist

imagesFrench producer Taggy Matcher is, along with Bost & Bim, Jstar and Jr Blender, one of my favorite remixers when it comes to mashing hip-hop, soul and funk with reggae, sometimes as mash-ups, sometimes as straight cover versions.

Stix Records has now collected a few of Taggy Matchers productions on a great vintage-styled album, a set that looks and sounds like it was made in the 70s. Disco Reggae collects nine tracks from Taggy Matcher, The Dynamics, Blundetto, Grandmagneto, 7 Samurai and John Milk. These artists all share a love for working in the best spirit of 70s funky reggae.

The set features classic tunes by the likes of Herbie Hancock, The Commodores, The Sugarhill Gang, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Curtis Mayfield, The O’Jays and Harry Nilsson. All served up as dub-infused numbers with lots of discofied funky elements.

Disco Reggae is certainly reggae with a twist. The versions are innovative and creative, but it’s hard, probably impossible, to make a song like Move On Up even better than the original.

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Michael Goldwasser of Easy Star All-Stars about Thriller

One of the most successful reggae bands in recent years is Easy Star All-Stars from the U.S. They’ve made themselves an own niche recording reggae re-interpretations of classic rock albums.

The latest reggae do-over is however not a rock album. Instead they’ve taken on the most sold album of all time – Michael Jackson’s pop and R&B masterpiece Thriller, a set that includes smash hits such as Beat It, Billie Jean and the title track.

One of the musical minds behind Easy Star All-Stars is Michael Goldwasser, the son of a rabbi and a graduate from Columbia University. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him about the new album and what drives him. Check the full story over at United Reggae.

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Bushman is the Bush Doctor

Tribute albums are not particularly common in reggae music. And I am not that fond the idea either. It is often hard to make justice to the original versions. But sometimes you get surprised. The new album from BushmanBushman Sings the Bush Doctor: A Tribute to Peter Tosh – is one such.

The late Peter Tosh was part of the original Wailers in the 60’s and early 70’s. But he and Bunny Wailer left and started their own solo careers. Peter Tosh had done some recording on his own prior to his demise from the group, for example Them A Fe Get A Beatin’ and Maga Dog for producer Joe Gibbs. He had also proven himself to be a great lyricist and songwriter in the Wailers.

I have always thought that Peter Tosh has been put in shadow compared to Bob Marley – of course – and Bunny Wailer. His first two albums Legalize It and Equal Rights are downright excellent.

Therefore I think that Bushman has chosen a great artist to pay tribute to. And he does it very well. Bushman’s deep, sometimes nicely nonchalant, tenor voice suits Tosh’s militant compositions very well. Bushman is not as rugged as Tosh, but it is compensated by sincerity and soulfulness.

Bushman Sings the Bush Doctor: A Tribute to Peter Tosh is mainly produced by Donovan Germain, always a safe card for great production. And this album is no exception. The production is warm and modern, but still close to the original versions. Maybe because some foundation musicians are involved.

Bushman has chosen 15 compositions for this album, mainly taken from Tosh’s’ albums in the 70’s. Some are expected, like classics Legalize It and Downpresser Man, while other choices are more surprising.

The bubbling disco groove in Buk-In-Hamm Palace is one of Tosh’s more accessible moments and Bushman’s version just toughens the bass line a bit. On the soul drenched and upbeat Don’t Look Back, originally performed by The Temptations, Bushman has invited Tarrus Riley, instead of Mick Jagger as Tosh did. Luckily enough the 80’s sounding sax solo is still with us.

Even though the track list is exquisite I miss tunes such as Burial and I am the Toughest, another of Tosh’s signature tunes.

This is surely a great album and an impressive tribute to one of the many greats of reggae music.

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