Tag Archives: Reggae Sound

A perfect fit for Earl Sixteen

You can’t go wrong with a showcase album. And certainly not if the production is handled by Not Easy At All and Earl Sixteen is responsible for the vocal duties.

The collaboration between the JahSolidRock label and production crew Not Easy At All has certainlyborn some sweet tasting fruit. First the Chezidek album and then the full length set from Apple Gabriel. Both praised by critics.

Now these Dutch fellows drop another scorcher – The Fittest from foundation artist Earl Sixteen, responsible for the wicked, and recently re-issued, album Reggae Sound and several timeless tunes.

The Fittest does not resemble the hardcore riddims and production style courtesy of the late Mikey Dread. The sound on The Fittest is airy, relaxed and smooth with great live instrumentation.

It contains 10 tunes, each followed by its dub version, or, as in one case, by its U Roy deejay cut.

Hardcore followers of JahSolidRock and Not Easy At All will notice some familiar riddims. Changing Times utilizes the backing from Chezidek’s Live and Learn and Rise Up is based on Gifted Ones by Apple Gabriel.

A bunch of the riddims are new, and I literally get the chills each time I hear Modern Slavery. Clavinet, saxophone and a pulsating riddim similar to early 80’s Sly & Robbie. Earl Sixteen’s pleading voice and the moaning saxophones are intertwined in a perfect combination. An excellent mix of hopelessness and joy.

Modern Slavery is also a good example of Earl Sixteen’s conscious lyrics that concerns issues such as the situation in Africa, slackness, child labor and trafficking. He sings “there are more slaves today, than there were four centuries away…trafficking drugs just to survive” and calls repeatedly for a solution.

This is the third stunning album released by JahSolidRock and Not Easy At All. I have a feeling there is more to come, even though it will be a tough task to outshine any of these three releases.

The Fittest reaches the street on May 26th.

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Great reggae sounds from Earl Sixteen

About a month ago I had the opportunity to interview Earl Sixteen on his upcoming album Fittest of the Fittest. That effort is hopefully just as good as the Mikey Dread-produced album Reggae Sound, an album originally put out in 1981.

This long lost gem has now been reissued. And the label has put eight bonus dub cuts on the CD version, which is a real delight since the mixing – courtesy of Mervyn Williams, Mikey Dread and Scientist – is wicked and wild.

Earl Sixteen has recorded since the mid 70’s and he has worked with some of the greatest Jamaican producers, ranging from Joe Gibbs and Lee Perry to Coxsone Dodd and Augustus Pablo.

But this album showcases Earl Sixteen and Mikey Dread in their prime. The riddims are rougher than rough and the sound quality is excellent, most likely because the repress is made from the original master tapes.

The original ten tracks made this a great record and with the additional eight tracks it should belong in every record collection. Early dancehall doesn’t get any better than this original reggae sounds.

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