Tag Archives: Reggae

Kristine Alicia’s Songs From Zion is a masterpiece

16463263_10154841948010610_438571494219141396_oMy first encounter with Jamaican vocalist Kristine Alicia was two years ago when she was featured on Rorystonelove’s two one riddim compilations Braveheart and Zeen. She was responsible for two of the strongest cuts on those and I was blown away by her strong and confident voice.

Now her new album has been put out and with this set she relaunches her career with a rootsy sound. And the first single off the album is Roll It, a tribute to all reggae DJs who have helped the genre to reach a global audience. Roll It is easy-going with a laid-back atmosphere. The full album shows a different side of Kristine Alice. A more melancholic side.

Songs From Zion is a stunning set. I dare to say that it’s breathtaking from start to finish and I have had it on repeat for several days.

Rorystonelove has created a full-sounding and dub-infused sonic landscape over which Kristine Alicia sings earnest and sincere. It’s intimate and you can feel every syllable on a track like Key Lock, with its call and response chorus and dramatic production.

Other highlights include the pulsating Valley Song, which is a remake of the classic Cuss Cuss riddim, the bombastic Come Home Natty, where she provides a bit of deejaying, the devout My King and the up-tempo and uplifting Follow with its powerful chorus.

Kristine Alicia, who is a trained pianist and has released a gospel- inspired reggae album, is a remarkable singer and together with Rorystonelove she has created a musical masterpiece.

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Superb new album from Meta & The Cornerstones

unnamedSenegal-born – nowadays U.S. resident – Meta Dia and his Cornerstones impressed on their superb second album Ancient Power, released in 2013 and reissued last year with two previously unreleased songs.

Their new album Hira is in the same vein as its predecessor – uplifting, empowering and sweetly skanking roots reggae highly influenced by Bob Marley & The Wailers. Listen to the monumental Addis State of Mind and you’ll get the picture. It has all the right ingredients – a rock-solid bass line, breezy horns and beautiful backing vocals.

Hira is a global effort mixing many genres – including bossa nova, flamenco, jazz and rock – with a backbone of roots reggae. Musicians from all over the world lend their talents to the album, which was recorded, mixed and mastered in the UK, the Netherlands, Jamaica, France and the U.S. Meta Dia produced the album and the great Shane Brown mixed the set together with Bonzai Caruso.

This could have been a non-cohesive effort because of its many influences, but Meta Dia manages to keep the perfect balance between reggae and other influences, just like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh did.

A number of the songs give goosebumps. The Fig And The Olive Tree is one such, Spirit of the Light, Zion Stereo, Bilal and Mind Your Business are four others. The list could actually go on and on.

Essential. And probably even stronger than Ancient Power.

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Spiritual makes traditional and authentic roots reggae

unnamedJamaican singer Spiritual has been in the music business for many years, but has never released more than a handful of singles. But now his debut album has arrived.

Awakening is a slice of traditional and very well-produced roots reggae. And that’s something that could be expected when he has worked with renowned producers like Bobby “Digital” Dixon and Clifton “Specialist” Dillon.

Spiritual’s singing style lies close to reggae greats like Burning Spear and Culture’s Joseph Hill. And musically he treads the same path – conscious and authentic roots reggae with a high dose of integrity.

The two singles off the album – Time Has Come and Stand Up For Rasta – sum up the album very well.

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Solid second album from I-Taweh

unnamedSinger, producer and multi-instrumentalist I-Taweh recently dropped his second album Judgement, a set following his debut set Overload, which was put out in 2011.

Judgement comes with 16 cuts, including three dub versions. Two of the tracks – Never Fade Away and Herb Treez – have previously been released as singles. The rest of the songs are new. And a number of these are infectious and catchy with tight musicianship.

The strongest cuts are the pulsating Make It (Rainy Day) and the melancholic No Night, a song with a powerful brass section courtesy of horn veterans Dean Fraser and the late Nambo Robinson.

With this self-produced set I-Taweh will hopefully attract a number of new followers.

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Monumental Glen Brown productions reissued

unnamedSylford Walker’s dread and eerie debut album Lamb’s Bread was recorded in the late 70s for producer Glen Brown, but never issued until 1990 when Greensleeves picked it up at a time when ragga was started to running to show.

Needless to say it sank into obscurity until Blood & Fire reissued it as Lamb’s Bread International ten years later to wide critical acclaim. That reissue was paired with Welton Irie’s Ghettoman Corner, an album with cuts voiced over the same riddims used for Lamb’s Bread. Lamb’s Bread International was a bomb, but it has been unavailable since its release.

Luckily, Greensleeves has picked up the album once again and once more its paired with Ghettoman Corner. This time both full-lengths are collected in their entirety. Only on the CD version though.

The se glorious sets collects some exceptional, militant and uncommercial roots music with prophetic warnings and apocalyptic messages. The CD version comes with killer cuts like Sylford Walker’s Lamb’d Bread, Chant Down Babylon, Give Thanks and Praise to Jah and Cleanliness is Godliness along with Welton Irie’s own Lamb’s Bread International, Ghettoman Corner, Stone a Throw and Wicked Tumbling.

Sylford Walker can be compared to Burning Spear, but his singing style is even rougher and the soundscape Glen Brown created for these recordings is far more haunting than anything The Spear has recorded.

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Classics and obscurities on Studio One Rocksteady 2

unnamedWith a sturdy 19 tracks there’s not a dull moment on Soul Jazz’ second installment of Studio One Rocksteady, although some of the tracks have previously been featured on countless of other albums. I’m talking about well-known songs like Alton Ellis’ I’m Still In Love With You, Slim Smit’s Born To Love and The Heptones’ I Shall Be Released.

The title is however slightly misleading since the album draws both Studio One’s deep rocksteady and early reggae vaults. And it offers a sweet mix of staples and obscure singles. Best of the bunch is The Termites’ pulsating Rub Up Push Up, Carlton & The Shoes’ melancholic Never Let Go, Cannon & The Soul Vendors’ bouncy instrumental Bad Treatment and The Actions’ up-tempo Giddy Up.

Studio One Rocksteady 2 includes a number of cuts that helped to shape reggae to an international phenomenon.

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Wake up – Max Romeo’s daughter Xana has dropped a solid debut album

xanaromeowakeupRoots reggae veteran Max Romeo’s children have stepped into the spotlight. A few years ago his son dropped the scorching Grow My Dread and about a month ago his daughter Xana Romeo put out her debut album Wake Up.

It has been a busy year for the Romeo’s. First Max Romeo’s own full-length Horror Zone and then Xana Romeo’s debut. Two solid sets, but with disparate sounds.

Horror Zone was a throwback to the 70s and certainly a very vintage sounding effort, whereas Wake Up is contemporary with a more modern soundscape.

Wake Up collects eleven cuts of which five are dub versions. The audio landscape is thick and ethereal with both brass and melodica. Xana Romeo sings with great confidence and heavy patois and her musical journey will be a delight to follow.

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Killer Lloyd Parks compilation on Pressure Sounds

Layout 1 (Page 1)The latest album coming from reissue giant Pressure Sounds is another great one. And it’s not dedicated to Yabby You, Bunny Lee or Lee Perry. This one is all about bass maestro and soulful vocalist Lloyd Parks, probably best known for being an in-demand session musician.

Lloyd Parks started his career as one half of rocksteady duo The Termites and later he became a solo singer as well as a prominent guitar player and bass virtuoso. Back in the 70s he was part of no less than six different powerful musical forces – The Professionals, The Aggrovators, The Upsetters, The Revolutionaries, Skin Flesh & Bones and We The People Band.

As a session musician he has over the years played on countless of classics, including major hits such as Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own, Max Romeo’s War Inna Babylon, Dave & Ansel’s Double Barrel and The Wailers’ Soul Rebel. Lloyd Parks is also the mastermind behind the Slaving riddim, often miscredited to Glen Brown.

This hefty set comes with 22 track, including Slaving and its version. And the remaining 20 cuts are just as great and demonstrate Lloyd Parks’ gift for writing socially conscious lyrics and catchy melodies.

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Solid third album from J Boog

51-jzwoecgl-_ss500Samoan-American singer J Boog has one of the best voices in the reggae business. Such great energy and passion. He grew up in Compton, LA, and later relocated to Hawaii where he teamed up with Wash House Productions.

He dropped his debut album already ten years ago, but it was in 2010 he broke big with his Let’s Do It Again on Don Corleon’s Major riddim. His second set Backyard Boogie was released the year after, but since then he has only released occasional singles and cuts on one riddim compilations.

Until last year. In early 2016 he dropped the five track EP Rose Petals, which has been nominated for a Grammy in the reggae category. It was the predecessor to his third album Wash House Ting.

This 14 track set features several previously released cuts, including two songs from Rose Petals. It also includes collaborations with top names such as Chaka Demus, Gappy Ranks, Buju Banton and Gramps Morgan from Morgan Heritage.

Wash House Ting is a solid set – although the sonic landscape could have been more powerful – with sweet melodies and catchy hooks and J Boog shines as usual. And he’s at the top of his game on slightly more militant songs like Lock It Off, Vex Me and Raggamuffin.

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Stunning instrumentals on ABC Rocksteady

a0416938415_16In December Japan’s Dub Store Records put out another scarce rocksteady gem. ABC Rocksteady was originally released in 1968 in Jamaica and the UK with different sleeves. This reissues comes with the Jamaican and slightly more colorful sleeve.

The set includes instrumental versions of some of producer Sonia Pottinger’s greatest rocksteady cuts and all features ex-Skatalite and saxophone maestro Roland Alphonso as arranger and musician.

Hip Hug Her is a slice of funky rocksteady while Wild and Free is almost like a big swing band playing. The flute on Narata adds brightness and the tracks like That’s Life and Sad Song feature killer organ work.

A must-have set for anyone interested in great music.

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