Stix Records is back with yet another compilation focusing on making reggae versions of soul and disco scorchers. This third edition comes with a variety of producers, including Taggy Matcher, who is onboard as usual and graces the album with three productions.
The nine track set includes both newly recorded material and classics. And among the standout tracks are Mato’s reggae refix of Lucas Arruda & Leon Ware’s funky Melt the Night with its slick guitar work and Taggy Matcher’s version of Inner City’s Big Fun complete with great horns and a memorable synth line. Also included is The Dynamics’ version of Rolling Stones’ disco joint I Miss You with its infectious “oooh oooh oooh oooh and aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah” chorus.
Cool, breezy and funky. Music for laid-back cats.
On Phoenix City All-Stars‘ debut album Two Tone Gone Ska they did blazing ska versions of material by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and Madness. Now they have another cover album out, but this time they have taken on a giant of rock music – Rolling Stones.
Phoenix City All-Stars are far from newcomers and they know their ska and their Rolling Stones. The band comprises members of Pama International, The Sidewalk Doctors, Kasabian, Intensified, Dub Vendor All-Stars, The Loafers, Big Boss Man, The Bongolian and The Delegators. On vocals they are also supported by the deejay Oxman and the singer Freddie Notes, known for the smooth Montego Bay released in 1970.
Skatisfaction collects ten tracks, including hits and lesser known tracks from the mighty Rolling Stones vaults. Phoenix City All-Stars have treated them with respect and revitalized them in scorching ska and rocksteady versions.
And these frantic and storming cuts hold up well against the popular originals, especially the instrumental cut to Under My Thumb, where a haunting organ provides the original vocal line, and the honeyed Sweet Virgina, also an instrumental, and with a smooth saxophone replacing the singing.
This album has loads of raw attitude and collects driving ska and killer early reggae. Rolling Stones should be satisfied with such a well-crafted tribute set.
Just finished Keith Richards’ biography Life. He’s guitar virtuoso in The Rolling Stones, slave to rhythm, growing up eating early R&B singles for breakfast, and a devoted reggae fan ever since the early 70’s. He has for example recorded with the late Peter Tosh and Max Romeo, but has also lived in Jamaica and bought his first house there in the 70’s.
Together with The Rolling Stones he and his partner in crime Mick Jagger – known together as the Glimmer Twins – have tried their is hands on several different music genres, including reggae.
When I read Life I learned that Keith Richards love for reggae was deep, almost profound. I found out that he had recorded a bunch of spiritual nyabinghi musicians in his home in Ocho Rios in the mid 90’s. He christened the outfit – led by the late Justin Hinds – Wingless Angels and their self-titled debut album dropped in 1997 and its follow-up just two years ago. The latest release is actually the last known recording of Justin Hinds, who died of cancer in 2005.
When listening to the albums I’ve to say I’m impressed. Keith Richards has kept the music to its bare essentials – powerful and unison chants to the sound of African-styled drums. There are however some minor, but not disturbing, overdubs by guitar, bass, flute, vocals and violin.
Wingless Angels are far away from the gritty, floor shaking rock The Rolling Stones are known for, and it’s noble of Keith Richards to not impose much electricity to these mostly Christian traditional hymns. Because it’s their raw, authentic and genuine atmosphere that makes each track unique, and only someone who has a passionate love of music can refrain from tainting it with their own flair, and instead keep it pure.
Keith Richards just stepped through the ranks in my book.