Last year veteran UK deejay Brother Culture teamed up with producer and mixing engineer Joe Ariwa, son of the legendary Mad Professor. Together they dropped a set titled The Secret Files, an album where Brother Culture targets Big Brother, state control and invasion of personal privacy. It’s certainly a current issue thanks to the disclosures made by Edward Snowden.
As usual with albums coming from Ariwa this is showcase effort and each of the six vocal cuts are directly followed by their dub counterpart.
And over a heavy and equally steady riddim Brother Culture chats “the most camera is found in the UK. The film you in the cinema, they film you in the bar, they even film you when you are walking in the park. They say it’s part of the war on terror, but soon every man a gonna need a barrister”. A telling verse of how it is in many countries today. Big Brother is watching every step you take; whether you are outside in the streets or at home in front of your computer.
An important album targeting a critical question, and hopefully it might raise awareness around Big Brother surveillance.
Alborosie’s label VP Records certainly tries to make the most out of his acclaimed latest album Sound the System, released in June last year.
After the original album release a dub version was put out in December 2013. And now a new version is available in two separate editions.
Sound the System Showcase comes with ten tracks in full showcase style, i.e. followed by their dub counterparts. It’s available on CD, digital download and a limited edition 5×10” vinyl box set. The latter looks like a bona fide eye-catcher with its master tape style box with lift-off lid.
Sound the System Showcase effortlessly pairs Sound the System with Dub the System. It’s great set honouring the lovely showcase style. If you already own the vocal and the dub set, then this album maybe seems like a collectors item and only for die-hard Alborosie fans.
But that’s not necessarily the case. Here you get the best out of two worlds. Definitely well-worth seeking out.
Abassi All Stars is a project led by Zion Train’s producer and front man Neil Perch. The group has mainly put out a number of significantly ground shaking limited edition 7” and 10”. The first batch of these was collected on the compilation Showcase put out in 2006. A year later its dub counterpart was also issued.
Now it’s time for the second batch of Abassi All Stars 10” to be compiled on the aptly titled Showcase Vol. 2.
The album’s 17 tracks – of which Fitta Warri’s Too Much War is previously unreleased – are derived from six vinyl EP’s issued between 2006 and 2008, and are based on 17 different riddims voiced by singers and deejays from Europe and Jamaica.
The production is the usual Neil Perch – heavy bass lines, beautiful horns work and political spoken word interjections along with dedicated lyricists.
Some of the strongest moments include Omar Perry’s Daily Bread on the No Answer riddim and Tippa Irie’s Praises on the World Peace riddim. However, the best cut on the World Peace riddim – Beenie Man & Calib’s title track – is not included, which is a shame.
This strong set of heavyweight modern roots reggae from one of Europe’s most forward-thinking producers certainly deserves to reach a broader audience than those who got their hands on the 10”. Now I just hope a dub Showcase Vol. 2 will be made available.
Out now on digital platforms.
The talented and versatile musician and singer Emmanuel Joseph recently dropped his solo debut album Psalms From the Heart on UK label Falasha recordings, affiliated with the well-known Aba Shanti sound system.
Emmanuel Joseph has been in the business for many years and his merits list includes composing for the theatre and working with Paul McGuigan from Oasis and the band Cornershop. The producer of his new album – drummer Blood Shanti – has a more straight forward reggae background working with artists such as The Abyssinians, Johnny Clarke and Tena Stelin.
On Psalms From the Heart, there is no theatrical sounds nor styles reminiscent of Oasis or Cornershop. It offers roots reggae in a UK style. There are lots of dark thumping bass lines and also some nice nyabinghi vibes. Emmanuel Joseph’s deep voice suits the rhythm backing very well.
The album collects 14 tracks in a showcase style, which means that each vocal is followed by its dub counterpart. There are also four versions of the tune Open Road – two vocals and two dubs. The remix versions of this strong tune is actually better than the originals, at least if you prefer melodica instead of keyboard.
This album is for those who enjoy quality conscious reggae with spiritual vibes. And I’m always thrilled over showcase albums. You just have to love it.