It’s not often contemporary reggae albums gets reissued, but reggae powerhouse VP/Greensleeves have recently re-released Alborosie & Specialist’s duets album, a 24 track set originally issued in 2010 in a limited edition.
The album is produced by Alborosie and his collaborator Clifton “Specialist” Dillion, the renowned producer and manager behind 90s dancehall stars like Patra, Shabba Ranks and Mad Cobra.
Alborosie rose to prominence in 2007 with his Kingston Town, later followed by a string of hits, including Herbalist and Rastafari Anthem. He’s probably the most successful European reggae artist ever, and for a number of years he has been a Jamaican citizen living in Kingston, Jamaica.
This singer, songwriter, mixing engineer, producer and multi-instrumentalist is well-respected within the reggae community, as shown on this duets album. Plenty of reggae stars take turns on the microphone with Alborosie – Mykal Rose, Sizzla, David Hinds from Steel Pulse, Luciano, Ranking Joe, Jah Cure, Etana, Lady Ann and Busy Signal can be heard on this excellent album.
The material on this double disc was recorded between 2008 and 2010, and several of the cuts have been hard to find. But luckily this sizzling and highlight-packed album has now been made available again with more aggressive distribution.
You can’t say that the reggae world has been spoiled with sweet harmony vocal trios the last twenty years or so. They had their heydays in the 60’s and 70’s and since the glory days of Culture, Mighty Diamonds and Gladiators nearly no new groups have emerged.
That’s why it’s such a blessing to listen to Re-Birth, the new album from Derrick Lara, Carlton Smith and Sylvanus “Junior” Moore, better known as The Tamlins.
This outfit began recording in the mid 70’s and have had some well-known tunes, mainly covers such as Smiling Faces and the wicked Sly & Robbie production Baltimore.
Sly & Robbie are also present on Re-Birth. Not in persons, but in production style. Alborosie and Clifton “Specialist” Dillon have managed to create a sound that’s very reminiscent of early 80’s Sly & Robbie. The production is bubbling, organic and vital. It’s fun to listen to.
Their voices and harmonies are as good as in their prime. Just listen to the Send Them Come, on the Full Up riddim, or the bouncy Delano Stewart cover Tell Me Baby.
Included are also two duets, a reworking of Baltimore with Alborosie himself, and the pleading Who Are Leading Us, with an – for me – unknown singer called Spiritual. Both work really well since Alborosie’s and Spiritual’s rugged voices contrasts nicely to the beautiful harmonies.
The Tamlins albums and singles from the 70’s are today quite hard to find. This great new set shows that they’re in desperate need of a reissue program or anthology.
Last week I praised Sicilian dread Alborosie’s debut as a dub mixing engineer. And now it’s time for another round of applause.
Alborosie, Specialist & Friends is a compilation of 27 Alborosie duets with the crème de la crème of reggae. The duets range from deejays such as Busy Signal and Shabba Ranks to veterans Mykal Rose and Ranking Joe. He has also managed to get Kymani Marley on board on three tracks, two of which are Bob Marley covers.
The riddims range from old school roots to bouncy dancehall. Somewhere in between, Alborosie also adds some nice hip-hop vibes and lovers rock flavor. The broad span impresses a lot since there’s not a weak or dull moment on these two discs. However, Can’t Let You Go, together with Nikki Burt, is a bit weird, since its chorus is very similar to 80’s hit song Take My Breath Away. Alborosie has obviously been watching Top Gun.
A bunch of the tracks are easily available on Alborosie’s three full length albums, for example Money, Mama She Don’t Like You and I Can’t Stand It. But included are also gems like Ganja Dan, a duet with Jah Sun, and Meditation, a combination with Sizzla, tunes that I had never heard before.
This is an essential purchase for any Alborosie fan, reggae aficionado or music lover.