Eight-piece British ska band New Town Kings released their third album Reach Out a few months ago. It offers a more progressive take on ska and reggae compared to their previous sets M.O.J.O and Sound of the New Town.
With Reach Out the band serves up a fresh take on high-powered ska and rootsy reggae, including an inspired reworking of Sylford Walker’s dread roots anthem Burn Babylon, complete with vocals by the man himself.
New Town Kings has also recorded their own anthem – the smoothly enraged Borderline where they tackle migration and attack current political policy. And even though New Town Kings doesn’t shy away from politics and attacking the social elite, they can also handle lighter moods, for example the breezy Fine Fine Fine or the soulful British Summer, a track that can handle any weather. It will lift you up during rain and keep the party going on a sunny day.
With fierce lyrics, buoyant vocal energy, progressive rhythms and captivating horns it’s no surprise New Town Kings has been endorsed by both David Rodigan and Steve Lamacq.
Sylford 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.
John Brown’s Body is one of the most popular reggae bands in the U.S. 10 Ft. Ganja Plant comprises several members of that outfit, but their music leans more towards authentic 70’s roots reggae.
On 10 Ft. Ganja Plant’s seventh album – only one year after the concept album 10 Deadly Shots – they continue to impress with tight riddims and dubwise arrangements.
Shake up the Place contains ten tracks – always ten or eleven on their albums – with several prominent guest artists.
Sylford Walker, Prince Jazzbo and The Meditations certainly sound very comfortable. Sylford Walker is close to Burning Spear in the apocalyptic My Roots and Prince Jazzbo’s flow on the relevant Recession is an excursion back to the 70’s.
But Shake up the Place is more than great vocals. Several of the tunes are instrumentals and the musicianship is flawless throughout. Just listen to the harmony between the guitars, piano and organ in the title track or the trumpet solo in Ringers Rock. Pure gold.
Shake up the Place shakes up the more than the place – it shakes up the world.