Tag Archives: Tarrus Riley

Mecoustic more than a version album

Tarrus Riley is one of the most reliable singers in contemporary reggae music, equally at ease with both dancehall and one drop. And as the son of reggae/soul singer Jimmy Riley, his foray into music was almost inescapable.

On Mecoustic – his fourth album to date – Tarrus Riley has taken a new musical direction, and this new style is gospel-influenced and sometimes hymn-like.

It’s a sensitive journey accompanied by soothing acoustic guitar, relaxed bass lines, classy keys, African drumming and delicate horn arrangements.

Mecoustic offers new versions of previously released material, and modern classics such as She’s Royal, Marcus Garvey, System Set, One Two Order and Africa Await get a new warm and angelic treatment.

But these 15 tunes, of which one is a short nyabinghi version of Eye Sight, are more than just versions. Way more. New arrangements and new moods are created for each song. And the result is beautiful, enchanting and very impressive.

With Mecoustic Tarrus Riley secures his rightful place in amid the very best in reggae music, both among his contemporaries as well as the founding fathers.


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J Boog lives up to high expectations

J Boog’s Let’s do it Again and Coldest Zone on Don Corleon’s Major and Bost & Bim’s Hustlin’ riddims respectively were two of the biggest highlights from last year.

And he has continued in the same strong vein ever since.

The smooth Waiting on the Rain and the bouncy I’m Fallen – again for Don Corleon – as well as the self-titled EP has all been strong efforts.

Now J Boog’s debut album Backyard Boogie has dropped, and the big question is if he can maintain his high standard and live up to the huge expectations. The answer is yes.

Backyard Boogie is a strong, often radio-friendly, album from start to finish.

It contains mostly exclusives and is generally in the modern one drop reggae vein with one excursion into ska – the Peetah Morgan duet Sunshine Girl.

J Boog is a fine singer with a hoarse yet soft ring in his voice. He is comfortable with both up-tempo cuts, such as the Million Stylez duet Replay on Bost & Bim’s Marvel riddim, or the R&B flavored Take it Slow, a tune reminiscent of Lost Without You by Grammy Award winner Robin Thicke.

Other highlights include the ganja anthem Hawaiian Pakalolo, built on Sly & Robbie’s Taxi riddim and utilizing lyrics from Josey Wales’ It Haffi Bun, and the Tarrus Riley duet She Give Me Lovin’ with its funky saxophone.

My fiancée summed up the album well the other day when she said “this is good music”. Agreed.


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Half-year report – best tunes and albums yet

The first six months of 2011 have passed and there have been plenty of fine albums, singles and riddims from around the globe.

From Down Under Mista Savona presented the wicked compilation Warn the Nation. Here in Europe producers, artists and labels in Spain, France, Germany, the UK and several other countries have been busy putting out music with good quality. The U.S. and the Caribbean have also – of course – been very much present.

The two finest albums to date come from former Studio One singer Alpheus and the Guianese singjay sensation Takana Zion. Their efforts are in two different reggae genres – rock steady and roots – and show how important the roots of reggae really are.

Several strong riddims have been released. The best ones come from the Maximum Sound camp and are titled Skateland Killer and Ghetto State. The former is loosely based on Half Pint’s classic One Big Ghetto from the early 80’s.

But everything is not sweet and dandy in the reggae business. French reissue label Makasound filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. It shows just how tough it can be running a label these days. The small independent labels and producers need you. Please support them and buy the music if you like what you hear. Piracy is killing our beloved music.

Ahead are what could be some really interesting releases. VP has listed albums from Queen Ifrica, I Wayne and Sanchez with new albums. Pressure Sounds has scheduled a compilation with some of Augustus Pablo’s digital output. Lustre Kings – who put out the seminal Jahdan Blakkamoore album Babylon Nightmare late last year – is on the verge of dropping Back for the First Time by Perfect.

Dutch Slimmah Sound will also release an album from sound system mic man Lyrical Benjie in early July.

These are just some of the albums scheduled for release in the coming months. There will of course be plenty of other albums, one riddim compilations and singles from Jamaica and beyond.

To sum up the first six months I have compiled some of the best reggae that 2011 has offered so far.

Below you will find five must-have albums and ten must-have tunes. As you will realize, I am not much of a contemporary dancehall fan. There have been some tough tunes, but not many made it into the top ten.

Five must-have albums (in no particular order)

Alpheus – From Creation
Takana Zion – Rasta Government
Alborosie – 2 Times Revolution
Ziggi Recado – Ziggi Recado
Earl Sixteen – The Fittest

Ten must-have tunes (singles only, in no particular order and with riddim in brackets)

Sizzla – Ghetto Youths Rise (Ghetto State)
Tarrus Riley – Rebel (Skateland Killer)
Ricardo Clarke – Only Got Love (Bonafide)
Brina – Real Reggae Music
Dark Angel – Good One (Reuben)
I Octane – Cyan Do Wi Nuttn
Queen Omega – Take Control (Backstabber)
Tarrus Riley – Never Leave I (Island Vibes)
Sizzla – Terrible Stranger (The Nyabighi)
Ky-Mani Marley – Brave Ones (Message)

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Three new riddims from Frenchie

Master producer Frenchie has been a bit quiet for a while. Late last year he dropped a bunch of steppers tunes produced by Russ Disciples on his new imprint Calabash.

But now he is back with a bang. Three new riddims and one single are set for release next week. And as these are Frenchie productions you can count on some huge artists.

Sound Exterminata is a dancehall riddim voiced by the likes of Mr. Vegas and Burro Banton, while Skateland Killer is roots with cuts from Tarrus Riley and Frenchie’s long-time friend Captain Sinbad among others.

Ghetto State is a hip-hop tinged one drop and offers artists such as Sizzla and Bounty Killer.

Frenchie has also produced Unity from Swedish dancehall talent Million Stylez.

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New riddim from Curtis Lynch

Necessary Mayhem producer Curtis Lynch is apparently taking things up a notch in 2011. In January he dropped an EP from Chantelle Ernandez as well as a reworking of the classic riddim Pass the Kouchie and two 12” from Dennis Brown and Brinsley Forde respectively. February saw the lovers rock album The Love Directories that compiled both released and previously unreleased material.

Now he has come up with a new riddim called The Gorilla that is – according to the press release – “the best riddim so far on the Necessary Mayhem label”. And it certainly is a great one with efforts from a broad variety of artists.

Tarrus Riley, Omar Perry, Franz Job and veterans Macka B and Chukki Starr have all voiced this dub infused bass heavy riddim that will make you shake your hip and move your feet.

It’s available on Monday March 14th on vinyl and legal download.


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Reggaemani’s best tunes in 2010

Like with albums, 2010 has been a pretty decent year with some major tunes. Gyptian – for instance – scored one of the biggest reggae hits in recent years with his hypnotic Hold You.

Apart from Gyptian, Vybz Kartel had two very well received tunes – the anthemic Clarks that have some follow-ups and Jeans & Fitted featuring producer Russian.

In the one drop field producers like Not Easy At All, Frenchie and Irie Ites have kept their flag high in Europe. In Jamaica, Don Corleon and John John produced two of the best riddims this year – Major and Zion Gate.

My best tunes in 2010 are a mixture of hard and sweet and dancehall and one drop. The tunes selected are not necessarily the ones that I’ve played the most, since I wanted a more diverse list than 20 tunes in one drop mode. You’ll probably notice that Hold You and Clarks are missing. Why? What can I say? The competition was just too fierce.

Artist – song title (riddim)

20. Gappy Ranks & Million Stylez – Life
Two European singjays that work very well together.

19. Jah Vinci – Me Alone (Wallabeez)
Bouncy dancehall at its best.

18. Maikal X – Get Away (Police in Helicopter Reactivated)
One of the loudest bass lines in 2010. Ouch.

17. Sena – Work in It (Eyes On My Purpose)
Sena was in the top of my list last year. Work in It is a wicked combination of hip-hop and reggae.

16. Chris Martin – As I Walk Away (Jah Protect)
Beautiful ballad with Chris Martin’s emotional voice over a riddim with acoustic guitar and strings.

15. Jimmy Riley & Fantan Mojah – Tell Me Your Name (Best Trick)
Hard and pulsating riddim that makes you want to dance.

14. Nas & Damian Marley – As We Enter
Hip-hop and reggae fusion at its best.

13. Vybz Kartel & Russian – Jeans & Fitted
Combination of dancehall and hip-hop with pop melodies.

12. Protoje – J.A
A great homage to Jamaica.

11. Kali Blaxx – Nah Trust Dem (Clearly)
Way too under recorded singer on a nice one drop riddim.

10. Chezidek – Walk With Jah (Collie Weed)
Slow and sweet riddim with Chezidek’s distinctive voice.

9. Papa Dee – My DJ Friends
Swedish veteran deejay on a riddim that echoes from the 80’s.

8. Skarra Mucci – Jah Blessings (Jaguar)
Tough tune from this Jamaican singjay.

7. Romain Virgo – Live Mi Life (Boops)
Producer Shane C. Brown revitalizes this great 80’s riddim and Romain Virgo does a great job with it.

6. Sizzla – Music in My Soul (Zion Gate)
King Jammy’s son John John produced this relick of a Bunny Lee riddim. Sweet old school reggae.

5. Johnny Clarke & Fantan Mojah – Rebel With A Cause (Rebellion 2010)
Another great relick. This time from Frenchie who lays his hands on the Creation Rebel riddim.

4. J-Boog – Coldest Zone (Hustlin’)
Very emotional from Hawaiian singer J-Boog. Tough riddim from Bost & Bim.

3. Chezidek – Live and Learn 12”
Some wicked horns arrangements compliments Chezidek’s emotional singing very well.

2. Tarrus Riley – Wildfire (Major)
Tarrus Riley’s take on one of the best riddims in 2010. Smooth and uptempo at the same time.

1. Pressure – Ina Dancehall (Strange Things hip-hop remix)
Pulsating to say the least and Pressure’s flow is beyond belief. I must admit that this was released late December 2009, so it could have been disqualified. But it’s just to good.

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Win a copy of Duane Stephenson’s Black Gold

A few months ago Duane Stephenson dropped his sophomore album Black Gold, mainly produced by his friend and mentor Dean Fraser. The album has a very soft feeling to it and will probably appeal to those who like Tarrus Riley.

The kind people at VP Records have provided me with a copy of Black Gold to give away.

To win a copy you just have to answer two questions:
1. When did labels VP and Greensleeves merge?
2. What was the name of the group in which Duane Stephenson started his career?

Send your answers to erik at reggaemani dot com. Among the people who answer both questions correctly I will draw a winner. The competition ends on Sunday November 14 and the winner will be presented next week.

And no, this judge cannot be bribed. And yes, it’s a physical CD, not mp3-files.

Good luck!

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Million Vibes moves on with a new reggae mix

Swedish sound Million Vibes unleashes a new reggae and dancehall mix called Moving On containing conscious and lovers one drop as well as some nice dancehall tunes.

Million Vibes certainly knows reggae. Last year they, together with Rough Lynx, did a wicked tribute to Gussie Clarke, one of the best reggae producers ever.

In the new mix, Will Jam, selector of Million Vibes, have brought together some great old and new artists from Jamaica, Europe and U.S. For example Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Queen Ifrica, J Boog and Assassin.

Included are also dubplates from well know artists such as Busy Signal and Gyptian, but also from Swedish sensation Joey Fever, who is soon about to drop his debut album.

Moving On is free for download here.

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Tarrus Riley briljerar

Onsdagskvällen är iskall i Stockholm. Utomhustermometern visar omkring tio minusgrader. Det är med andra ord ganska långt ifrån den jamaicanska tropiska hettan. I alla fall utanför Kägelbanan på Södra Teatern. Inomhus håller Tarrus Riley hov och levererar en veritabel hitkavalkad i ett furiöst tempo.

Kvällen börjar sömnigt. Duktiga, men rätt tråkiga, sångaren Duane Stephenson inleder omkring halv elva på kvällen, en timme efter utsatt tid. Konserten är vid den här tiden långt ifrån fullsatt och Duane Stephenson anstränger sig inte nämnvärt för att roa publiken under sina dryga 20 minuter på scenen.

Lovande singjayn I-Octane är det desto mer liv i. Han far fram och tillbaka över scenen likt en speedad road runner. Han gör sitt bästa för att väcka liv i publiken, som nu börjat växa betydligt.

Även om I-Octane gör en godkänd insats så spelar han inte samma division som kvällens huvudperson. Faktiskt inte ens samma liga. Tarrus Riley fullkomligen kör över Duane Stephenson och I-Octane med sin scennärvaro, sin intensitet och sitt låtmaterial.

Tarrus Riley kliver på scenen klädd i hatt, slips, skjorta och glasögon. Han ser ut att komma direkt från skolbänken på något amerikanskt Ivy League-universitet. Men allt visar sig bara vara en chimär.

Tarrus Riley är en briljant entertainer och lyckas göra tuffa liveversioner av sitt många gånger harmlösa material. Tillsammans med niomannabandet ger han redan bra låtar som Beware, Micro Chip, System Set, One Two Order och Good Girl, Gone Bad nytt liv. Han lyckas till och med göra Michael Jackson-covern Human Nature riktigt intressant. Mycket tack vare tempohöjningen.

Publiken har kul. Tarrus Riley har kul. Stora delar av bandet har också kul. De enda som verkar ha tråkigt är de två körsångerskorna som mest ser ut att frysa.

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Omar Perry har hittat formen

Omar Perry2009 är reggaebarnens år. Först ut var Queen Ifrica. Sen var det Tarrus Rileys tur. Och nu har stafettpinnen nått Lee Perrys son Omar Perry.

Can’t Stop Us Now är Omar Perrys uppföljare till 2007-års debut Man Free. Debuten var en solid insats som blandade roots med lovers med ska med dancehall. Lite spretig med andra ord, men en klart godkänd debut.

Den nya plattan är betydligt mer sammanhållen jämfört med sin föregångare. Här finns exempelvis ingen ska, men väl två dancehallutflykter och lite nyabinghi-takter.

Dancehallåtarna Right Right Left och Bring Me Joy är inte plattans starkaste och Omar Perry borde hålla sig till det han kan bäst – roots.

Omar Perrys sånginsatser påminner stundtals om Junior Kelly och Alborosie. Hans lätt arga singjay-stil passar mycket bra tillsammans med de poppigare tongångarna i avslutande Spiritually och den nyabinghi-influerade och lejonkungendoftande 911 (Memorial).

Omar Perry spelar säkert hela skivan igenom. Arvet från hans far märks på en cover av Junior Byles klassiska Beat Down Babylon och en version av Max Romeos Chase the Devil.

Av pappa Perrys experimentlusta märks inte mycket annat än en fet och annorlunda version av Ini Kamozes World a Music som gjorts världskänd genom Damian ”Jr. Gong” Marleys Welcome to Jamrock. Omar Perrys version heter Boom Town och är en riktigt stökig historia.


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