Tag Archives: The Lions

Refreshingly funky on The Lions’ Soul Riot

About 20 years ago I was caught in the American ska craze with bands like The Toasters, The Slackers and The Pietasters. The spark that lit my fire was a compilation called Give ‘Em the Boot, and on that album was a ska band called Hepcat with singers Deston Berry and Alex Désert.

Unfortunately Hepcat soon went on a hiatus and I didn’t hear anything about them until two years ago when The Lions dropped their excellent debut album This Generation, dubbed to perfection the year after by Tom Chasteen.

Deston Berry and Alex Désert form half of the vocal team along with Malik Moore and deejay Black Shakespeare, the cousin of Robbie Shakespeare. And on The Lions’ brand new album they have also invited label mate Myron Glasper, of soul duo Myron & E, to showcase his talent.


And it’s no coincidence that a soul singer is appearing on Soul Riot, as this brilliant twelve track set is titled. It’s definitely a reggae album, but with a myriad of other influences, particularly funk, soul, hip-hop and a little bit of disco.

This is hip reggae sounding like it did it in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s creative, playful and festive, such as Rhythm Rock with its live-played hip-hop-ish beat with bright horns and the discofied Magnificent Dance.

But it also has a more emotive side, as shown on Smoke & Mirrors with Malik Moore’s sweet falsetto and the smoky Falling with Alex Désert on the microphone.

Soul Riot is steamy and breezy at the same time and it’s a fantastic album that deserves wide attention.


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Roaring dubs on This Generation in Dub

65f51e289074f0d73473cfe6d68953a9Dub Club’s Tom Chasteen has dubbed the hell out of The Lions’ excellent This Generation, a set released last year. He has twisted and turned the knobs and the remixed version has a brand new sound, where the bass has been turned up to the max and the percussion plays a more central part.

This Generation in Dub is not a fully accurate title though since album opener Picture on the Wall is a full-blown vocal cut, however in a new shape since Ranking Joe and Leroy Sibbles take turns on the microphone on this version. The other seven cuts are more or less straight dubs with lots of imaginative mixing.

The original album was beautifully arranged with stunning harmonies, tough bass lines and sweet horns, so Tom Chasteen had much to deconstruct and build up again, though with added echo and reverb.

The album title track has been dubbed beyond belief and has something of rock feeling to it now, while New Dub sounds like it has been sent to outer space and back. And not to mention Dub It Tonight. It’s razor sharp and sounds like two ninjas sword fighting.

Another nugget from Stones Throw Records, a label that now has several excellent reggae albums under their belt.

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Tom Chasteen dubs The Lions’ This Generation

this-generation-in-dubFour of last year’s best releases were The Lions’ This Generation and Dub Club’s Foundation Come Again and its dub counterparts Signs and Wonders in Dub and Bubble Dub. The man behind the three latter is Tom Chasteen, a Los Angeles based producer and DJ with taste for early dancehall.

He has now taken eight tracks from The Lions’ This Generation album for a dub workout.

“The mixing was done rapid fire, bringing up each track on the mixing board, dialing in the sounds and then dubbing it live in real time while it’s fresh. This record is not ‘remixed’ in the modern sense, but ‘dubbed’ in the classic Jamaican manner: adding some percussion and vocals, but basically leaving the tracks as they are and deconstructing them with echo and reverb,” explains Tom Chasteen in a press release.

This Generation in Dub drops on June 10th and is a journey through classic 70s reggae and soul. And the 14-man ensemble The Lions have a distinct style with bright brass and pulsating bass lines with sweet falsetto from Malik Moore and the DJ stylings of Robbie Shakespeare’s cousin Black Shakespeare.

“The Los Angeles reggae scene is really lively right now and this record is a cool meeting of the minds between artists who love the golden era of 70s Reggae. It was a blast dubbing The Lions record because there was so much to work with: beautiful harmony vocals, tough bass lines, sweet horn arrangements, and musical vibes that you can’t get out of a laptop,” concludes Tom Chasteen.

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Half-year report 2013 – 15 best albums yet

The first six months of 2013 have offered a number of glorious albums from Jamaican, U.S. and European artists and producers. My 15 favorites are listed below and if you’re curious about how it sounds you’re more than welcome to check the accompanying Spotify playlist here, where a majority of the releases are included. You can also check a review of each album by clicking the link to the set.

The list includes no reissues and is in no particular order.

Captain Sinbad – Reggae Music Will Mad Unu!
This veteran deejay made his musical comeback for Frenchie more than 20 years after his latest release. The LP and the version for digital platforms have different track lists, and I suggest you check out the vinyl version.

Cornel Campbell – New Scroll
The sweet high tenor voice courtesy of Cornel Campbell is set to magnificent music from the highly talented production trio Zion I Kings.

Jahcoustix – Frequency
German singer Jahcoustix wanted to make a more diverse album, but Frequency is his most consistent and cohesive set yet.

Trinity – Eye to Eye
Gruff voiced pioneering deejay Trinity teamed-up with Irie Ites for this retro sounding musical feast.

Malika Madremana – The Race
High school teacher by day and singer by night. Judging by this wonderful album Malika Madremana should focus on her music.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Ancient Power
Bob Marley-sounding Meta Dia moved from his home country Senegal to New York City and was exposed to an array of musical styles. His second album is roots reggae at its finest.

Jah Sun – Rise as One
Best album yet from this reliable U.S. deejay.

Lion D – Bring Back the Vibes
Rising star on the European and global reggae scene that has managed to make a catchy album full of foundation vibes.

Chezidek  The Order of Melchezedik
In 2010 Chezidek teamed-up with Dutch label JahSolidRock for his critically acclaimed album Judgement Time. In April this year the same label dropped Chezidek’s new album The Order of Melchezedik, and needless to say – they put out another powerful set of Rasta anthems.

The Lions – This Generation
13 musicians and four lead singers were involved the making of this soulful album that could be cherished by youths and elders alike.

Black Roots – On the Ground in Dub
One of the best UK reggae bands that reunited last year for the album On the Ground. This is the heavy dub version that contains some inspired mixing.

Etana – Better Tomorrow
Etana’s most cohesive yet and offers a soulful something for everyone.

Protoje – The 8 Year Affair
One of the leaders of the new generation of Jamaican conscious artists. This, his second album, is darker and heavier compared to his debut album The 7 Year Itch.

Jah9 – New Name
Debut album from the conscious Jah9. Her jazzy and breezy voice floats over hard riddims produced by Rory from Stone Love.

Lloyd Brown – New Veteran
Probably one of the most consistent artists – in any genre – in the world. Lloyd Brown usually drops at least one album per year and the quality is remarkably high.

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The Lions’ sound for generations

STH2264Los Angeles based band The Lions has something of an ad hoc membership and on their latest set This Generation no less than 17 musicians were involved. Of these four are lead singers – the gritty and smooth vintage style of Malik Moore, the deejay efforts of Robbie Shakespeare’s cousin Black Shakespeare, the soulful Alex Désert and the legendary Leroy Sibbles from The Heptones.

The core of the band joined forces in 2007 and the year after their mostly instrumental dub and reggae debut Jungle Struttin’ was put out. This new album also incorporates instrumentals, but the vast majority of the tracks are vocals with a soulful, funky and jazzy backing.

This Generation is all about exquisite musicianship, excellent showmanship courtesy of Black Shakespeare and delicate singing and harmonies. It’s classic Jamaican 70’s reggae played by real musicians who know how to start a groove and set a dancefloor on fire.

Highlights include all of Malik Moore’s cuts, especially the sad Padre Ichiro and the more joyous album opener Bird On A Wire, and Black Shakespeare’s rolling and rocking Let’s Go Out Tonight complete with several references to reggae history.

This Generation is now available on CD and digital platforms.


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