Without a doubt the late and great Philip ”Fattis” Burrell produced some of Sizzla’s best songs and albums, including Praise Ye Jah, one of his breakthrough sets in the 90s.
The extremely prolific Sizzla was at his most consistent during the 90s and have since had a more than varied output, especially in recent years when he voices riddim after riddim after riddim.
Now reggae powerhouse VP has teamed up with Philip Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell for the release of Radical, a set said to compile rare and unreleased material from Sizzla’s formative years in the 90s and the early 2000s. But it includes both rare and unreleased gems from Sizzla’s period with Philip Burrell as well as more recent material, for example What’s Wrong With the Picture, produced by Kareem Burrell and put out in 2011.
Over 16 tracks Sizzla rallies and rails against inequity and the ills of society, but also chants and sings affectionate love songs. It’s both raw and honest, as on It’s a Rocky Road and on the excellent title track, a version of Greedy Joe, but also uplifting and groovy, for example on I Am No Better and That’s Why I Love You.
Some of the cuts included should maybe have remained shelved, while others definitely deserves attention, for example tracks showcasing a young and fierce youth.
If you want a lesson in Sizzla’s early years I also suggest you head over to BMC’s Reggae Blog, where this Dutch mixtape maniac has published two mixes with over 50 tunes covering Sizzla’s work between 1995 and 2002.
When UK reissue label Pressure Sounds announced a new Lee Perry compilation they wrote “we know what you are thinking, another Lee Perry album on Pressure Sounds.” Well, I could not have said it better myself. It was my first thought when I heard about the release.
The majority of the previous seven Lee Perry compilations issued on Pressure Sounds have been very strong, particularly some of the earliest ones. And Roaring Lion – as the latest eight set is titled – is no exception and definately not just another Lee Perry compilation.
The material on the album was mostly recorded or re-mixed in 1976 and it delivers 16 unreleased tracks, of which eleven come from a master tape that has been laying in storage for 30 years. The other five are made up of dub plates and alternate takes of previously released tracks. All in all the set includes no less than five previously unreleased tracks from Jah Lion, Augustus Pablo and The Upsetters.
The audio quality is surprisingly good and you have all of Lee Perry’s trademarks at the Black Ark put on wax – bouncing bass, creative arrangements and a dense and atmospheric soundscape filled with cultural currents and vocal snippets dropping in and out of the swirling mixes.
Fans of Bob Marley will probably be super excited, since the album collects an unreleased dub plate mix of Natural Mystic, one of the man’s most crucial tunes put out on Island Records.
Roaring Lion comes with excellent liner notes from Lee Perry enthusiast Jeremy Collingwood and in tandem with the album release Pressure Sounds has put out three Lee Perry produced 7”, two of which are not on the album.