Tag Archives: Uwe Banton

A seriously essential album from Jahcoustix

Irie099-JAHCOUSTIX-SERIOUSLY-POSITIVE-2500x2500px-72dpi-webOn Jahcoustix’ seventh album he has once again teamed up with Austria’s Irievibrations, just like he did on Frequency and its more naked counterpart Acoustic Frequency. And the result is yet another marvellous album.

Seriously Positive is a telling title. This album is uplifting, comforting and charming and it’s easy to dream away when dwelling into the sympathetic arrangements and Jahcoustix’ fervid yet laid-back, sometimes almost lazy, vocal style, which is complemented on two tracks by Uwe Banton and Akae Beka aka Vaughn Benjamin, formerly Midnite’s frontman and lead singer.

This is a throw-back to vintage reggae and the organic sound owes quite a lot to rocksteady, especially the driving organ and the tight and beautiful harmonizing on several tracks, as exemplified on a cut like the insanely catchy Old Tongue.

Other highlights include the heartfelt When We Part, the breezy Soul Steady with its lingering piano, horns and guitar and the pulsating Too Brutal, which includes some kind of rapping in the verses.

According to the press release Jahcoustix voiced the entire set in just one day. That’s an achievement. But with masterful musicianship and top-notch arrangements it’s no wonder why he might have been on a creative high.

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An average album from Mikey General

55b727bbf7986c47ab1224404fce0c55UK-born singer Mikey General has been in the music business for ages. He recorded his first tracks in the UK in the mid 80’s and later relocated to Jamaica where he started to work with the late producer Phillip “Fattis” Burell, for whom he has to date recorded his best material.

When in Jamaica he met vocalist Luciano and together they formed the jointly owned label Qabalah First Music, a label on which Mikey General has put out several albums. The latest is African Story, African Glory.

This 16 track set includes both old and new material recorded for a variety of different producers from Jamaica, Europe and the U.S.

The album offers mostly roots and culture material and includes a few gems, such as the Toussaint combination I Blaze, Innocent Blood on the haunting Sunrise Boulevard riddim and the pounding Pep in Your Step. There are however also a few disappointments, of which the synthesizer drenched Not Impossible and the Lfa Tunde combination All Over the World are the worst.

African Story, African Glory is decent album, but nothing outstanding despite some bright moments. Mikey General’s high tenor voice is also an acquired taste. His style works best in smaller doses, for example singles or combinations, such as the recently released Work with Uwe Banton or the bass heavy King Selassie I Alone for Reggaeland.

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Uwe Banton’s Mental War is a solid effort

The European reggae scene has been thriving for years and the development is mainly led by France, Germany and the UK, countries with several talented performers and producers. Both France and the UK have a large population of Caribbean descent. Germany, however, has managed to be a vital part of the European reggae scene without people coming from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago or some of the other islands where people live and breathe reggae and dancehall.

Bielefeld is a small German city known for its industries and its local university, but also for roots rasta artist Uwe Banton. Well, Bielefeld is maybe not synonymous with Uwe Banton yet, but things might change thanks to his third solo album Mental War, a 13 track set mostly produced by the singer himself and with a little help from musicians such as Moritz von Korff, who has played a important role in the development of the contemporary European reggae scene.

Mental War offers the usual rootsy European sound with influences from hip-hop, soul and ska and with lyrics dealing with faith, unity, romance and the importance of making an effort in life working and contributing to society. The latter topic is of great importance at the moment due to the debt crisis in the U.S. and parts of Europe.

Uwe Banton has also thrown in the more or less mandatory marijuana anthem. The Roots of It (Cannabis Song) is a bright and sing-a-long friendly piece where he argues why ganja should be legal.

The album collects four combinations – two with Jamaican veterans Mikey General and Luciano and two with fellow Germans Jahcoustix and Cornadoor. The duet with Jahcoustix is recorded over Dub Inc’s mighty No Doubt riddim released last year and is the strongest moment on an otherwise solid set.

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Den lyriska familjen Banton

Burro BantonArtistnamn är vanliga inom reggaen, precis som inom många andra musikgenrer. Man tar ett passande namn, dels för att det låter ballt, dels för att man går in i en annan karaktär som artist. Sedan finns naturligtvis hela anonymitetsaspekten.

Inom reggaen är det också vanligt att man tar en del av någon annans namn. Kanske för att namnet redan är inarbetat, men även för att ge respekt till en inspirerande musiker.

Den globala familjen Banton är ett tydligt exempel. Här heter familjeöverhuvudet Buro, eller under senare år, Burro.

Buro Banton inledde karriären vid mitten av 70-talet. Den självbetitlade och Henry ”Junjo” Lawes-producerade debutplattan kom 1983. Buro försvann därefter från scenen under många år men gjorde storstilad comeback på 90-talet med låtar som Boom Wah Dis och Westmoreland Sensi. Samtidigt passade han på att visa sina lärjungar var skåpet ska stå genom plattan Da Original Banton. Han är fortfarande, snart 50 år gammal, högaktuell med singlar som No Problem och Nah Drop Di Ting.

Trots att Buro Banton inte var någon av 70- eller 80-talens mest framträdande deejays satte han ändå tydliga spår. Åtminstone sex olika artister har tagit namnet Banton.

Buju Banton – mest känd i familjen – slog igenom på tidigt 90-tal och har i år skapat rubriker med nya plattan Rasta Got Soul och proteststormarna mot hans texter om våld och homofobi.

Ungefär samtidigt som Buju Banton äntrade den stora scenen kom Mega Banton. Men före dem hade brittiske artisten och lustigkurren Pato Banton gjort sig ett namn på den globala reggaearenan med hits som Pato and Roger Come Again och Don’t Sniff Coke.

I Storbritannien finns ytterligare två Bantons – Solo och Starkey, båda relativt okända även om de varit verksamma i musikbranschen i många år.

Enligt hans Myspace-sida har tyske Uwe Banton sysslat med reggae i nästan 25 år och släppt ett gäng olika plattor. Han är hyfsat okänd för mig, vilket kan bero på att delar av materialet är på tyska, ett språk som inte lämpar sig särskilt väl för bra musik.

Banton betyder enligt sajten Jukeboxalive ”…a designation bestowed upon a commander of lyrical designation”. Vackra ord som betyder något i stil med den som har de vassaste texterna.

Och det är något jag måste berömma nästan hela familjen för. Kanske inte textinnehållet i sig, men flytet och deras sätt att hantera en riddim står sig bra i konkurrensen med andra familjer.

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