Roman Stewart: Give Thanks 'Showcase'

Although he more than deserved it, he was never in the forefront of successful Jamaican singers. For this reason, information about him is very sparse. Nevertheless, I venture a thesis: Without Roman Stewart there would have been no Dennis Brown. As you can read in the relevant literature, Roman taught Dennis how to sing. The vocal similarities are indeed striking, close your eyes and listen. Who do you hear? No, not the young Dennis Brown, but Roman Stewart with a “lost” album. Quite apart from the fact that “Roman Stewart: Give Thanks 'Showcase' “ (Thompson Sound) was never conceived as an album. Some titles were released as singles or maxi singles by Linval Thompson on his Thompson Sound label in 1979 and have never been available again since then. There are also three unreleased and completely new tracks and their Dub-Versions to be heard: Give Thanks, Give Thanks Dub, I'm In A Bad Mood, I'm In A Bad Mood Dub, Hello Baby and Hello Baby Dub.

Roman Stewart, born in 1957, started his career as a small boy on the street and at the pier where the cruise ships docked. There he sang for the tourists, and his friend Freddie McGregor collected the money that people were willing to give. Roman was just 1968 years old in 11 when he recorded his first recording, While I Was Walking, as Romeo Stewart And The Tennors With Tommy McCook And The Supersonics. In 1974, Roman had his first hit “Hooray Festival”. A song written by his older brother Neville aka Tinga Stewart and Willie Lindo. After his first breakthrough, he achieved another success in 1976 with “Hit Song,” produced by Tommy Cowan.
On the whole, the early 1970s were a successful time for Roman. He began recording new songs for well-known producers such as Glen Brown (Never Too Young), Derrick Harriott (Changing Times), Everton Da Silva (Rice & Peas), Phil Pratt (Fire At Your Heel) and Linval Thompson. Although he emigrated to the USA in 1976, he always maintained close contact with his home country and continued to make numerous recordings there. It is said that “Rice and Peas” is his best-known song, which he also recorded for Linval Thompson in 1979. In total, he recorded more than 70 singles and a good handful of albums and was able to look back on a career that spanned more than 30 years. On January 25, 2004, Roman aka Romeo or Romie Stewart died of a heart attack at the age of just 46. The previous evening he had attended a concert by his good old friend Freddie McGregor. Afterwards, Roman went to a birthday party, where he sang two more songs. When Roman wanted to sing his third song, he reportedly turned off the microphone and complained of chest pain. He later collapsed and was taken to hospital, where he remained in a coma and died the next day.

Over twenty years after this tragic event, Linval Thompson comes around the corner with the tapes that were believed to be lost. Roman Stewart's vocals and the Roots Radics Band's powerful riddims were recorded at the Hookim Brothers' Channel One Recording Studio on Maxfield Avenue in West Kingston, Jamaica. As mentioned, Linval Thompson found the original tapes and commissioned Roberto Sánchez to remix them at his A-Lone Ark Muzik Studio in Santander, Spain. Thanks to the expert preservation of the vintage analog sound, the listener feels transported back to the early dancehall era. The powerful title track “Give Thanks” is a classic roots song that has never been released before. The track and his Dub-Pendant offer a fantastic, bass-heavy riddim. With “Baby Come Back,” Roman Stewart turns to a love song. The song was originally recorded in England as 12? Vinyl released by Cool Rockers, a short-lived offshoot of Greensleeves Records that focused on lovers rock. The Revolutionaires were named as the accompanying band. He clearly shows that Roman is at home in both the roots and lovers sections of reggae. “Mr. Officer” is a play about the problems that come with possessing the green herb (Herb, Lambsbread, Ganja, Kaya, Collie). The remaining tracks on this LP deal more with matters of the heart, particularly issues that lead to complications in relationships. Each track has its own merits and is worth listening to more than once. Roman Stewart shines vocally on every piece, including the heavy ones Dubs by Roberto Sánchez are a real pleasure to listen to. Once again he has Dubmaster from northern Spain demonstrates that he is experienced enough to create a contemporary album from historical recordings with the classic sound of the golden age of reggae.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Linval Thompson Meets Roberto Sanchez At The Ark: Marijuana Sessions In Dub

The album released in 1978 “I love marijuana“ was Linval Thompson’s first self-produced album. Vocally, Linval Thompson was at the peak of his abilities in 1978. His vocal range and self-confident demeanor – not unlike that of Ken Boothe – made him as engaging as the American soul singers who inspired quite a few young Jamaican singers in the 60s and 70s. The success of his hit single “I Love Marijuana” was followed by the LP of the same name and with it some of the best songs of his career. There are mutliple reasons for this. On the one hand, Thompson brought some extremely strong pieces with him to the Hookim brothers' Channel One studio, and on the other hand, he had one of Jamaica's best bands, The Revolutionaries, at his side. We hear Aston Barrett or Robbie Shakespeare on bass, Horsemouth Wallace or Sly Dunbar on drums, Ossie Hibbert on organ, followed by Ansel Collins on piano. The guitar was plucked by Earl Stanley Smith, better known as “Chinna” Smith. The end result was an extremely sophisticated LP of late 'XNUMXs reggae. On the album, the warmth and romance of Rock Steady meets the hard-hitting sound of the then-burgeoning Natty Roots scene. The original LP only had the last track as a treat Dub, “Jamaican Colley (Version)”, a Dub-version of the title track. Although the engineer was not named, there are indications that either Tubby himself, Philip Smart or Prince Jammy were at the controls. In addition to the title track, the album's highlights include the funky "Dread are the Controller" and Ken Boothe's enigmatically contradictory 1969 Studio 1 classic "Just Another Girl." U-Roy's Tony Robinson-produced 1975 album "Dread in a Babylon” also features a fantastic toast from “Just Another Girl” called “Runaway Girl”.
Since then, Linval Thompson has also made a name for himself as a producer, releasing work with and by Dennis Brown, Barrington Levy, The Viceroys, Revolutionaries, Scientist and countless other artists.

Now let’s get to “Linval Thompson meets Roberto Sanchez At The Ark: Marijuana Sessions In Dub(A-LONE PRODUCTIONS). Linval Thompson, who has repeatedly worked with the Spanish musician, sound engineer and producer Roberto Sanchez in recent years, provided Roberto Sanchez with the original tapes to create an equally brilliant album Dub-Make an album. And what the two of them put together in the A-Lone Ark Studio in Santander, northern Spain, is worth listening to. We know of many examples in which such an undertaking went brutally wrong, to say the least. But far from it, Roberto Sanchez and Linval Thompson have effortlessly managed to transfer a classic into the present day. The result is a timeless one Dub-Album with wonderful basslines à la Aston 'Familyman' Barrett, fat riddims and free-floating song fragments by Linval Thompson, which actually sounds as if it was created in the heyday of reggae. What else is there to complain about? Given the fact that the demand for reggae classics continues to rise steadily, Sanchez and Thompson can only be congratulated on this result and exclaim: “Well done men, I like it very much!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The album will also be released as a record on May 24.05.2024th, XNUMX.

Five Star Review

Roots Architects: From Then 'Til Now

What wonderful musical legacy is presented to us here? An album that basically began in 1978, developed further as a brainchild and was put into practice in 2017, finally finding its completion with the release in 2024. But first everything in order.

The cover image of “Roots Architects: From Then 'Til Now“ (Fruits Records) shows a typical street scene in Kingston. Dogs eat discarded leftover food from the sidewalk. A young woman in the background stares suspiciously at the viewer. Older men sit on a bench and look with infinite patience at the dusty street while a grizzled, bearded gentleman with a walking stick approaches us. A normal day in Jamaica.

When we look at the history of reggae, it is usually told through singers, producers and sound systems. A singer or toaster was hired to sing or chant over a pre-existing rhythm. The producer paid the recording costs and tested the song at a dance to see if it could become a hit. In the 1970s, when reggae was deconstructed and transformed into its avant-garde offshoot Dub was transformed, the sound engineers who used their studios as instruments became more and more of a focus. The dedicated studio musicians who produced the actual rhythms are often overlooked. Except perhaps from a few aficionados who always kept an eye on the instrumentalists involved.

The Jamaican-Chinese roots reggae singer I Kong - aka Errol Kong, nephew of the legendary Leslie Kong - released the LP "The Way It Is” with a unique line-up that included almost all of the island’s leading session musicians. Although the album received critical acclaim, it flopped financially, and I Kong went into self-imposed musical exile in the countryside. In the early 2010s he was contacted by Swiss producer and vintage reggae lover Mathias Liengme. Liengme became friends with Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace in 2011. Many people will know “Horsemouth” from the Rockers film and as the drummer on the early Burning Spear recordings. Some time later, Liengme found himself in Jamaica, where he welcomed the living legends of the golden reggae era that had made the country and reggae world famous. Through I Kong, Liengme met Robbie Lyn. Robbie Lyn had played keyboards on The Way It Is and hundreds of other famous Jamaican recordings. After working together on I Kong's long-awaited album "A Little WalkLiengme turned to Lyn for his ambitious project. Robbie Lyn opened his address book, opened up his connections and the ambitious project took shape. The work of the Swiss pianist and producer Mathias Liengme is a true meeting of veterans. In February and March 2017, Mathias Liengme traveled to Kingston for the fifth time to honor the musicians who delighted his ears since his youth and led him to write a doctoral thesis on Jamaican music. He wanted to record with as many of the surviving veteran session musicians as possible. With the help of some of them such as Robbie Lyn, Fil Callender or Dalton Browne, he managed to bring together more than 50 musicians aged 54 to 85 for nine instrumental songs. Fifty of the greatest studio musicians in Jamaica's history, whose work spans from the beginnings of reggae in the late 1960s to the present day and who contributed to reggae's international success. This great instrumental album is a tribute to the unsung heroes who created all of these amazing riddims. The names alone speak for themselves: Ernest Ranglin, Sly & Robbie, Karl Bryan, Vin Gordon, Glen DaCosta, Robbie Lyn, Ansel Collins, Dougie Bryan, Mao Chung, Boris Gardiner, Jackie Jackson, Lloyd Parks, Bo Pee, Dalton Browne, Flabba Holt, Fil Callender, Mikey Boo, Barnabas, Horsemouth, Dean Fraser, Ibo Cooper, Cat Coore, Derrick Stewart, Dwight Pinkney, Bubbler, Lew Chan, etc… They are all responsible for thousands of hours of recording and millions of minutes recorded by heard by music lovers around the world.

So the Roots Architects, the legends of reggae, have returned to the studios in Kingston to do what they always did best: make instrumental music together. The result is a great album that is essential for all lovers of Jamaican music, instrumental reggae or simply beautiful music. “From Then ‘Til Now” is to musicians what “Inna de Yard” is to singers. Plain and simple, a tribute to the greats. But unfortunately, “From Then ‘Til Now” has now become a kind of epitaph for the musicians who have died since it was recorded in 2017. Winston "Bo Pee" Bowen, the album's namesake, died of a fatal heart attack on March 26, 2019 at the age of 62. Arnold Brackenridge died of prostate cancer on October 7, 2020 at the age of 70. David Trail died at an unknown date this year. Dalton Browne was 70 years old, the same age as Bo Pee, when he died on November 1, 2021. Bongo Joe died at the age of 86 on September 5, 2021. Mikey Boo, whose drumming was impaired by a stroke and subsequent dementia, died on November 28, 2021 at the age of 74. Just ten days later, Robbie Lyn's good friend Robbie Shakespeare succumbed to kidney surgery at the age of 68. He was followed that same month by 71-year-old Mikey Chung. The project's youngest musician, bassist Christoper Meredith, died on July 27, 2022 at the age of just 54. After a series of health complications, Lyn's beloved "big brother" and former bandleader Fil Callender passed away on May 27, 2022 at the age of 75. Robbie's keyboard colleague and close friend Tyrone Downie died in a hospital in Jamaica on November 5, 2022 at the age of 66. Her keyboard colleague Ibo Cooper died on October 12, 2023 at the age of 71.

May they all rest in peace as their immortal music shakes speakers, bodies and souls for an infinite number of dances in the future.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I dedicate this review to my dear friend Endi (Palatinate for Andi), who left for the realm of the ancestors after a long illness. Like the heroes mentioned above, he has not left us, but rather before us.


The Aggrovators & The Revolutionaries: Guerrilla Dub (Re Release)

Ok, as I can see from the comments in the release radar, there are still a few questions unanswered about this album, which I would like to use as an opportunity to shed a little more light on it. Quite apart from the fact that Burning Sounds maintains the misinformation they started in 1978, such as the name The Aggravators being misspelled, there are also false statements about the studio in which the bands are said to have recorded the riddims. Contrary to what is stated on the cover, the tracks were never recorded in King Tubby's studio. The tracks were recorded at the Hookim Brothers' Channel One and at the Harry J Studio. Later the tracks were mixed by Oswald 'Ossie' Hibbert in King Tubby's much smaller studio, which, as we already know from Helmut Philipps, was more brilliant Dub Conference know, was only used for the soundtrack and the mix.

So, Burning Sounds has the album “The Aggravators (The Aggrovators) & The Revolutionaries: Guerrilla Dub“ was reissued on the occasion of this year’s Record Store Day (RSD). Originally it was guerrilla Dub Released in 1978 by the British record company on transparent vinyl, in 2016 the 10-track album was reissued on CD and 180 gram vinyl LP. Now, on the occasion of the RSD, the LP has been released again, this time as a red-colored vinyl LP.

The Aggrovators are named after Bunny 'Striker' Lee's record store Agro Sounds. In the 1970s and 1980s the band, with a constantly changing line-up, was the most important session band for 'Striker'. During the same period, The Revolutionaries were the house band at Channel One Studio. As previously mentioned, the line-up of both bands changed frequently, with Bunny Lee and the Hookims retaining the band name for the musicians they were currently working with. Musicians like Aston & Carlton Barrett, Sly & Robbie, Bertram McLean, Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis, Vin Gordon, Ossie Hibbert, Earl “Chinna” Smith etc. played in both bands at times.

Now let’s get to “Guerrilla Dub“, which also featured almost the entire crème de la crème of the Jamaican music scene at the time. As an example, I'll just stick with the riddim sections: On bass we hear Aston Barrett, Robbie Shakespeare, George 'Fully' Fullwood, Bertram 'Ranchie' McLean, Lloyd 'Sparks' Parks and Earl 'Bagga' Walker and on drums: Carlton Barrett, Lowell 'Sly' Dunbar, Lloyd 'Tin Leg' Adams, Basil 'Benbow' Creary and Carlton 'Santa' Davis. The “Guerrilla Dub“contains Dub-Counterparts of Jimmy Riley's late 70's LPs "Majority Rule", "Showcase" and "Tell The Youths The Truth", some of which were previously released as 7 inch singles in Jamaica. Thanks to a few vocal snippets included in most tracks, it is relatively easy for the listener to associate them with the original vocal recordings. The journey into the Dub starts with “Cuddoe Dub“, a nice rockers-style riddim with subtle organ parts. What follows is the captivating “Garvey Dub", the Dub-Counterpart to Jimmy Riley's title track on the "Majority Rule" LP. The “Garvey Dub” is also known as “The Conqueror” by The Revolutionaries, albeit mixed differently. “Paul Bogle Dub" is a version of Jimmy Riley's hit "Nyah-Bingi", which can be heard on his "Showcase" LP and which is "Malcolm X Dub" is the Dub to the vocal cut “A You”, which can also be found on the “Showcase” LP. The A-side is rounded off with “Martin Luther Dub", a remix of Alton Ellis' "Can I Change My Mind" riddim. The B-side of the record features the same sort of classically beautiful Ossie Hibbert Dubs. The most notable contributions include the title track “Guerrilla Duband “Maroon Dub", a version of "Cleaning Up The Streets" which was a huge hit for Jimmy Riley in the 1970s.

Even if the Ossie Hibbert Dubs on “Guerrilla Dub“ are no longer the absolute icing on the cake today, for me the musician, sound engineer and producer, who died of a heart attack in 2012, is one of the many unsung heroes of the Jamaican music scene. Some of you probably also know Crueshal from him Dub“, Leggo Duband Earthquake Dub“ – all very beautiful, energetic Dub-Works from the heyday of reggae/Dub. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun listening to this classic again.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dub Obsession W/ Aston “Familyman” Barrett

Better late than never, but I still have to say a few words about the death of this groundbreaking music legend.
On February 3, 2024, Aston Francis Barrett, better known to some as Familyman or Fams for short, died after a “long battle” with the disease. The Wailers' legendary bassist died at the age of 77 in the University of Miami Hospital in Florida, the city where Bob Marley died in 1981.

Aston Barrett was born on November 22, 1946 in Kingston, Jamaica. The fourth of five children of Wilford Barrett, a blacksmith, and Viola (née Marshall), Aston grew up in a large tenement house on Beeston Street in central Kingston, where saxophonist Val Bennett also lived. Too poor to afford a real bass, Familyman built his first bass out of a curtain rod. In the mid-1960s he joined the club band The Hippy Boys and accompanied singer Max Romeo at various performances in Kingston. Producer Bunny "Stricker" Lee was so impressed with his basslines that he brought Barrett into the studio in 1968 to record Slim Smith's "Watch This Sound" - an adaptation of the Buffalo Springfield hit "For What It's Worth." During the time that Aston Barrett was part of Lee's house band, the Aggrovators, he also released self-produced works on the Fam's and Cobra labels. The singles “Distant Drums”, “Eastern Memphis” and “Cobra Style” demonstrate a distinctive approach to instrumental music and Dub-B-sides.

His nickname “Familyman” comes from the fact that Aston viewed his fellow musicians as family and always took a leading role in arranging their collective work. The name Familyman does not come from the fact that he had many children - he told the BBC in 23 that he had 18 daughters and 2013 sons.

At the end of 1969, the Barrett brothers Aston and Carly made it into the British Top Ten with Max Romeo's raunchy "Wet Dream" and the organ instrumental "The Liquidator". Following the success of the instrumental "Return of Django", they toured the UK with the Upsetters in November, despite not playing on the record themselves. As a member of the studio band The Upsetters, Barrett provided powerful and melodic basslines that can be heard on the recordings the Wailers made for producer Lee "Scratch" Perry in 1970-71. His younger brother Carlton “Carly” Barrett played drums. The self-taught artist with an innate flair for musical arrangements and an exceptional sense of timing played an integral role in the popularity and international spread of reggae as bassist and bandleader of Bob Marley and the Wailers. When the Wailers split from Lee "Scratch" Perry to form their own label, Tuff Gong, Bob Marley persuaded the Barrett brothers to leave the Upsetters. From now on, Aston and Carly formed the rhythm section, the backbone of the Wailers. The group signed with Island Records in 1972 and the success story began. When Fams became bandleader and musical arranger during the recording of "Natty Dread" in 1973, he and his bass were the driving force for Marley's famous hymns. He gave songs like “No Woman, No Cry” the necessary heaviness.

Although the group experienced many changes during the Island years, the Barrett brothers remained the constant, the stabilizing force in the band. Familyman's confident mastery of his instrument and his skillful onstage interplay formed the backbone of the band's electrifying performances, while Marley delivered his lyrics in a trance-like state.

Aston Barrett was also an integral and important part of what emerged in the mid-1970s Dubsubgenres, and he was also a mentor to younger musicians such as keyboardist Tyrone Downie and bassist Robbie Shakespeare.

In addition to his duties with Bob Marley and the Wailers, Barrett worked on Keith Hudson's "Pick A Dub", Yabby You's debut album "Conquering Lion", Peter Tosh's "Legalize It", Bunny Wailer's "Blackheart Man", Burning Spear's groundbreaking releases "Marcus Garvey", "Dry And Heavy", Social Living and Augustus Pablo's "East Of The River Nile " with. Due to the Wailers' tours, his session work became somewhat less. It would be beyond the scope to list all the albums on which Aston's legendary Fender bass can be heard everywhere.
After Bob Marley's death, Familyman continued to record with Burning Spear (z. B. Hail HIM) and worked closely with Rita Marley for a while. On the album “Juvenile Delinquent” (1981), which he produced himself, he played most of the instruments himself.
Aston and Carlton also played on Ivorian reggae star Alpha Blondy's fantastic 1986 album Jerusalem. However, the following year Carlton was assassinated.

Familyman toured regularly with the Wailers Band until the 90s - after which his appearances became less frequent. He most recently lived in Miami and was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2021.

Finally, I chose something less known – a live reggae Dub Session with the master bassist, innovator and creator of the typical Bob Marley sound. “Dub Obsession w/ Aston “Familyman” Barrett“ (Island King Records) is an improvised, unrehearsed, rare and classic Dub Session recorded live on St. John, US Virgin Islands. In 2004, during a brief break from his endless touring schedule, Familyman met the Wailers' former house mixer, Liston Bernie, who lives on St. John. They decided to share the island with a real one Dub pampering session. The island's reggae musicians couldn't wait to perform with this legendary musician and the audience was more than thrilled. The performance was unannounced, and as word spread around the city, fans from all walks of life flocked to the once-in-a-lifetime event.
The 9 tracks with a playing time of almost 75 minutes are definitely a collector's item. Simply because Fam's famous Fender bass, with which he created so many immortal basslines, has fallen silent forever!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

aDUBta / Roots Organization: A Tale Of Dubbing Horns

The Roots organization from the Styrian capital Graz impressed me with their first EP “Strictly Recreational“. A year later, in October 2022, the album “A Tale Of Skanking Horns“ (Ginkgo Tree Music), a long player with instrumental reggae, the finest jazzy brass sections and solos, on which the Roots organization once again knew how to convince brilliantly and carried you away from the first note. Memories of the forefathers of the genre – the Skatalites – were awakened. The riddims are powerful and bursting with energy. There are also countless finely crafted brass sections with a lot of force. This sound comes into its own best when the brass instruments are used at the same time. There are really musicians at work here who masterfully understand how to create wonderful moods and tension in the Graz Stress Studio. In addition to the 8-piece band including brass, guests included Fabian Supancic on the organ (Tracks 2 & 8), Michael Leitner on the violin (Track 7) and Andreas “aDUBta” Bauer on the percussions.

With aDUBta has now come full circle, as the albums mentioned above have already been produced, mixed and mastered by him. A year and a half later, aDUBta made “A Tale Of Skanking Horns” again. Of the original ten tracks, “A Tale Of Dubbing Horns“ six of aDUBta one Dub-subjected to treatment, decelerated properly and lowered a whole corner. The mastering was done by a “certain” Umberto Echo, who is here in the Dubblog is no stranger.
In my opinion, the Roots organization has achieved its next great success. Excellently well thought out all around Dub with a lot of relaxation potential. A really excellent album, which is unfortunately far too short, as four tracks from the original album were unfortunately not includeddubbt were!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Christos DC: Kung Fu Action Theater

Christos DC is the pseudonym of Christopher Vrenios, a son of two professional opera singers from Washington DC - which immediately explains the last part of his stage name. Christopher owes his nickname Christos to his Greek grandmother. According to his mini album “Matchbox In Dub"From 2023, the Greek-American reggae musician and producer returns with a groundbreaking project "Christos DC: Kung Fu Action Theater“ (Honest Music) back. A purely instrumental project that fuses traditional Chinese instruments with roots reggae arrangements. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the use of Chinese instruments is a novelty in this genre.
In an interview, Christos DC gives two reasons why he wanted to release an instrumental album with traditional Chinese instruments. Christos DC grew up watching kung fu films and has always been fascinated by the music he listened to, which in turn led him to learn more about Chinese classical music in general. The idea of ​​fusing these two styles has been with him for many years, and the result is now “Kung Fu Action Theater.” Three classical Chinese instruments are used in "Kung Fu Action Theater": the guzheng (a half-tube zither played with the fingers), the yangqin (a Chinese dulcimer similar to a stringed instrument and played with clappers), and the erhu ( a two-stringed tubular lute that is bowed, similar to a two-stringed violin). It's hard to believe, the background is 100 percent traditional reggae, but one thing I can say without hesitation: the Chinese instruments fit somnambulistically into a wealth of creative arrangements and create a new sound that is inherently mysterious.
Two tracks from the project have already been released in advance by Christos DC: the eclectic "Mountain King", which is based on Edvard Grieg's classic stage play "In the Hall Of The Mountain King", and the hypnotic "Distance", which features Chinese instrumentation The foreground is.
Overall, the compositions, performances and production of “Kung Fu Action Theater” are of the highest quality. There is no shortage of imaginative arrangements. From the meandering, slightly melancholic basic idea of ​​"Dread And Alive" to "Far East", where the tempo and flow of the rhythmic arrangement increases. “Long Road” takes up the title of the album with a melancholic, unsettling composition, while “Mystic” has something of Steppers in it with its fast drum arrangement. "Rising Sun" is pure pleasure, "Survival" is thought-provoking, while "Swan Lake" (similar to "Mountain King") takes up and revives the song of the swans from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's classic ballet.

It is immediately noticeable that this time Christos DC has opted for a warm roots sound with brass instruments (Brian Falkowski - saxophone and Paul Hamilton - trombone). A sound that immediately reminds me of US Virigin Islands productions, and that's no coincidence, as the entire project was professionally mixed by Laurent 'Tippy I' Alfred from I Grade Records. We don't hear anything excessive Dub-Fireworks, but an excellent meditative soundscape with calmly meandering riddims without a lot of frills. With musicians like Style Scott, Flabba Holt, Kenyatta Hill, Chinese artists and many others, Christos DC ultimately did everything right and created a highly demanding work.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ronnie Lion: Spanish Town

A little over two years ago I re-released the album “Ambient Warrior: Dub Journey's“Praised in the highest tones. These wonderful soundscapes still inspire me again and again today. The versatility of this 1995 album was also extraordinary. South American elements such as tango and bossa nova could already be heard here.
Cult reissue label Isle Of Jura just released the first solo album from Ronnie Lion, one half of the aforementioned Ambient Warrior. For several decades, Ronnie Lion has been running his reggae label "Lion Music" from Brixton, which has been known for many years for its open approach to mixing reggae with countless other styles. And what a surprise, the album “Ronnie Lion: Spanish Town“ continues where “Ambient Warrior: Dub Journey's” has stopped. These well-known sounds can also be found on “Spanish Town”. “Spanish Town” is a deep, soulful nod to the capital city of St. Catherine in southeast Jamaica. The rhythm section with Ronnie Lion on bass and Horseman on drums provides a solid foundation for the complex and catchy hooks of Sean Wilkinson's Spanish guitar. Smooth, lyrical flamenco melodies from the lead guitarist are skillfully played over strolling roots and Dub-Reggae grooves laid.
The nine beautifully orchestrated instrumental pieces on “Spanish Town” seem like vague memories of a relaxing holiday by the sea. Ronnie Lion's basslines underline the warm keyboard sounds and of course Sean Wilkinson's first-class fingerpicking. The incredibly beautiful melodies between the mysterious, almost nostalgic flamenco “Hombre Peligroso” and the springy “Alligator Pond” are probably the best proof of this. However, I have to admit that in my opinion the tracks with these turgid “synth string interludes” often just miss the elevator music of a shopping center. The intoxicating skank of “Naranja Colina” alongside the seething “Grants pen Steppers” completely convince me again.

The bottom line is a very successful, varied reggae instrumental album with a very rare unique selling point, namely the Spanish guitar. An album that cleverly combines reggae & Dub combined with Spanish sounds is not only Dub- and reggae fans, but also tango, bossa nova, folk and world music lovers. You should have heard it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Awa Fall: Dub & Flames

The Italian reggae artist of Senegalese descent Awa Fall Mirone, born in Bergamo in October 1996, is back with an album. Almost a year after the release of the song album “Fire & Flames(WOW Records) now follows Dub-version “Awa Fall: Dub & Flames(WOW Records), which featured some illustrious guests – more on that later.

There has been a very lively reggae scene in Italy since the 80s. Stars like Alborosie or Africa Unite and world-famous sound systems like One Love Hi Powa are known to many, not forgetting the Rototom Festival. A rising star in the Italian reggae sky is undoubtedly Awa Fall, daughter of a Senegalese father and an Italian mother. After performing on stage with her aunt Valentina for a few years, Awa Fall decided to start her own project at the age of 18. The singer, songwriter and musician released her first album “Inna dis ya Iwa” in 2016 and went on tour with the Eazy Skankers. The second album "Words Of Wisdom“was published in January 2019. The album is a dazzling production that touches on all genres of black music, from reggae to hip-hop.
With an average of 100 concerts per year, Awa Fall has now made her music known throughout Europe and the world. She has performed on many major European stages, such as the Rototom Sunsplash in Italy, the African Festival in Germany, the Uprising in Slovakia, the Txapel in the Basque Country, etc. Awa also has a direct collaboration with the EMP PA Unite 15 school in Dakar (Senegal): for each concert she donates a percentage to the school, which enables many children, boys and girls, from primary school to high school, to receive an education.

The album is only 26 minutes long “Dub & Flames” consists of seven tracks selected from the eight original titles and, as on the varied album “Fire & Flames”, each track is characterized by its own style.
The first two tracks are »Dub Resurrection" and "Dub & Flames", which were produced by the Austrian label Anaves Music. The third track is the already well-known “I Wanna” produced by Gaudi Dub«, which was already released as a preview with the original track. »Dub Music« features the English artist Brother Culture and was created by Dub Tree produces. "Show Dub« features the Senegalese artist Ombre Zion and was produced by Nico Roccamo. The masterful »Dub for the Rights” was by Paolo Baldini DubFiles produced the track in his distinctive styledubbed, which has distinguished him for several years. The last Dub-Track of the album is »Key To Dub«, produced by Buriman, the reggae & Dub-Producers and co-founders of the Moa Anbessa project, whose Dubplates and releases were/are regularly played by top sound systems such as Jah Shaka and Aba Shanti.
All in all a very nice, modern one-drop reggae album on the one hand with a powerful steppers style on the other.
The present work was mastered by the Italian composer, musician, DJ and producer Walter Buonanno aka Walter Bonnot.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thriller featuring Augustus Pablo

The fact is: reggae visionary and pioneer Augustus Pablo was instrumental in the emergence of the burgeoning band with his unique sound Dub-Reggae scene involved. Augustus Pablo is said not to have been enthusiastic about an early album. It was released in England in 1975 on the Nationwide label and the cover read: “Thriller featuring Augustus Pablo“, produced by Enos McLeod. There have been several questionable releases of the album over the years. For all of them the “featuring” disappeared and it became “Augustus Pablo: Thriller” or “Augustus Pablo: Pablo Nuh Jester”, with a changed track order and five additional titles – which I will briefly discuss at the end. When re-released by Canadian label Abraham/Clocktower, both the album's original title and all tracks were renamed. So pay attention: “Augustus Pablo: Dubbing In A Africa” is “Thriller”.
The vinyl re-release on Black Friday (25.11.2022/1.400/25,99), made possible by ORG Music on Record Store Day (RSD), sold out XNUMX copies in the United States in a very short time, priced at $XNUMX each. With this long overdue new edition, Augustus Pablo posthumously made it into the Billboard Reggae Album Charts for the first time.

Even if Augustus Pablo had a different opinion: “Thriller” is an outstanding album that contains some of the best work by the exceptional musician and producer who died far too early outside of his joint projects with King Tubby. A work that Enos McLeod can be proud of as a producer. It is still unclear what he actually produced. In any case, he didn't produce “Last Of The Jestering”, which is clearly Leonard Chin's fault. The same goes for “Pablo Nuh Jester”, another piece with the same rhythm. Of the remaining eight tracks, “Fat Girl Jean” can definitely be marked off as Pablo’s work. The sound of the piano makes me think so, because only Pablo seems to be able to make a piano produce that sound. The melodica tracks leave no doubt about it anyway.

The A-side of the vinyl begins with the title track “Thriller,” which features a great trombone part while a super-slow bassline floats over cymbal-heavy drums.
On "Pablo in Red" Augustus' melodica takes center stage and a rock-solid bass makes its way through the speakers.
“Pablo Style” is a slow, melodica-led instrumental version of the Ken Boothe classic “Everything I Own.”
“Last of the Jestering” is a difficult one Dubversion with clanging drums, and Augustus plays the main melody just great on his melodica. Patti Smith liked to play a slightly stripped down version of the song at her concerts.
My personal favorite has always been the B-side of this collector's item. It begins with “Pablo Nuh Jester,” a much more straightforward version of “No Jestering,” a 1973 song by Carl Malcolm.
“Fat Girl Jean” follows, a booming bass and slow drums are caressed by a gentle melodica.
“Marcus Garvey” turns the old Burning Spear classic into a real treat with its much faster rhythm and Augustus Pablo inspires me every time I listen to this piano-led instrumental version.
In "Rocky Road" Augustus shows what wonderful sounds he can elicit from his melodica, while the guitar is occasionally used. Two other versions of the Burning Spear Studio One classic “Foggy Road” are called “Rocky Road” and “Skibo Rock”. In my opinion, both pieces can also be attributed to Pablo. This time due to the very pronounced clavinet/keyboard work in “Skibo Rock”. The faster, almost dancefloor-friendly “Skibo Rock” is the culmination of a long-forgotten killer album.
Like many albums from this time, the sound is a bit dull, but the bass booms and the drums rattle so incredibly beautifully. To my ears, the warm, almost gentle sound of the album creates an airy and at the same time hypnotic listening pleasure.

Note: The last five Dubs on the CD have nothing to do with “Thriller” and are credited to Lloyd Parks & We The People Band.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.