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Reggae

Hollie Cook: "Instrumentals"

I love Hollie Cook's debut album (see last riddim), just as I actually love all of Prince Fatty's great retro productions. But although Cook's songs are really nice, I would have been older Dub-Connaisseur don't mind using them as instrumental DubVersions to hear. Lo and behold: The mighty Prince Fatty seems to have heard my secret wish - at least partially - because he recently put the album "Hollie Cook Instrumentals" (Mr. Bongo) on the iTunes store. None Dubs - unfortunately - but the pure instrumental version. Still beautiful, very beautiful in fact - and the hope for one Dub-Remake also remains. The only thing not nice is the sloppy cut of the tracks "Sugar Water" and "Shadow Kissing", which brutally robs them of the fade-out.

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Reggae Review

Dubmatix: Clash Of The Titans

I can't help but Dubmatix is ​​my hero. I'm totally into his productions - and especially his Dub-Productions. When his album "System Shakedown" came out last year, on which he almost exclusively presented vocal tracks, he consoled me with the prospect of the "System Shakedown" remixes, which are now finally under the title "Clash Of The Titans" ( Collision / Irie Ites) have appeared. The lineup of remix artists reads like a who's who Dub- Art: G. Corp, Zion Train, Victor Rice, Nate Wize, Alldub, Vibronics, Felix Wolter - to name just a few. They offer us the complete spectrum of the pure Dub-Mix up to completely new instrumentation, from roots to jungle, Dubstep and technoid sounds to global sounds. Compared to "System Shakedown", the Clash of the Titans is much more electronic, dubBigger and more experimental, which - in my ears - makes things even more interesting. A good example of what happens on “Clash Of The Titans” is the track “Struggle” (feat. Dennis Alcapone). in the Dubmix-original it is a massive stepper with eighty percent vocal content. A powerful, dubbig song with clear references to the UKDub. There are two versions of the piece on the remix album. One is from Dubmatix himself, who really pushed the tube here and accelerated the fast steppers beat by adding more drum tracks. The sound sounds fatter (which could be due to the better mastering) and the part is now a real one (despite Alcapone's vocals) Dub-Piece become. Al goes one betterdubb, which provides the second cut of the piece here. If his Dubstep wobble bass sets in, then there is right to be concern about the state of health of the woofers. The Berlin producer and Dub-Mixer did exactly what Remix (and Dub) in the real sense is: namely the uncompromising concentration on the pure form. He took her to extremes here. The remix has to go beyond the original per se, has to surpass it in at least one respect, has to resort to extreme means in order to have a right to exist. And since this is the case consistently on “Clash Of The Titans”, I swing myself to the conclusion that the “System Shakedown” remix album is actually even better than the original.

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Reggae Review

10 Ft. Ganja Plant: "Shake Up The Place"

Who is behind 10 Ft. Ganja Plant? As if it were a real ganja plantation, the actors remain largely anonymous. So much is known: The band started in 2000 as a side project of the band "John Brown's Body", is based in Boston and specializes in the Dub-Sound of the 70s. Now the band presents their seventh album "Shake Up The Place" (Roir) and takes us back to the decade when the Dub bloomed like ripe ganja plants on the plantations. The new work is quite unspectacular and offers - contrary to the title suggests - well-groomed, classic Dubs and vocal tracks (sometimes as a showcase mix), light and airy, hand-played and classically arranged, very pleasant and relaxed. The songs (here you can hear Sylford Walker and Prince Jazzbo among others) are beautifully melodious, some of them pick up on well-known melody fragments and copy the sound of the great vocal harmony trios of Jamaica amazingly perfectly. Choice!

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Reggae Review

Various: Invasion of the Mysteron Killer Sounds

Usually little attention is paid to the backings of modern dancehall productions. Version excursion maniacs know them all, but only in order to be able to string various vowel versions together. As instrumental pieces, they are insignificant. In my collection you can find z. B. only one lonely Greensleeves release ("The Biggest Rhythms") from 2004, which is dedicated to digital dancehall rhythms as instrumental versions. The lack of interest in these productions is not surprising, because many of them are little more than minimal loops, soulless staccato beats that cannot survive as instrumentals. Stuart Baker from Soul Jazz Records has now set himself the task of bringing together those productions that have their own musical quality and are more than stupid logic sequences. In order to tie this collection to the present day of British music (and thus to document its musical historical relevance), Baker came up with the idea of ​​adding UK producers such as Harmonic 313, Diplo, Roots Manuva, South Rakkas Crew and The Bug to the Jamaican productions, i.e. all productions that (largely) originated outside of the reggae cosmos. As chief curator, the soul jazz manager named Kevin Martin engaged the music, which is unclassifiable under the name "The Bug", somewhere between dancehall, Dubstep and grime, produced. The two carried 35 tracks together and pressed them onto a double CD. From the Jamaica faction, producers such as Steely & Clevie, Lenky, Fat Eyes, Firehouse Crew, Ward 21 and Dave Kelly are represented. Even veterans like King Tubby, Computer Paul or Prince Jazzbo are there with their digital productions from the 1980s and 90s. It all sounds pretty good on paper and you have to admit that soul jazz has discovered an innovative topic here with a lot of instinct. But how does it actually sound? Well, let's say: interesting. There are undoubtedly great productions like “Diwali” by Lenky or “Sign Rhythm” by Andre Gray, which can convince with either a wonderfully catchy melody or a brilliantly intricate rhythm. But there are also all-too-simple loops that can hardly be called “productions”. Pure F music, the only quality of which is that it was not produced for use in elevators, but for dancehall. "Dub“In the narrower sense, there is very little here, because mostly the rhythms come from the B-sides of the singles and run without them Dubmix stubbornly. So is soul jazz causing a lot of marketing fuss about trivial music or did Baker and Martin discover something whose value had previously remained unrecognized, although everyone was always aware of it? Unfortunately, everyone has to answer this question for themselves. And that is precisely the real achievement of the compilation: it enables us to pursue this question by making the material available to us in a bundled form, thus allowing us to listen carefully and to draw attention to what is always right or right Injustice was relegated to the background.

 

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Reggae Review

Blue Riddim Band, "Tribute"

I have the hard impression that American bands are slowly getting better. What does that make me suspect? "Tribute" (Rougher Records, Download or about the German sales), the Blue Riddim Band! Instead of dedicating themselves to roots reggae, as almost all other US reggae bands play it (and that mostly with a blatant groove deficit), the eight musicians dedicate their tribute to the originators of Jamaican music, Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid. In addition, they simply reinterpreted their favorite songs from the era of Ska, Rocksteady and early reggae and then performed them through the instrumental Dubwolf turned. What came out of it sounds damn authentic. "Love Without Feeling" by the Heptones, "Only A Smile" by the Paragons, "Baba Boom" by the Jamaicans or "Fatty Fatty" by the Heptones sound in a sound carried by brass, decorated with an organ and fired by airy drums. You can almost hear the cracking of old vinyl records. Even the Dub-Effects sound kind of like Studio One. So of course you can ask yourself why you should listen to a US remake instead of the original. The simple answer could be: Because the remake is a hell of a lot of fun.

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Reggae Review

Fabriclive. 54: David Rodigan

Fabric Nightclub is located in north London, and has been perhaps the most progressive club in what is perhaps the most musically progressive city of the planet for years. You can hear cutting-egdge music here, always at the forefront of the musical underground, somewhere in the spectrum between house, techno, electro, drum & bass, Dubstep and Future Bass. Here on Fridays the hottest DJs pick up the pickup and play gigs that we in Germany only dream of. To accompany the club nights, Fabric brings out the CD series "Fabriclive", the releases of which are curated by one of the guest DJs. And now guess who compiled Vol. 54? None less than all of us David Rodigan! "I deliberately avoided the obvious tracks which have appeared repeatedly on reggae compilation albums over the years. fabric, the club, and fabric the record label, is at the cutting edge of music and so I wanted to uphold that legacy with my album “, the master comments on his work and I can only agree with him: His selection is great (even if it offers nothing new to reggae fans). Rodigan's concept is simple and captivating: he cleverly mixes classic recordings with new productions (which often relate to one another over decades) and gives the ignorant at least an inkling of the meanwhile fifty-year history of Reggae (when looking at them, Dubstep disciples are likely to pale). I was particularly surprised that Rodigan even had several DubPieces presented - apparently no problem with the open-minded Fabric audience. Another surprise was Rodigan's preference for one drop reggae: there are only two dancehall productions among the 20 tracks - but I know Rodigan Live differently. There is more information here (and a cool pic of Rodigan): http://www.fabriclondon.com/label/fabriclive/54/

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Reggae Review

Fat Freddy's Drop: Live At Roundhouse

Fat Freddy's Drop are definitely one of the most interesting reggae bands on the globe according to my taste at the moment, which is simply due to the very idiosyncratic, hardly classifiable style of the New Zealanders. In the lowest BPM speed range you cross a puzzling landscape, where the ground comes from Dub, the mountains are reggae, the trees are jazz and the sky is soul. Perhaps it is even an underwater landscape through which fat Freddy, with lead-weighted shoes, trudges in slow motion. The sound is dampened by the water and turns into a dark rumble, while slowly rising air bubbles release voices and sounds. Yes, that is a beautiful picture. If you mentally transport it into the unique world of New Zealand, you get an idea of ​​what Fat Freddy's Drop is all about. And now let's do another thought experiment by imagining that we're not enjoying this sluggish, casual, heavy sound in 4-5-minute bites, but in a continuum of 10 minutes and up. Because that's the quality of "Live At Roundhouse" (The Drop / Rough Trade), a concert recording from December 2008, in which we can listen to the seven-piece band improvising a song for 15 minutes or more. That this is the real, authentic and only true Fat Freddy's Drop experience hardly needs to be mentioned (especially if you were allowed to experience it live). The then unheard material served a year later as the basis for the album “Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW ". So we mainly hear pieces from this album, which is known to have deviated a bit from the reggae foundation of its predecessor. Still: I'm thrilled.

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Reggae

Gappy Ranks: Put The Stereo On

I usually listen to a new album two or three times and then new material attracts my attention. But the new album by Gappy Ranks, "Put The Stereo On" (Greensleeves / Groove Attack) turns this practice on its head. I have now listened to it 10 to 20 times while new CDs are sealed on my desk. What a nice album! Produced by Peckings brothers Chris and Duke Price, who were also responsible for Bitty McLean's “On Bond Street”. While for McLean they only resorted to old original Treasure Isle rhythms (they are allowed to do so due to ancient license agreements between Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd and father Price), Gappy Ranks mainly uses Studio One productions - and we can do more find that what Coxsone has practiced all his life, namely to recycle his recordings from the 1960s and 70s and thus constantly produce new hits, still works. Perhaps it is the greatness of this music that inspires the singers to write beautiful songs again and again. In any case, Mr. Ranks is no exception and offers us (especially in the first half of the album) a couple of great retro songs, where you inevitably feel transported back to the golden days of reggae (and secretly ashamed that you - like all the old rock men - still loves the music of their own youth). I cannot praise the album highly enough. To my liking, it's even better than the heavenly-acclaimed McLean album "On Bond Street," which, to be honest, was a bit too sappy for me. But since we are here in England, a few Lovers Rock songs should not be missing from Gappy Ranks - and as the press information reports, the Oberschnulz song “Heaven In Her Eyes” was number one in British reggae for 13 weeks -Charts. But if that's the price to be paid to enjoy the rest of the album, then I'll pay it with pleasure.

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Reggae

The best of the last few weeks

In the last few weeks I have had many good albums that all have one thing in common: They don't contain any Dubs. But lately it doesn't matter anymore, which is why I honor the best here and now. Let's start with the new album by Famara: "The Sound Of Famara" (famara.ch). I heard about the Swiss for the first time two years ago. At that time he presented his album “Oreba”, which I liked very much, although I am not a friend of African reggae per se. This is exactly what the alpine boy plays: reggae as it is produced in Africa. Lighter, faster, more percussive than the Jamaican original. Famara manages this style perfectly, but what makes his music remarkable are his very beautiful melodies. Seemingly effortlessly he lines up one catchy tune after the other. While some Jamaican stars struggle unsuccessfully for inspiration in the studio, Famara seems to gush out of the pen by itself. “The Sound Of Famara” looks back on the twelve-year career of the “Basel Reggae Bird of Paradise” (press release) and presents us with his greatest hits and older, but previously unreleased songs, as well as two newly recorded tracks with the help of the Scrucialists. Everything is very nice - and as I said: melodious. For the next 12 years!

Speaking of Africa and ideas: "United States Of Africa" (VP) is the name of the new album by Luciano and is a perfect example of a good album, which could have used more ideas. The rhythms, recorded by Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser, Steven "Lenky" Marsden, Robbie Lynn and Mafia & Fluxy and produced by veteran Frenchie, are without exception very good and make the album's real attraction. But for the most part, Luciano's songs sound a bit uninspired. Luciano has his strongest moments when he sings a wonderful remake of "Only A Smile" by the Paragons or reinterprets Ini Kamoze's hit riddim "World A Music" - when he can use good song ideas from others. The result was a beautiful, but not particularly original album that definitely could have been more.

As is well known, there is a lot in the annual VP Gold Samplers. Suitable for the World Cup (and therefore already totally outdated) is logical "Reggae Gold 2010" published. Four girls in fantasy soccer jerseys pose on the cover: Japan, England, America and, of course, Jamaica, which would be wonderfully addressing VP's main sales markets (while they had very little to report in terms of their soccer competence at this World Cup). In contrast, the sampler has a lot to offer, namely veritable reggae hits like “Hold You” by Gyptian, “As We Enter” by Nas & Damian Marley, or “Skip To Ma Luu” by Serani & Ding Dong. I hardly paid any attention to the sampler from 2009 because of its unworthy content, but 2010 is a real surprise. According to my taste it contains really good material - also for reggae friends who have outgrown hardcore dancehall. But maybe Dancehall is changing and gaining more independence compared to Hip Hop and R, n 'B. That would be nice.

And another album from VP: "Romain Virgo" (VP) by Roman Virgo. It's great evidence of the puzzling phenomenon that pop music sounds somehow the same in every genre. There seems to be such a thing as a meta-style “Schlager” that exists independently of all stylistic features of a genre. Unfortunately there is also reggae and in the worst case it sounds like the first half of Roman Virgo's album. With the new edition of the “Baylon Boops” riddim, however, the music changes to soft but beautiful reggae halfway through the album (only the last song then functions as a gruesome thrower). But is a good half an album reason enough to buy a whole one?

On the other hand, I really enjoy the one riddim sampler "Kokoo Riddim" (Rootdown), which presents the pretty, funny, lively, light, melodious, bouncing ska riddim produced by Teka and sung about by Jaqee in 17 versions. Almost all the performers (including Louie Culture, Antony B, Nosliw, Slonesta, Maxim) came up with really good songs to the ska beat. Rarely heard such a varied album ;-)

In the last few years I've always avoided dancehall, but now I have to say that the new album is me "DOB" (VP) from Busy signal pretty much like it. Is something wrong with me? Or is there something wrong with the dancehall sound of Busy Signal? I think the latter is the case, because Dancehall as a sub-form of Hip Hop only offers Busy Signal in the songs "My Money" and "Yes Dawg". To compensate for this, we get to hear real salsa with “Busy Latino” while “Picante” reanimates the Pocoman style of the 1990s and with “HiGrade” an extremely nice remake of the Stalag riddim is presented. “Opera”, on the other hand, is a terrific minimalist work that consists of just a few cello strings. And to fill the bag, Mr. Signal even offers us with “One More Night” a wonderful and not a bit poky lovers track. So, while listening consciously, I am impressed by how versatile, how exciting and, last but not least, how beautiful the album is. I think I'm going to become a fan of Busy Signal.

I was eagerly awaiting the last chapter of the “Reggae Anthology” (17 North Parade / VP), which is on the double CD "The Definitive Collection Of Federal Records (1964-1982)" the label of the same name and the man behind it, Mr. Ken Khouri. Khouri had already been producing Mento records in the 1950s. In 1960 he bought a piece of land in Kingston and founded his studio and pressing plant "Federal Records" there. Driven by the vision of real music in Jamaicaindustry he began to record ska, later rocksteady and then reggae - always in a very commercial way of playing. It was an important pillar of his business z. B.To cover hits from other producers in a more "pleasing" way and then sell the records in the Caribbean. Especially with the productions from the 1970s, the commercial orientation aimed at an international audience becomes abundantly clear. That makes the double CD - although it is an important historical documentation - largely inedible. In 1981, Ken Khouri sold his studio and press shop to the Bob Marley clan, who renamed the complex Tuff Gong.

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Reggae

Rocksteady - The Roots Of Reggae

In the next few days the film "Rocksteady - The Roots Of Reggae“Premiere in Germany. I looked at it beforehand, not least because I was really excited to see if a good documentary about the music of Jamaica would finally be made. My DVD shelf is full of them dubMost popular films about reggae, mostly amateurish attempts to pay homage to reggae instead of explaining it. The only glorious exception is the BBC documentary “Reggae: The Story Of Jamaican Music”, a two-hour foray into reggae history with great footage from all the decades of our favorite music's short existence, with very precise voice-over and beautiful interviews. But now there is: "Rocksteady - The Roots Of Reggae" and the BBC documentary doesn't exactly get competition on my shelf, but a good addition. In contrast to the BBC, director Stascha Bader's interest is not so much in the accurate communication of historical facts, but rather in the people who breathed life into rock steady in the mid to late 1960s. And it is precisely in this respect that “Rocksteady - The Roots Of Reggae” sometimes seems like a copy of “Buena Vista Social Club”. Here as there, the camera circles the aged musicians, shows them in the studio and on the stage, feasts on their furrowed faces and, with a mischievous wink, shows the old warriors in poses that viewers are normally used to from young stars. And something else inevitably makes me think of Wim Wenders original: We see a Jamaica that, like Cuba, got stuck in the middle of the last century. We see romantically dilapidated places, picturesque ruins of old theaters, places of innocent dancing pleasure, which can resurrect a Jamaica before the fall of man. These are the places where the Rocksteady veterans stand, reminisce about a better time and sing a song. Well, innovative cinema is something different ten years after “Buena Vista Social Club”. But as a friend of reggae's “golden age”, namely the rocksteady era, one likes to overlook the overly conventional form of the film and is happy, Gladstone Anderson, Ken Boothe, Stranger Cole, Marcia Griffith, Rita Marley, Derrik Morgan, Judy To watch Mowatt, Dawn Penn, Leroy Sibbles and many other musicians make music. It never gets boring, because Stascha Bader develops an entertaining dramaturgy through the variety of studio scenes, interviews with the artists (often recorded in their amazingly petty-bourgeois furnished houses), documentary street scenes and footage from the 1960s, an entertaining dramaturgy that the film makes it very entertaining. Equally entertaining are the superbly produced and recorded songs, even if Stascha Bader unfortunately (but understandably) opted for the absolute "mega hits" of Rocksteady, which one is actually a bit tired of. But it doesn't matter. That's all complaining at the highest level. For a reggae documentary, “Rocksteady” is a really great success and a godsend for every reggae connoisseur.