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 Suitable for the World Cup (and therefore already totally outdated) is logical "Reggae Gold 2010" published.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.