COUNT OSSIE & THE MYSTIC REVELATION OF RASTAFARI
No coincidence that this appears after the recent Trojan Nyabinghi box-set and the Cedric 'Im' Brooks Light of Saba compilation on Honest Jon's, its Count Ossie's follow-up to the truly epochal three album 'Grounation' from 1975. Deeper into the mix of free-jazz, righteous rasta chant and stately binghi drum reasoning Cedric Brooks takes the arrangement credits and orator and philosopher Ras Sam Clayton not only bestows his words on the music but also provides the remarkable sleevenotes concluding sections covering on 'family planning', education about the worms that live in the human body and the 'history of marijuana' - not that any of this information is necessary to enjoy this wonderful devotional music that fits neatly with the later spiritual explorations of the Coltranes, Ayler and those that followed.
BABOON RECORDS (NO CATALGUE NUMBER)
Dub Gabriel is perhaps better known through his Qaballa Steppers incarnation, though he also appears as Baraka Orchestra and Brooklyn Massive Sound System. Teeth were gritted as the album opened up with 'Sacrifice & Bliss', a track loaded with middle-eastern wailing and Buddhist chant samples guaranteed to keep all ears pinned to the pain of the eternal cycle of rebirth, but the following track 'Celebrate' made the suffering all worthwhile. A swooningly sweet female vocal loop on top of an undulating tabla rhythm executed with a literally billowy lightness of touch - a track in search of an extended remix. And so the album continues, at best when its more daring, the murmured rap of Young Sand on 'New Sand' and 'Journey within a Journey' that descends into a Gnawa frenzy and eschews the overused Arabic vocal samples for the much more sexy oud. Enough bass-powered propulsion here to keep most nu-dubheads amused for hours.
JONAH DAN / ALPHA & OMEGA
SPIRIT OF THE ANCIENTS
A&O / INNER SANCTUARY RECORDS ISAO2004
JACKIE MITTOO & THESOUL BROTHERS
LAST TRAIN TO SKAVILLE
SOULD JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD/LP80
Not too long ago the work of Jackie Mittoo was criminally under-represented in the reissue market, but of course as a foundation member of the Skatalites his work was always there. In 1965 the Soul Brothers were the replacement Studio One house band formed from the core of the short-lived but revolutionary Skatalites. But in driving the music's revolutions from ska through to rocksteady they could still lean back on skills honed on r'n'b ('Voodoo Moon' and 'Chicken and Booze') and jazz ('Taken Ten') - a tendency that is happily evident in this compilation. In tracing their output through until 1967 as they re-emerged after a UK tour as the Soul Vendors the majority of this set marks the end of the ska era with Mittoo and old spar Roland Alphonso in control as the band experiments and beds in their newly acquired electric instruments on 'Got My Boogaloo', 'Dr. Ring Ding' and 'Hot and Cold'. An unmissable companion to their earlier Jackie Mittoo tribute.
LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY
CUTTING RAZOR: RARE CUTS FROM THE BLACK ARK
DEVON IRONS AND DOCTOR ALIMONTADO
BLACK ART TJITW006
Heartbeat add to their already impressive Perry catalogue with this selection of mainly unreleased tunes and alternate mixes from the fearless Vampire Slayer, more than just padded out by a judicious pick of contemporary classics. Although Scratch's accepted primary trademark is the gobsmacking sonics he conjured in the Black Ark, but the two tunes that emerge here as support to his legendary status are vocal group performances, an area that has been critically ignored in the analysis of the producer's output. The only release of the mysterious Sons of Light was the achingly beautiful 'Land of Love' was a plea for escape from Jamaica's boilerhouse political environment, sung in tight harmony on top of a restrained but urgent rhythm Perry punctuates with a simple organ melody in the middle eight and ends with what sounds like an elephant in pain. Equally affecting is 'Walk the Streets', an unreleased Upsetter vocal with uncredited harmonies, apparently cut as a relieved response to the 1978 Peace Treaty. Also present are two tunes from Junior Murvin's unreleased 'Police and Thieves ' follow-up and the first appearance of more early outings from Junior Delgado I whilst a member of Time Unlimited. Notes by Dave Katz complete the package.
Alternatively, for those seeking the more usual Scratch-style sonic rainbow there's a repress of the rampaging horns led cut of Devon Irons' 'Vampire' in an extended version graced by off-centre support vocals of Full Experience and a DJ outing from the all too infrequent Dr.Alimontado. The vampire been used as more than a mere motif in Perry's work throughout his career, mostly famously appearing in his attack on his former associate ex-Island boss, Chris Blackwell, providing yet more rich fare for future anthropological musings on the Upsetter's many obsessions.
RAS MICHAEL & THE SONS OF NEGUS
A WEH DEM A GO DO WID IT
Out of the blue comes this brand new album from the most commercial manifestation of the Nyabinghi style. Recorded at Mixing Lab in Jamaica and utilising Sly & Robbie, Robbie Lynn and Chinna, Ras Michael turns the trick of modernising his sound without loss of his traditional roots feel - largely through stripping down the mix and adapting classic rhythms. 'Haile Selassie Is the Chapel' is the doo-wop standard 'Crying in the Chapel' as previously versioned by the Wailers, 'No Smoke Without Fire' is Studio One staple 'Real Rock' and so it goes on. So although the album is no revelation (sic) it makes for a pleasant ride through and Wadada is in great vocal form.
FALSE TUNED FTD1
Under legal threat its original owner the man once known as Tikiman has had to renounce his chosen name and reverts to his given name and here offers the follow-up album to the set previously issued by collaborators Rhythm & Sound. As to be expected the production owes a debt to Markus and Mortiz, at least early on, but as the set develops St.Hilaire stretches and risks further experiment. The initial manifestation is a changed vocal style somewhere in Sugar Minott ('Society) and Freddie McGregor ('Picking Up') territory and at times the song structure and delivery is pure Marley ('Custody). He's at his best when he is taking more risks, as on the last track 'Changing' - hopefully an early clue to the new direction where the main rhythm is a heartbeat bass, whispered vocals match the ambience and as soon as the track seems to actually 'start', it fades. Paul St.Hilaire may prove a useful channel for those seduced by Rhythm & Sound but unpersuaded by reggae in general to be lead through to the main source.
21 R'N'B SCORCHERS - ORIGINAL JAMAICAN SOUND SYSTEM STYLE
EMI 07243 5 84736
An inspired selection of 'Big People's music' miraculously negotiated out of the EMI vaults by eminent reggae enthusiast Jeremy Collingwood, who over the past few years has been concentrating on the excellent JAD Bob Marley and the Wailers retrospective series. 'Big People' is the respectful term applied by younger Jamaicans to their elder relatives who back in the fifties were the patrons of Sound Systems such as Sir Coxone's Downbeat, King Edwards, Tom the Sebastian and V-Rockets whose proprietors competed for the hottest and sweetest r'n'b tunes from the States. So here we have Dave Bartholomew's 'The Monkey (Speaks His Mind)' and Fats Domino's ' I'm In The Mood For Love', Amos Milburn's 'One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer' and Joe Lutcher's 'Strato-Cruiser' - and seventeen more rocking and soothing tunes that were to define the routes for the growth of Jamaica's indigenous music.
RED BUMB BALL - RARE AND UNRELEASED ROCKSTEADY 1966 - 1968
PRESSURE SOUNDS CD/LP040
With this selection of tunes from Derrick Morgan's Hop label Pressure Sounds takes a refreshing step back from roots reggae into the sixties and the fleeting era of rocksteady. Derrick Morgan's career dated from the fifties starting out with Little Richard impressions, but he went on to work with Prince Buster who famously dissed him as the 'Black Head China Man' and after that Bob Marley's first producer Leslie Kong. In 1966 he employed the under-rated Trinidadian guitarist Lynn Tait, who with his band The Jets can be credited as creators of the first rocksteady tune 'Take It Easy'. The first release on Hop was Lloyd & Devon's 'Red Bum Ball', a massive hit that financed the rest of the label's output. The Black Brothers, Derrick Morgan, Roland Alphonso, The Viceroys all contribute tunes with beautiful harmonies and fine ensemble musicianship. The progressive production techniques and arrangements of the time may soon have been overtaken but this is a welcome addition to rocksteady racks that are normally dominated by Treasure Isle.
BLACK SLAVERY DAYS T.S.O.S.A.
HONEST JON'S / CLAPPERS HJRLP100/HJRCD4
After first surfacing around 1980 on Brooklyn's hardcore Clappers imprint, since when it has not been available I never thought this one would reappear after all these years. Its provenance has always been something of a mystery with the original bearing the imprint of Jack Ruby Hi Fi, most famous as the producer of Spear's 'Marcus Garvey' and follow-up material for Island. The credit is missing from this repress but the rest of the art work is identical. T.S.O.S.A. represents 'the sound of St.Ann's', Jamaican home to Spear, Jah Bob and Marcus Garvey himself. And its Winston Rodney's influence that most evident here with his brother Elias appearing as part of the vocal group the Arrows, whose 'Seek Fire' and exquisite 'Old Broom' are fine examples of sufferers' harmony at its best. The brass of Vin Gordon, Herman Marquis and Bobby Ellis ensure this is a class act the way through and old school engineer Karl Pitterson crafts four jazzy cultural dubs out of the album's ten tracks in a semi-showcase style.
'Dub Solidarity' is presented as a definitive snapshot of the contemporary global dub scene, showcasing many of the world's most established artists alongside the most promising new talent. Its also a rescue attempt for the label who were recently taken to the brink of extinction by some thoughtless litigation. The twenty-nine specially recorded cuts and donations come from UK dub pioneers the Bush Chemists, Adrian Sherwood, Henry & Louis, Digi Dub, Vibronics and Jah Warrior with contributions from newer artists Dubclash, Etherealites, Mungo's Hi-Fi, Alien Dread and Unitone Soundimentional. Other UK efforts from Urban Dub, Nucleus Roots and Zion Train who have all established themselves with their live shows as well as their studio output and Iration Steppas, Twilight Circus and the Rootsman who are inextricably linked to Sound Systems with reputations that are established and deserved. Dub from around the world is also represented by Echo Flower System & Trial Production (Japan), Infantry Rockers & Sound Imperium (USA), AB-10 (Finland), Brain Damage, Djins, Sism-X & Dubwiser (France), Cultural Warriors (Switzerland) and Echo Pilot (Canada). All this means a nu-dub primer second to none.