Review: Dr Ring Ding is Germany's foremost ska trombonist and vocalist. While not that well known outside the ska scene, he's released a lot of records over the years, many of which are well worth picking up. One obvious example is 2013's Kalipso Times, a tasty four-track 10" that has now been given the reissue treatment. Recorded with a vast array of musicians, it's an effortlessly joyful and entertaining affair that sees him fuse his usual reggae and ska influences with nods to rhythm & blues (cheeky opener 'The Cat & The Rooster') and - more obviously - calypso. The latter inspiration is most potently explored on 'Obeah Wedding', which comes on like a long-lost Kid Creole track.
Review: Vocalist Eva Keyes and producer Dan Taliras first worked together back in 2018 on the joint single "Tired of the City". Since then they've released a handful of other collaborative records, with Taliras handling the obligatory flipside dubs. Like much of their work, "In A Crisis" is a revivalist roots reggae number in which Keyes delivers socially conscious lyrics atop a chunky riddim, crunchy Clavinet lines and hazy horns. As is traditional, Taliras delivers a Dub mix on side B, skilfully re-framing the track as a sparse, echoing and deep mixture of skeletal grooves, echoing vocals and effects-laden instrumental snippets.
Review: If you've not already picked up a copy of Mutaksuku Records' superb reissue of two of reggae musician Devon Russell's greatest Curtis Mayfield covers, we'd suggest grabbing one of these Juno exclusive white vinyl versions, which also happens to ship with a tasty wooden "45" adaptor. You may already know Russell's incredible '84 version of 'Move on Up', which re-imagines it as a languid, post-disco reggae-soul anthem that just oozes sun-soaked positivity. On this seven-inch, it comes backed by something equally as essential: the artist's lesser-known 1993 take on 'Give Me Your Love', which turns the much-loved song into a colourful, synth-laden trip through Balearic reggae territory. In a word: essential.
Brentford Rd Soul Rebels - "30-60-90" (feat Dennis Alcapone) (3:01)
Curtis Baker & The Bravehearts - "30-60-90" (2:42)
Review: This super limited 7" features four original Gravity label artists and serving up their own respective versions of one original. Prince Alfonso & The Fever kick off with fat-bottomed swagger and earthy dub funk grooves, and Nestor Alvarez flip the script with more Latin percussion and bossa-style grooves. Brentford Rd Soul Rebels take you to a hot summer's day with their reggae soundtrack, and last of all Curtis Baker & The Bravehearts lead with a big sax line and hip swinging tambourines that all come underpinned by big bass. Varied and vital, it's a small bit of wax but it packs a big punch.
Review: Hot on the heels of their fine compilation of classic Prince Buster tracks and productions, "Roll On Charles Street", Rock A Shacka delivers a tidy "45" featuring two of the collection's most potent cuts. On the A-side you'll find "Islam", a driving but punchy classic from 1964 that should be familiar to all but the newest ska fans (the vocal refrain, "my people, my people, do you not wanna go", is the killer hook). Over on the flip it's all about Don Drummond's "Sudden Attack", a Prince Buster-produced gem from the same year which like the A-side features all of the original Skatalites band as back-up. This is an altogether cheerier dancefloor number which boasts a suitably heavy rhythm and some suitably firing horns.
Review: For the second salvo in their "loud cut series", the Harlem Shuffle label has raided the vaults of Lee 'Scratch' Perry's legendary studio band, "The Upsetters". On the A-side you'll find "Popcorn" from 1970's "Eastwood Rides Again" album, a hard-edged, Ska-era rhythm & blues rump-shaker that sounds like a Jamaican take on James Brown. The flipside plays host to "Tight Spot", a dubbed-out reggae riddim over which tight saxophone riffs ascend impressively while deejay/singer/mic man attempts to get the dance going with some choice words and phrases. Like the A-side, it's a genuine dancefloor workout.
Review: Music Mania and Indica Dubs come together for a big15th release that takes the form of this excellent "Dubs From The Zion Valley" full length. Despite the sleek future sounds on offer, it was first put out in 1994 and includes some well known classics such as "4 Min Dub" by Isrealies and "Meditation Rock". Both have been big cuts for the Aba Shanti-I Sound System for decades now but still sound super hot to this day. Our pick: Bush Chemists' "Rimshots Get Clap" is a hand out with its endless echo, reverb and woodpecker like hits all built on a natty bassline.
Peter Huntingdale - "Rocking You Eternally" (3:40)
Christine Lewin - "Juicy Fruit" (3:56)
Pure Silk - "Don't Let Love Get You Down" (4:24)
Al Charles - "Outstanding" (5:51)
Karen Dixon - "I Want To Be Free" (6:06)
George Posse - "Touch A Four Leaf Clover" (feat Toyin Adekale) (4:24)
Misses Misty - "Mellow Mellow Ride On" (8:39)
Trevor Hartley - "The Look In Your Eyes" (4:48)
Family Love - "Do Me Baby" (5:20)
Michael Prophet - "Body Fusion" (3:43)
Michael Gordon - "What You Won't Do For Love" (4:52)
Simplicity - "For The Love Of You" (5:35)
Review: Edinburgh's Athens Of The North label is endlessly flawless and this time around they pull together the special lovers rock covers they put out at the end of last year onto a superbly strong 12 track compilation. It arrives just in time for the warmer months and has been curated by Sam Don and overseen by label boss Euan Fryer. Standouts include Christine Lewin's lush take on the heavily sampled "Juicy Fruit" while the lo-fi bliss of Al Charles's "Outstanding" is another one to swell the heart and sooth the soul. For more sentimental moments check Family Love's "Do Me Baby." Overall, though, this is a must buy.