Review: In recent times we've been treated to plenty of reissues of classic lover's rock gems, including an Athens of the North-released collection of lover's rock covers. It's therefore rather exciting to hear some brand-new lover's rock in a similar vein from Crucial Rockers, a studio band formed by producer Jamie Searle. The track given the cover treatment is Womack & Womack classic "Teardrops". While that was fiendishly uptempo, this version is sweet, slow and effortlessly soulful, with Searle's warming riddim offering a perfect match for the un-credited vocalist's fine delivery of the Womacks' weary and emotional lyrics. The flipside dub is rather tasty, too. Sadly there aren't many of these around, so act fast if you want to secure a copy!
Review: Last year, Agnes Obel included Nora Dean's "Ay Ay Ay Ay" on her fantastic Late Night Tales and got plenty of people talking about this overlooked gem. Featured on the B side of this 7", it's an enchanting and folky dub backed by an ominous droning organ and psychedelic guitar riffs, with a sense of smoky soul, curious chants and whistles. With vocal effects that are reminiscent of Pink Floyd's 1968 track, "Julia Dream", Dean has perhaps delivered one of the strangest songs with the most compelling vocal performance in the history of Jamaican music. Flip over for early Reggae masterpiece "Peace Begins Within," on which Dean's vocals soar over an uplifting beat, despite the track being about the harsh re-alities of life. Tip!
Review: For the latest volume in their ongoing "Reggae Cut Loud" series of seven-inch singles, Harlem Shuffle Records have gathered together two suitably rare gems from the undisputed king of rocksteady, Alton Ellis, neither of which have previously featured on a "45". A-side "Pumping In", an early rocksteady treat, is rich in R&B style guitar riffs, warm bass and an echo-laden vocal from Ellis. It was recorded in 1970 but for one reason or another only surfaced a few years ago. Flipside "Knock On Wood", a cover of the Eddie Floyd soul favourite, was recorded a number of times by Ellis; this version is the superior 1972 Joe Gibbs take, which boasts some superb Hammond organ sounds and a defiantly dub-wise reggae riddim. It's absolutely essential.
Review: Given the anger in the United States surrounding the antics of President Trump, it was almost inevitable that we'd see a cover version of Roy C Hammond and the Honey Drippers' Nixon-era funk bomb "Impeach The President" at some point. It's a great cover, too, with Fysah Thomas providing a sassy, venomous lead vocal over a fine, horns-and-drumbreaks-heavy funk backing track courtesy of backing band The Get Down Underground. On the flip they completely re-build the track, re-casting it as an authentic dub reggae workout complete with delay-laden vocal and horn snippets and an all new rhythm track. It's rather brilliant all told and arguably even better than the A-side version.
Foxy Brown - "Oh Yeah" (Featuring Spragga Benz) (4:12)
Review: The first volume in the Lickshot series serves up two almighty slabs of reggae and dancehall-influenced hip-hop from two of the biggest names in the game. On side A you'll find an edited version of Jay-Z's "Bam" from 2017 album "4:44", where the long-serving rapper trades verses with Damian Marley over a sparse beat and sampled reggae horns. Over on the flip dancehall vocalist Spragga Benz guests on Foxy Brown"Oh Yeah", a hybrid hip-hop/ragga workout . Like its' A-side companion, it's a weighty, club-ready rocker that should be in every hip-hop head's collection.
Review: Standby for KC White's excellent 1973 version of the song made famous by Dawn Penn. The submissive message of the lyrics rings out over fat bass and has just as superb an effect as first time round. This wasn't White's only cover, because he is best known for covering hits like "First Cut Is The Deepest", always adding his own spin and at least equally the quality of the source material. The version on the reverse is a heady one and these are such enduring tunes that this is the fourth time they have been reissued since first time round. Crucial.
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: The Kingstonians were a relatively short-lived Jamaican band whose greatest work was produced by Derek Harriott between 1968 and '70. It was at the tail end of this period that they recorded their sole album, "Sufferer", an early reggae classic featuring a swathe of sought-after cuts. It's from that set that these two tracks are taken. For the record, both have appeared on 7" singles before, but are so hard to find that collectors are willing to spend up to 500 Euros to find original copies. A-side "Hold Down" is particularly potent, with the vocal trio's fuzzy vocals rising above a killer early reggae rhythm much in Hammond organ stabs, warm bass and clipped guitars. "Nice, Nice" meanwhile is a more up-tempo affair that gives a little more prominence to a typical early reggae guitar riff. Together the two tracks make for a suitably scintillating package.
Review: By now, you should know Devon Russell's sought-after 1984 cover of Curtis Mayfield classic "Move On Up", a incredible, post-disco era reggae-soul revision that just oozes sun-splashed positivity. It's virtually impossible to pick up the original 45 so this dinked reissue from Mukatsuku Records is most welcome and has been lovingly remastered. The seven-inch is also notable for including another overlooked gem from Russell's even lesser-known 1993 album of Mayfield covers, "Darker Than Blue". His rendition of "Give Me Your Love" here presented for the very first time in a 45 format is blissfully glassy-eyed, colourful and hazy, giving the Mayfield classic a decidedly Balearic reggae feel via head-nodding grooves, fluid synthesizer lines and jazzy guitar solos. In a word: brilliant.Supported so far by DJ Koco & DJ Muro from Japan and Craig Charles BBC 6 Music, The Allergies,Mr Thing, Andy Smith & Boca 45 from the uk....
Review: Original Gravity is run by label owner Neil Anderson, who has a tireless work ethic and superb devotion to ska, reggae, and everything in between. His love of boss rhythms comes to the fore once more here with new tunes from three pseudonyms - The Regulators, Woodfield Road Allstars and Prince Dolly - all of whom, in actual fact, are him. Regulators cut "Why Why Why" opens up with a heavy bottom end, "Coast to Coast: has a big organ led groove and "Why Dub Why" reworks the opening tune into a rocksteady roller.
Review: Seventies dub talent Keith Rowe had a small but perfectly formed discography under this alias and it includes the 1977 gem "Groovy Situation". Like most tracks of the era it had Lee 'Scratch' Perry production so the riddim is crucial. Super smooth, super sunny, super stoned, it's an archetypal stoner dub that will never age. The dub packs less of a cerebral message without Rowe's caramel vocals but delivers just as much goodness through those sweet riffs and gentle percussive flutters. Snap this one up for authentic dub bliss.
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: Lee Perry's studio band was famously known as The Upsetters but also recorded as Black Ark Players, named after his famous studio. This is their one and only album and it first landed in 1980 as another part in the infinite musical puzzle around Lee Perry. The previously hard to find record marks the end of one era and the start of another as it came right at the start of the demise fo the studio. It is built on a bedrock of heavy beats and bass, with spooky dub styles and spacey synth styles that add layers of intrigue that never let up.
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.
Review: In 1979, dub legend Lee 'Scratch' Perry "adopted" a pair of Congolese musicians who had been left stranded on Jamaica, put them together with his regular session players in the Black Ark studio he later burned down in a fit of psychosis, and recorded an album. As this fine reissue proves (the second in as many months; it was also reissued under the alternative title "Roots From The Congo"), the resultant music - a vibrant mix of Perry's particular brand of dub reggae and soukous music - was not only magical, but also unlike almost anything that had come before. For some reason it was only ever released on small labels in France and Belgium at the time, meaning that original copies are extremely hard to find. This reissue, then, is long overdue. Do yourself a favour and snap them up before they all disappear.
Sam Carty - "Milte Hi Akhen Aka Bird In Hand" (Full vocal version) (3:53)
Mystic I - "One More River To Cross" (3:09)
The Upsetters - "One More Dub To Cross" (3:18)
Junior Murvin - "People Get Ready" (3:23)
The Upsetters - "People Get Ready Dub" (3:18)
The Silvertones - "Feel All Right" (2:40)
Review: Barely a week goes by without a new release that has Lee "Scratch" Perry's name on it somewhere. This one from Rock A Shaka in Japan brings together all the best bits from the famous Black Arc studio and features big names like The Upsetters, Junior Murvin, The Silvertones, and Perry himself. There's a laidback air of sun kissed Caribbean grooves from top to bottom, with various Dubpate Mixes, full vocal versions and dubs adding up to a feel good collection of loved-up riddims that will slide their way into your affections.
Review: Since moving to Sao Paolo from New York nearly two decades ago, in-demand producer and dub mixer Victor Price hasn't released much solo material. In fact, "Drink" is his first solo album since 2002 and has been trailed as a natural successor to that album, "Smoke". This is because it expands on the "samba Ska" blueprint he established on that much-loved set. In practice that means tracks that craftily combine elements of both Brazilian music and Jamaican ska, dub and reggae, with a few jazz and blues influences thrown in. As a result, "Drink" makes for hugely enjoyable, sun-soaked listening, with the Afro-Cuban/Ska fusion of "Bebida", relaxed "Simao", skanking "Because I Can" and pleasingly dubbed-out "Time To Go" standing out.
Review: The Lee "Scratch" Perry produced Revelation Time is often said to be a definitive record from the Jamaican canon and is widely regarded as the best album Max Romeo ever wrote. Initially it was only put out in Jamaica in 1975 then two years later in 1977 under the name Warning! Warning! A year after that, the rest of the world was treated with a release, again under a new name, this time Open The Iron Gate. Now it is served up under its original name with all 10 tracks hitting hard and making their mark.
Afrika Bambaataa & Family - "Reckless" (feat UB40) (3:53)
Breakfast In Bed (feat Chrissie Hynde) (3:14)
Homely Girl (3:21)
Kingston Town (3:44)
Robert Palmer - "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (feat UB40) (3:24)
Tears From My Eyes (3:45)
Here I Am (Come & Take Me) (4:17)
(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You (3:26)
Review: It was right back in 1980 that UB40 secured their first big hit with "food For Thought." In the years following they became a hugely popular dub outfit and this new Music on Vinyl release captures all their various different musical phases across double 180 gram audiophile transparent vinyl with a four page booklet adding plenty of context and backstory. All the band's biggest hits are included such as "Red Red Wine", "Food For Thought", "One In Ten", "Cherry Oh Baby" and more, as well as duets with Chrissie Hynde, Afrika Bambaataa and Robert Palmer.
Review: 17 North Parade continues to serve up reissues of Black Ark material following the Black Ark Players's one and only album. This time they look to the second volume of cuts recorded at the legendary Lee Scratch Perry studio in the 70s and 80s. In house band The Upsetters feature next to Perry himself as well as Silvertones and Coral Cole. Plenty of heavy bass undermines the tunes while some drift into summery, flute lead territory for the mind, and others get dark and dirty. The Inamans's cover of "how Deep Is Your Love" is a personal favourite here.