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.
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: 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: 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.
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: 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.
Upsetter Revue - "Play On Mr Music" (feat The Heptones & The Congos & Junior Murvin)
Carlton Jackson - "History" (Dub Plate mix)
The Silvertones - "Rejoice Jah Jah Children" (Dub Plate mix)
Jimmy Riley - "Give Me A Love"
The Upsetters - "Give Me A Dub"
Lee Perry - "Soul Fire"
Sam Carty - "Milte Hi Akhen Aka Bird In Hand" (Full vocal version)
Mystic I - "One More River To Cross"
The Upsetters - "One More Dub To Cross"
Junior Murvin - "People Get Ready"
The Upsetters - "People Get Ready Dub"
The Silvertones - "Feel All Right"
Keith Rowe - "Sugar & Spice (Love Has Got Its Way)"
The Upsetters - "Spicy Version"
Review: Although there have been a number of retrospectives focused on Lee 'Scratch' Perry's productions during the period he ran the Black Ark studio (1973-79), few have gone quite as deep as this superb compilation from Rock-A-Shacka. What makes it stand out from its rivals is not the number of well-regarded classics included - though it does contain a few, such as "Soul Fire" and Mystic I's "One More River To Cross" - but rather the deepness of the selections and the impressive number of previously unreleased tracks. Check, for example, the superb all-star outing "Play On Mr Music", after which the compilation is named, the languid and soulful "Dub Plate Mix" of The Silvertones' conscious roots classic "Rejoice Jah Jah Children", and the two mixes of Keith Rowe's "Sugar & Spice".
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: 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.
Review: Studio One have put out plenty of big tunes and this is the latest to get a big reissue on a super loud-cut 12" single for extra devastating impact. It's a well-known classic every self-respecting reggae fan should know and blows up any party, especially when tweaked like these two versions. They were originally produced by Studio One bossman Coxsone Dodd and have been covered by The Clash as well as sampled by The Fugees and hip hop MC KRS One. The snaking lead synth, the rumbling drums and classic ska trumpet are all straight up irresistible.
Bob Marley - "Is This Love" (Redmo acoustic takedown)
Redmo - "Sadi Soul"
Review: Sam Redmore has quietly been doing his thing in hometown Birmingham for some time, crafting soul-soaked re-edits, bootleg remixes and mash-ups that tend towards the tasteful end of the spectrum. Having previously built up a solid fan base via his own Bandcamp page, he's finally made it onto wax. The two cuts featured here are amongst his best. The A-side revision of Bob Marley's "Is This Love" is particularly potent. It strips out the drums, thus emphasizing the genuine sweetness of Marley's original. Flip for "Sadi Soul", an upbeat, headnodding rework of a vibraphone and double bass-laced jazz-funk jam with added hip-hop swing.
Marcia Griffiths - "Steppin' Out Of Babylon" (4:05)
Janet Kay & The Kaylets - "Lovin You" (3:33)
Marcia Aitken - "I'm Still In Love With You" (3:45)
Joya Landis - "Angel Of The Morning" (3:04)
Phyllis Dillon - "Perfidia" (2:46)
Sylvia Tella - "Spell" (4:06)
Nora Dean - "Barbwire" (2:21)
Mille Small - "Honey Hush" (2:51)
Phyllis Dillon - "Love Was All I Had" (2:46)
Faye Bennett - "Back Wey" (2:47)
Lorna Bennett - "Good Woman" (3:45)
Sonya Spence - "Come With Me" (3:49)
Sandra Robinson - "Sensi For Sale" (3:13)
Althea - "Downtown Thing" (2:52)
Marcia Griffiths - "Give You & Get" (3:37)
Dawn Penn - "I Let You Go" (2:28)
Paula Clarke - "Dynamic" (4:05)
Susan Cadogan - "If" (3:50)
Hortense Ellis - "My Willow Tree" (3:24)
Doreen Shaeffer - "Back In My Arms Again" (3:38)
Review: Trojan have pulled together some of reggae's finest moments here, and importantly they come from some of the genre's most vital female talents, who can often be overlooked in favour of their more visible male counterparts. Across four sides of vinyl the likes of Millie Small, Althea & Donna, Marcia Griffiths, Phyllis Dillon, and Susan Cadogan all deservingly feature and personal sleeve notes from musician Rhoda Dakar also add real value. Big hits, unknown rarities and some brilliantly wonky numbers like Sandra Robinson's "Sensi For Sale" make this an instant NEED!
The Paragons - "Joy In My Soul" (feat Tommy McCook & The Supersonics) (2:24)
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - "The World Needs Love" (instrumental) (2:11)
Review: This fabulous "45" features two more gems from the seemingly bottomless archives of Arthur 'Duke' Reid's legendary Treasure Isle studio and record label. First up on side A is "Joy In My Soul" by the Paragons, a vocal group best known for their rocksteady-era output. This particular number is a sweet slab of reggae soulfulness that was first released in 1975, though the Reid-produced cut sounds like it may have been recorded earlier. Turn to side B for Treasure Isle Tommy McCook and the Supersonics' "What The World Needs", an instrumental rocksteady cover of the Hal David/Burt Bacharach easy listening classic later made famous by Dione Warwick (and later fellow Motown stars the Supremes).
Dave Barker & The Charmers - "I Can't Get Next To You" (2:46)
Desmond Dekker & The Aces - "It Mek" (2:21)
The Versatiles - "Worries" (2:23)
Lloyd Charmers - "Bang Bang Lulu" (3:05)
Cool Sticky - "Train To Soulsville" (2:43)
Cornell Campbell - "Girl Of My Dreams" (3:16)
Jo Jo Bennett & Mudies All Stars - "Leaving Rome" (2:36)
The Melodians - "Sweet Sensation" (3:54)
The Tommy McCook Quintet - "Rock Away" (2:26)
Ken Boothe - "Freedom Street" (3:01)
Freddie Notes & The Rudies - "Guns Of Navarone" (3:19)
The Sensations - "Everyday Is Just A Holiday" (3:12)
Lyn Taitt & The Jets - "Soul Food" (2:30)
Phyllis Dillon - "Don't Stay Away" (2:35)
Carl Dawkins - "Satisfaction" (1:46)
Dennis Alcapone - "Shades Of Hudson" (3:23)
Errol Dunkley - "The Scorcher" (2:44)
Review: Later this spring, authors Paul 'Smiler' Anderson and Mark 'Bax' Baxter will release "Scorcha!", a coffee table book celebrating the skinhead and suedehead movement of the late 1960s and early '70s. For the uninitiated, it was a largely white British working class movement inspired by both the dress of the Windrush generation and the ska, rocksteady and reggae music they brought with them from the Caribbean. This excellent ten disc seven-inch box set from Trojan has been designed as a musical accompaniment to the book. It boasts a wealth of classic cuts popular within the skinhead and suedehead scenes, both from well-known Jamaican artists and those that have largely been overlooked.
Review: It would be fair to say that Lee 'Scratch' Perry's work with The Full Experience, a female vocal trio comprised of Aura Lewis, Pamela Reed and Candy MacKenzie, is not among his best known material - in part because only limited amounts of it was ever released in the late 1970s. This brilliant anthology from Doctor Bird does its best to fill in the gaps by gathering together Full Experience tracks from various largely little-known releases, including a clutch of cuts that have never before appeared on wax. Highlights include the dancefloor-focused disco-reggae sweetness of "Disco Fits", the super-soulful "Ice Cream", the Congoes-esque "Young Gifted & Broke" and the brilliant 12" mix of "Disco Devil", which is based on Perry's fine riddim for Max Romeo's "Chase The Devil".
Review: This is a super new 7" from Japan's Rock A Shacka. It finds the Chosen Few tackle reggae cuts from The Stylistics and The Moments and the results are so sweet they'll have your mouth watering. "My Thing" hits a gorgeously soul drenched bullseye between dub, reggae and lovers rock, largely thanks to the gorgeous vocal up top. The gently swaying drums and guitar riffs only heighten the soothing effect. "Children Of The Night" goes slower, with more effects and fatter bass to sink deep into as the horizontal grooves encourage you to lay back and gaze at the stars.
Review: Most reggae scholars agree that dub maestro Lee 'Scratch' Perry was at his musical best during the period he spent working at the Black Ark studio. Two of the last albums recorded at the studio before it burned down in 1979 were "Black Ark In Dub" volumes one and two, which were eventually released in 1980 and '81 respectively. Here they're gathered together on CD for the first time. Volume 1 (disc one) sees Perry offer up weighty, spooky and out-there dubs of backing tracks created by his regular studio band, the Black Ark Players. Disc two expands on the more vocal-focused - but no less dubbed-out - sequel, showcasing alternate takes and extended mixes of popular Perry-produced singles from the period. In a word: essential.
Review: He's hardly prolific, but DJ/producer Del Gazeebo has been offering up occasional re-edits, mash-ups and bootleg reworks for longer than some of us have been alive. Here he begins 2020 in fine fashion with two party-hearty reworks guaranteed to get the dancefloor moving. Aside "Barbara Don't Love Me" is a bouncy, subtly beefed-up take on a horn-heavy 1960s soul/rhythm and blues classic that sounds like it would go down well at parties that love Northern Soul. Flipside "Dat Ting" meanwhile is a head-nodding take on a punchy soulful reggae cut underpinned by weighty bass and tight hip-hop beats.
Review: Considered something of a rocksteady classic, The Melodians' 1970 debut album "Rivers Of Babylon" has long been tricky to find on vinyl. Surprisingly, this Music on Vinyl reissue marks the first time it has appeared on wax outside of Jamaica and the first pressing of any sort for 50 years. It remains arguably their strongest work: a warm, soul-fired set of loved-up songs co-produced by legendary Chinese Jamaican ska specialist Leslie Kong and his long-time sound engineer Warwick Lyn. The plentiful highlights include upbeat number "Though I'm Through With You", the jaunty "Walking In The Rain", slow jam "It Took A Miracle" and fine opener "Rivers Of Babylon".
George Posse - "Touch A Four Leaf Clover" (feat Toyin Adekale)
Misses Misty - "Mellow Mellow Ride On"
Trevor Hartley - "The Look In Your Eyes"
Family Love - "Do Me Baby"
Michael Prophet - "Body Fusion"
Michael Gordon - "What You Won't Do For Love"
Simplicity - "For The Love Of You"
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.