Review: It's finally here... V.I.V.E.K launches a brand new label and, as the title suggests, it's something a little different to the deep 140 piledrivers his System Sound is known for. Two rootsical excursions and two killer versions, this is the sound of the System champion bringing things back to the source. The title track (featuring longstanding System MC Dego Rankin) is a warm dub jam, spaced for good measure. Flip for "Galactic" as V.I.V.E.K flings us further east on a ship powered by Oriental strings and another rolling dub groove that's designed to make rigs purr. Beautiful.
Review: Four years deep into its disco, beatdown and edit adventures, Smokecloud's status is nigh-on impeccable. Here we find them uniting four of their most creative craftsmen for four straight-up dancefloor pacifiers. Highlights include the sludgy slo-mo Edwin Starr on acid flavoured "Caught Up" and the Diana Ross homage that is the sun-skanked reggae party jam "CC Tribute" by VinylAddicted & SMQ. Instant smiles.
Review: Running Back Incantations was created as a series of non-dancefloor releases and its fifth edition came from Austrian producer Daniel Meuzard aka Feater earlier this year. The "Socialo Bianco" LP utilised the EMS Synthi AKS, which he painstakingly recorded entirely by hand and straight on to tape. The track lifted from the LP entitled "Time Million" has already received remixes by legends such as Ricardo Villalobos and Pepe Bradock on the first volume of reworks, followed by current scene heroes Pangaea and Krystal Klear on the second. On this third volume, Jamaican dub/reggae drummer with a Jah given gift for music, Blood Shanti takes over the whole release and serves up four perspectives. Feel the pure elation of the "Main Mix", followed by three jamdown versions: "Dub #2" works those delays and echoes to full effect in true old school style, while "Dub #3" veers into similar sonic territory as legendary dub producer Adrian Sherwood.
Sly & Robbie - "Night Nurse" (feat Simply Red - radio mix) (3:45)
John Holt - "Police In Helicopter" (3:33)
Eek-a-mouse - "Ganja Smuggling" (3:46)
Don Carlos - "Rivers Of Babylon" (3:16)
Freddy McGregor - "Big Ship Sailing" (3:12)
Jacob Miller - "Tenement Yard" (2:33)
The Congos - "La La Bam-Bam" (3:50)
Alton Ellis - "I'm Still In Love" (4:22)
Dennis Brown - "Revolution" (4:15)
Errol Dunkley - "OK Fred" (2:55)
Groundation, Don Carlo & The Congos - "Jah Jah Know" (5:57)
Black Uhuru - "Sinsemilla" (5:14)
Ini Kamoze - "World A Music" (2:45)
Yelloman - "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" (6:29)
Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - "Soul Fire" (3:51)
Alborosie - "No Cocaine" (4:05)
Chaka Demus & Pliers - "Murder She Wrote" (4:04)
Review: Classics are classics for a reason, and this compilation champions them across two slabs of wax. All four sides are jam packed with firm reggae favourites from Bob Marley's stirring "Soul Rebel" to the buttery croons of Gregory Isaacs on "Babylon Too Rough". Mick Hucknall's inclusion will raise some eyebrows, but there is no denying his version of "Night Nurse" with Sly & Robbie has something going on. Smokers will delight in ganga odes from Eek-a-mouse and the lovable innocence of The Congos hit "La La Bam-Bam" will always have a place in anyone's affections.
Review: Real reggae lovers will long have been attuned to this "Soul Of Jamaica" compilation, which draws together the best of the 60s onto one essential slab of wax. The original is highly sought after so this is a welcome reissue from Music on Vinyl. Twelve small but perfectly formed nuggets from artists like Alton Ellis, Tommy McCook and The Paragons exude that dusty, gauzy authenticity that defined this early era-reggae. Some of the tunes swagger, some of them soar, there are sun kissed uplifters and blue-eyed downbeats, but all of them hit the spot.
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - "Tommy's Rock Steady" (3:01)
The Techniques - "Drink Wine" (2:57)
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - "Hot Rock" (3:39)
Miller, Williams, Yount - "Release Me" (4:11)
Sam Jones/Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - "Hey Leroy" (3:03)
The Techniques - "Queen Majesty" (3:35)
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics/King Kurtis - "Soul Serenade" (3:13)
The Paragons - "Mercy Mercy" (2:59)
Phyllis Dillon - "Don't Touch Me Tomato" (3:04)
The Melodians - "You Don't Need Me" (3:08)
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - "Down Bond Street" (3:15)
Review: The Treasure Isle Recording Studio is unparalleled when it comes to some of the biggest rocksteady hits to come out of Jamaica. On this essential reissue, some of its greatest output is explored on tenor sax by Tommy McCook - an original pioneer of the sound and one of Jamaica's most celebrated musicians - and produced by the legendary Duke Reid of the Trojan Sound System. This is music from a golden era, when rocksteady outshone the more upbeat ska, and focus was shifted to song based material, with elements of r&b and blues all reimagined through a decidedly Jamaican lens.