Peter Abdul & The Abeng Musical Box - "Inflation" (2:55)
Russ D In Front Room Studio - "Inflation" (Dubwise) (2:57)
Review: Italian label Dig This Way serves up a third sizzling offering, this time featuring Nigerian singer Peter Abdul. He does his heart aching work over a solid rhythm from Abeng's Musical Box and the results are steeped in romance and yearning. A flip side dub from Russ Disciple is also well worth checking for its smart effects and fathom deep bass. Abdul is a relative unknown but for his 1984 album Get Down With Me, which head in a more boogie and funk direction. Regardless, this is a tasty dub, make no mistake.
Review: Four years ago Ethio-jazz elder Mulato Astatke came good on a promise he made way back in 2009 and joined forces with Australian collective Black Jesus experience to record a collaborative album. That album, "Cradle of Humanity", did a good job in fusing traditional Ethiopian songs and musical sounds with heady dancefloor grooves rooted in soul, funk and jazz. "To Know Without Knowing" takes a similar approach, balancing certified dancefloor workouts (see the fiery Ethio-funk-meets-Latin jazz flex of "Mascaram Setaba", bustling "Kulun Mankwaleshi" and breezy soul-jazz number "To Know Without Knowing") with deeper, more downtempo excursions that are every bit as alluring.
Review: This big one from Johnny Osbourne has never, ever, officially been on 7" before now. It comes from a time when roots was at its peak, but dancehall was on the horizon and starting to make an impact. The longing vocals are matched by drawn out slide guitar, distant reggae riffs and a bendy bassline that takes you on a real journey. Roots Radics appear on the flipside with their own take on things with "Dangerous Match Four" before proceeding to serve up an even more horizontal take on the original.
Review: Eric Clarke is best known as one of Jamaica's most outstanding drummers, as well as being the older brother of big time star Johnny Clarke. "Fight Against Babylon" was released right at the peak of his powers and this reissue marks the first time it has been readily available since then. It's an archetypal cut with Clarke's trademark drums sounding superb and scoring vocal odes to the one and only Babylon. The version is a freaky one that makes the vocals sound like a distant apparition, while also stripping things back to that essential riddim.
Review: Long running dub dons Nice Up! unveil a brand new talent on their latest: that man is Escape Roots, a Glaswegian producer and Mungo's HiFi's Walk n Skank resident who calls upon vocalist Dandelion to muse on the many different joys of ganga. Riding on classic dancehall rhythms with hooky guitar riffs and tumbling claps, Dandelion touches on toothpaste, butter, soap and the titular Ganga Socks. It's tongue in cheek, head in the clouds stuff that will have you skanking for days. For those who like it more stripped back, flipside "Version" is where it's at.
The Loser (feat Alex Desert & Black Shakespeare) (4:14)
The Loser (feat Ruben Durazo - instrumental) (4:12)
Review: This one comes on like a lovely breezy on a warm and balmy evening. It's a real gem from LA reggae veterans The Lions feat. Alex Desert & Black Shakespeare and is perfectly timed for summer. It comes with iconic piano chimes that are instantly recognisable from the Derrick Harriott 1967 rock steady classic, as well as warming rays of sun and period-perfect chat from Shakespeare. On the flip side, Ruben Durazo's instrumental is more playful and led by those gorgeous keys. Both tunes are perfectly heavy.
Review: Winston McAnuff linked with the Black Kush Band to lay down the red hot rhythm that is "Fear" in 1979. In the early 2000s, they got together once more to re-record it and now it gets a special, limited edition 7" release of its own for the first time ever. It's a real roots classic with bird-call like flutes and natty trumpet stabs, tangled acoustic guitar riffs and plump drums. On the flip, there's a slowed down, spaced out and trippy dub version that allows the gnarly bass to really shine though and take the track into a different mood.
Keithus Dimts Selassie I & The Royal Horses - "I Know" (3:46)
Roberto Sanchez Meets The Royal Horses - "I Dub" (3:45)
Review: Talented singer Keithus Dimits Selassie I has a deep emotion to the tone and message of his music. It is perfect for more spiritual dub sounds and that's the case here. His interpretation here rides nicely on the lazy rhythm below, with acoustic riffs dancing in mid air above puddles of echo. On the flip, Roberto Sanchez stepped up at Lone Ark studios to craft his own slow motion version that is a perfect partner for the a-side. This is a serious piece of 7" wax that packs a punch on many levels.
Review: Horus Records look back to the mid-seventies for this fine piece of instrumental funk reggae outta Jamaica. It comes from Keith Rowe and is the sort of tight little groover and well detailed rhythm to get you on your toes and sliding all over the floor. You'll also find a dubbed out version of rocksteady hit "Tonight" on the flipside, riddled with endless reverb that encourages you to sink in deep before the vocal comes on like a cosmic apparition and the woody hits scatter around you in the stereo field.
Come Together (version - Digikal Ruff cut dubplate) (3:37)
Review: Step into the future of dub with this swaggering slice of goodness from Paco Ten. It continues in the fine tradition of Old Hard Bread who had a top year in 2019 and come good again now. "Come Together (Digikal Ruff Cut Dubplate)" piles up the drums and hits into a clean and crisp riddim that's finished off with impassioned vocal cries and wails that melt into futuristic synths. The version on the flip is a subtly different affair that makes just as big an impression.
Review: It was 1973 when uber-prolific reggae legend Dennis Brown's "At The Foot Of The Mountain" made its first impact. Now, after many reissues and represses, it is still very much a heavy hitter that does plenty of damage. As such Impact and Onlyroots link up to put it out once more. It's an easy going rhythm with scattered wooden hits and tin pot percussion, lazy beats swaying in a warm summer breeze with Brown's buttery delivery finishing things in smooth fashion. The flipside "Version" is filled with whimsical, breathy coos and flutes that makes it even more escapist.
Review: Jamaican label Mister Tipsy have dug out two previously unreleased gems from Culture, the roots reggae group founded in 1976. They were recorded in the mid eighties with JA producer Blackbeard and roll nice and deep. "Wah Fi We" has pixelated chords that take you straight back to the era over meandering bass and drums. Acoustic guitar riffs and ticking hi hats all flesh out the groove, while the flip side is a rough version that sounds even more lived in and frayed and authentic.
Review: Freddy McKay's "Bring Back The Good Old Days" is one of roots reggae's rarer singles. It was recorded and pressed up on a white label "45" sometime in the 1970s, though quite how many copies exist remains a mystery - hence any copy that does come up for sale online tends to go for serious money. Helpfully Typhoon has decided to finally give it a release. Produced by McKay's regular collaborator Alvin Ranglin (AKA soundsystem operator GG), the track sees the singer soulfully but wearily plea for the good times of old over a deep but jaunty roots-reggae riddim. Ranglin's flipside dub mix is superb, too, and sounds every bit as good as anything produced by contemporaries such as Lee 'Scratch' Perry and King Tubby.
Stranger In Town (Gentleman dub club remix) (3:55)
Stranger In Town (Gentleman dub club dub) (3:56)
Review: Riddim Punks are still riding off the success of their huge remix of Chronixx's "Sell My Gun", but now return with more heat. This one was written with Jamaican/Canadian reggae superstar Exco Levi and touches on themes of cultural alienation, the Windrush scandal and immigration. The bass is blistering and the effects subtle yet superb. The enveloping sub bass is present and correct and ensures this one will do plenty of club damage. What's more, it is taken from a forthcoming album so keep your eyes peeled for that one.
Review: Henry "Junjo" Lawes produced "Jacqueline" by Hugh Mundell back in 1982 and now it's re-issued on 7" single, backed with the Roots Radics dub mix by Scientist. The original is a spaced out riddim with plenty of smart studio trickery fleshing out the heady atmospheres. The lazy drums and horns are slowly but surely absorbing and the vocals full of love. The flipside is even more sparse, allowing ear head room and inviting you right into the mix. Tasty stuff all round, and definitely one to add to the collection before it disappears again.
Review: With "Frontin & My Adidas" Taggy Matcher returns with another soul/rap/reggae mash-up. This time round it's Pharell's "Frontin" acappella dropped over a deep dub beat - all the way to Kingston. On the flip side they feature a rocksteady version of a true hip-hop/electro classic! "My Adidas" is a great reworking of the RUN DMC tune, with a dub-like rhythm to it and a really classic sound overall. Stix present these two top-notch party pieces.
Review: This is some essential original roots reggae from all the way back in 1977. Recorded by Earl (Sixteen) Daley, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Steely, Albert Malawi and Dalton Browne at the legendary Black Ark studios and now reissued by Belgian connoisseurs Roots Vibration, "Freedom" is a real stepper; sweet guitar licks and vocal work with drums and bass piled up on top of one another in perfect harmony. If you're after something deeper, flipover for the "Dub" version provided by The Upsetters. Timeless.
Review: Roots Vibration keep up their tireless dub reissue work with another dig into the untouchable back catalogue of the one and only Lee "Scratch" Perry. Back to 1978, this is a slab of gold that was first recorded in the revered Black Ark studios the dub don owned before burning it down in a stoned and paranoid state. "Captive" finds him musing inwardly on the continual enslavement of black people in the West, calling for mental and spiritual liberation. The Upsetters once again dub it out on the flip side in excellent fashion.
Review: This old school Winston McAnuff tune has long been out of print. The Jamaican singer and composer behind it was also known as Electric Dread and fused funk, dub and reggae into his own unique forms, often with real social and political power in his lyrics. This is the first time it has ever been pressed on its own 7" and includes a natty dub on the reverse by Fatman Riddim Section. The original, "Unchained", has wailing vocals that speak of real passion and pain as they muse on black independence. The lazy grooves wiggle beneath, with rolling percussion and acoustic guitar riffs all adding to the experience.