Hamburg's already successful Urban Vibez night has been taken to higher heights, as promoters Bushfire Sound have found Berlin's winners of last year's Riddim Soundclash, the mighty Supersonic to join them in hosting the Urban Vibez night at Hamburg's Echochamber on a bimonthly basis (that is one month Bushfire will be hosting the Urban Vibez, next month Supersonic). For this special 'new style' first edition, both sounds shared the stage to be host to both the producer and singer of my "Album Of The Year" of last year, Chris Peckings and singer Bitty McLean, who together with Chris' brother Duke gave us the brilliant "On Bond Street With The Supersonics" for their Peckings-label

Musical niceness galore from both Bushfire and later on Supersonic's Panza & Spider brought the massive in the right festive mood to have Chris Peckings unleash the old Treasure Isle riddims (see the aforementioned "On Bond Street" review for a more detailed description of riddims and tunes) for Bitty to top with his vocals and just one line into the album and now show-opener "Walk Away >From Love" had the crowd screaming, wailing, clapping, whistling for the first of many pull-ups, as Bitty absolutely fabulously crooned his way through the excellent tunes he covered or wrote on top of these riddims Tommy McCook and HIS Supersonics laid for Arthur 'Duke' Reid near the end of the 60s with just one or two exceptions for the early 70s. It's the combination of Bitty's extraordinary smooth voice and singing, clever songwriting and enough braggadocio that make it possible to perform these old rocksteady/ska songs in a lovers mood with just a selector instead of a band. The heartfelt "Make It With You", the stompin'"Your Heart", the Smokey Robinson adaptation "Cruisin'" rebuilt completely Jamaican soul style, the excellent "Only You" over the 'I Shall Wear A Crown'-riddim that's already over 40 years old and still sounding crisp, "Baby Tonight", the superb "My Lover's Call", "I've Got Love" and as an encore a reprise of "Baby Tonight" were all met with the same overwhelming crowd response. If Bitty wanted lighters, he got lighters, wanted the massive to sing-a-long, he got them singing, and all the while he remained singing so soulful and smooth, making it one of the best performances I ever saw by a reggae singer, when he called it quits at about 2:45 am.

But not for the whole of the night, as he sneaked up to the mike for a take on "Tell Me" during Bushfire Sound's entertaining set that followed, before Supersonic Sound took the crowd along once again to a higher gear, with some superb dubplates and a great soca segment in their final set, taking the clock to 5:00 am... 6 splendid hours of ska / rocksteady / soca entertainment thanks to a great live performance and some very decent juggling. All I can say: BIG BIG respect to both Bitty & Chris, who are extremely nice guys as well as great reggae entertainers, Supersonic's Spider, Panza & Uzzla, Bushfire Sound & the attending Soundquake members, as well as the very supportive Hamburg massive, I'm sure it's gonna be great again on March 19th when Supersonic bring along Barney Millah. It's been my pleasure!


Text & Photos : Souljah



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