May 15th was the date for the 5th Anniversary party of Germaican Records out of Leipzig Germany, home of the worldwide celebrated 'Doctor's Darling'-riddim, and a total of 58 7" releases spread over 12 riddims, featured on the compilations "The Excitement", "Shining Stars", "Shining Stars Vol.2" and the VP Records released "Riddim Driven ~ Doctor's Darling" as well.

After Kid Loki & Peanut Vendor had been playing tunes for the slowly growing massive from all over Germany dripping into the Agra Veranstaltungsgelände The Germaicans, in their hometown, featuring on bass the Big Man of this night, Lanni 'Pionear' Topp, the man behind Germaican Records, and Far East Band drummer and builder of Germaican's current hot 'Valentine'-riddim Marco Baresi behind the kit took the stage, and after Pionear welcomed the 2.500 massive, the stage was for the 'Germaican Scout 2004'-part of the night. Celebrating two up and coming artists from Pionear's stable, former Backyard Crew member Bobby Buster was the first one after the instrumental intro to ride the 'Egyptian'-riddim. Backyard Crew became the center of controversy just after the first issue of German reggae magazine riddim was published, because their "Informer (Blue Steel Pt.2)" combination with Elephant Man that was included on the accompanying CD, was blatantly homophobic. Then the first Germaican riddim Seeed's 'Pharoah' a.k.a. "Music Monks" is unleashed for Ill Inspecta's "Baby Girl" and Bobby Buster's "You", followed by Pionear's own latest release the 'Typhoon'-riddim, and a take on Backyard Crew's 'Bitch'-riddim driven "Talk About Love", Marco Baresi's 'Valentine'-riddim, Germaican Records current hit riddim is the next poured over the massive, with Pionear staying awfully close to Prince Buster's "Rough Rider" bassline. Pionear's cousin Tom Topp, who is introduced on stage to and hailed by the massive, being the man that built the extremely popular (in dancehalls worldwide) 'Cure'-riddim and that is used here for a joint take by Bobby Buster & Ill Inspecta on the former's "Love Jamaica", Bobby Buster steps up next for "Hand Inna The Air" and Ill Inspecta for "Willing/Killing". One of Pionear's earlier riddims 'World Report' is used for "What's Up?", before the brand new 'Messer Banzani'-riddim, named after the 5 years ago disbanded ska-dancehall outfit of which Pionear was the mastermind and producer, and from the clear influence of ska in the riddim an appropriate tribute to the band is under "Bad & Ugly / All Girl", with a surprise appearance by Kingstone-selector and Singer/DJ Lazy Youth (well, more a case of just grabbing the mike to full effect), who is about to have his vinyl only album "Gebe Nicht Auf" (Don't Give Up) ready for CD-release as well, as he told me just after the show. A very entertaining set from Bobby Buster & Ill Inspecta, we can be sure to hear more from both artists.

Entering the limelight was Münster's dancehall don, the German reggae veteran and class-act entertainer Dr.Ring-Ding over a musical intro using the 'Geisha'-riddim. Dr.Ring-Ding immediately showed once again he is not just a very versatile dancehall DJ (for the ones who only became aware of him through his string of 7" recorded for Germaican records these last few years), but a singer in his own right, opening as usual over the last year with Bob Andy's 1969 Studio One classic "Unchained", before "Big Up", the title song of the last album he did with the Senior Allstars, released like all Dr.Ring-Ding & the Senior Allstars albums mentioned in this impression by Grover Records, before doing a tune that always moves the crowd, from the heydays of the Senior Allstars until now, every audience willingly participates in his "Call Di Doctor" from the "Ram Di Dance" album, with the inclusion of a fabulous General Levy imitation. The next, more old school riddim driven, selection is the fine "Good Times". Then a long and funny speech about being called the doctor, but not actually being one, as an introduction to the mento/calypso of (Doctor I'm Afraid Of The "Size Of Your Needle". The speed of both the backing and the vocal delivery went up again for the dancehall-mento of "Ruckumbine", in which several snatches of traditional mento come along, as well as some hilarious imitations of dancing oldies in the dances by Dr.Ring-Ding and some infotainment on Jamaica's musical history.

Dr.Ring-Ding...Live On Stage.

For the in-crowd spectator it must have been amusing to see not a single hand in the audience raised when the Doctor asked before introducing the tune "Do you know what mento is?". Time then for Dr.Ring-Ding's conscious dancehall selections, first the unfortunately still very on topic "Bombs Over Baghdad over the 'Pharaoh'-riddim, and then his great "Vom Vatter" 'From The Father' over 'Geisha'. Of course the tune that gave it's name to Germaican Records' biggest and most successfull riddim to date "Doctor's Darling" got the full live treatment as well, including snatches of the "Night Nurse" original by Gregory Isaacs . For his encore Dr.Ring-Ding took one of the greatest songs about love ever John Holt's "Love I Can Feel", (introduced by him as a Smokey Robinson original) incorporating not only Beres Hammond "Tempted To Touch", but Cutty Ranks' "Love Mi Haffi Get" DJ-counterpart as well, as well as Gregory Isaacs' "Number One", the singer whose voice Dr.Ring-Ding can mimicry so well, that closing your eyes would suffice to believe the Cool Ruler is actually on stage. A surprise inclusion was Inner Circle's "Sweat" before closing a very convincing performance with a German - literally translated - version of John Holt's tune. And that was the moment after two very fine performances of Bobby Buster & Ill Inspecta and Dr.Ring-Ding backed by the Pionear and Marco Baresi-led Germaicans to clear the stage for the change-over to highly expected superstar of German reggae Gentleman's set-up, while Kid Loki and Peanut Vendor took over the soundsystem again.

For an audience that from the first notes of the musical intro by the Far East Band was heading for a big celebration led by Gentleman, who started with the consious "Blessings From Jah" before the first full track "See Dem Coming", followed by "Jah Ina Yuh Life", two wicked tracks from his latest studio album "Journey To Jah" where the latter is used for an aborted introduction of the members of the Far East Band, the band that rose as a phoenix from the ashes of the ska-reggae then dancehall band Messer Banzani, once musical home to both Leander 'Pionear' Topp and his cousin Tom. Following is the new tune "Why Yuh Cry", before Tamika is featured alongside Gentleman on "Rainy Days", and a new tune "Take No More" is played. One of the live 'show-stoppers' "Fire Ago Bun Dem" is up next, and is used to genuinely introduce the members of Leipzig-own, the Far East Band. Another new tune, from Gentleman's forthcoming album, his third studio album and fourth in total, after debut "Trodin On", the aforementioned "Journey To Jah", and the very well received simply "Live" titled 2CD and DVD set. The new album is scheduled to be released in September and features this brand new crisp "Trust In You" which is as much appreciated by the massive as his better known tunes, and then the limelight is taken by the other backing singer Mamadee, who does a tune called "Knock Pon My Door". Another new tune is "For The Children" in which Gentleman to full effect incorporates Sizzla's "Dry Cry / Just One Of Those Days" before another fresh one hits the ears "Send A Prayer". Gentleman's great take on Pow Pow's 'Shanty Town'-riddim "Rumours" is well received by a crowd that only gets further into the festive mood already capturing it. In my opinion the next tune by Tamika "Rise & Shine" is one too many 'breaking the spell', because the power of Gentleman's own tunes is so much bigger as is especially shown on the heels of "In This Time" by a great tribute to the dearly missed nu roots singer the late Garnett Silk, with a medley including "Zion In A Vision" and "Complaint". "Man Of My Own", recorded with Morgan Heritage for "Journey To Jah" is a new addition to the live set, and very well received too. As has been the case at most of his performances, Gentleman and his tight Far East Band leave the stage after another splendid rendition of Dem Gone". Of course the crowd was begging for more, and they were rewarded for their enthusiasm by Gentleman and The Far East Band returning on stage and immediately starting to play the immensely popular "Runaway" over the excellent 'Celebrate'-riddim (another tune produced by Pow Pow's Ingo Rheinbay).

The tune that was used to close almost every single live show over the last few years makes the message clear, that the live segment of Germaican Link Up! is reaching it's end, a great performance by Gentleman and The Far East Band finishes with "Leave Us Alone". Like it happened some days before this show during his Dutch shows - on which Gentleman during a short conversation after the show looked back with a smile and a very good feeling, because they went almost as mad as here in Germany - and much to the joy of everyone it didn't stop there, and Gentleman did not leave us alone, but returned one last time for an acapella sing-a-long version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". Wicked way, to end a wicked evening, and get every one in a reflective mood, before ramming dancehall.

Because the 5 biggest soundsystems of Germany were still scheduled to lead the way at the start of what should have become a long night. First soundsystem to keep the vibes built up flowing was Cologne's Kingstone, with former Soundquake selector, and surprise performer earlier on the evening alongside Bobby Buster and Ill Inspecta, Lazy Youth now working with his hands instead of chatting in the mic, spinning the discs alongside MC Rodney. One hour full of entertainment, before they handed over their spots behind the wheels of steel to the internationally still best known sound from Germany, another Cologne based sound, former World Clash contestant, Euro Clash winner and production camp behind such big riddims as 'Celebrate', 'Shanty Town' and 'Blaze' the mighty Pow Pow Movement around Ingo Rheinbay. The atmosphere in the soundsystem hall was as great as it had been in the live-stage hall all evening, and Pow Pow's one hour set certainly contributed to those vibes. And it still was not the right moment to look back, but straight ahead, because shortly after 2 AM the next sound stepped up. Probably the sound currently whose reputation is spreading even quicker than that of Sentinel, the sound that also owns the biggest online-reggaeshop in Europe, the sound that like the two earlier sounds also is based no more than a 40 minutes drive from the Dutch/German border, from Detmold/Lage Soundquake took over, to provide another hour of dancehall as it should be played. Unfortunately, before Germany's current international clash sound (they were scheduled to clash in Rome just a week after this Germaican Link Up! against Gramigna hosted and early warm up (!) by One Love Hi Powa and only lost the dance to the Italian massive's bias) with it's own wartanker Elmar could blow away the massive, the everlasting sound from Stuttgart Sentinel, also probably the only real top ranking sound currently with a female selector (Nadia) had to lower the volume to keep the dance going.

Sound Systems taking over to keep the vibes flowing.

Even worse, before THE German foundation sound, from Berlin, also the always best up to date and most reliable source I personally know for clash and mix CDs on the continent currently, Supersonic could take over, the promoter went on stage, to tell (to the disappointment of the people still dancing and enjoying the sounds) that it was to be curfew, the police wanting the dancehall fi stop. This sparked great joy in Sentinel's Elmar, who immediately after bringing the promoter on stage to big him up, started bragging and challenging the Supersonic crew, telling them Sentinel now turned the headliner instead of Supersonic. After a friendly fight over the mike and the turntables, it was agreed that Supersonic would play a final tune, and with a fine speech for the last time congratulating and thanking Pionear by Supersonic's Panza the way was paved for a special on the 'Arena'-riddim. I can only say I'm looking forward already to the 2005 edition of Germaican Link Up! This well organized 2004 edition has been a superb tribute to 5 years of Germaican Records. I can only do the same now as many of the people on stage have done. Congratulations to Pionear on 5 wonderful years of Germaican Records, wishing another 5 or better 50 years of even more great and successful riddims, and thanks to all artists and sounds for the 5 years already bygone and this wicked party to celebrate it.

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