Rain Or Sunshine
Colin B
Spice Isle-Cou$ins Records
July 11, 2006

Track list
  1. Reggae Keeping Us Alive
  2. Body Hot
  3. Thank You Father
  4. Before You
  5. Run Around Girl
  6. Suspicious Minds
  7. Rain Or Sunshine
  8. My Soldiers
  9. Come Roll With Me
  10. I Apologise
  11. To Be Loved By You
  12. Keep It Real
  13. Wake Up Call
  14. Get Together
  15. No One Is An Island feat. Desrene
    Hidden Bonus Track (after 5:22)
  16. Rain Or Sunshine (UK Slow Jam Mix)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4/5
Following the dropping of two albums on the heels of each other in the Rhythm 2 Rhythm Series in august last year, with its 4th volume 'Watch This Sound & What A Feeling' and its 5th "Volume 5 ~ Warrior Charge & Drum Song", Cou$ins Records producer Donville Davis - who had already proven he's capable of relicking classic riddims in fine style with 'Rocksteady & Beatitude' and the strong various artists albums "Strictly One Drop Vol. 1", "JA 2 UK Singers Vol. 3" and last year also "A Tribute 2 Studio One & Treasure Isle Records" - also showed a nose for picking the right riddims to license on the three various artists compilations, as "Strictly One Drop Vol. 1"'s inclusion of CJ James 'Without Love'-riddim and of course Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett's 'Heavenly' and then on 'Mo-Bay' & 'Desperate Lover' two riddims from Byron Murray's In The Streetz label were featured, strange as it may seem with In The Streetz not only being an outlet for Byron Murray's own productions like the very successful first attempt at a one drop 'Street Swing' but through their Rhythm Streetz Series Byron Murray (and Mr. Vegas) also released on CD and LP some extremely successful riddims by other extremely hot producers. Then Cou$ins Records released its 8th volume of the Rhythm 2 Rhythm Series "From Creation / Real Iron" compiling two older selections from UK producer Steve Martin a.k.a. Blacker Dread with the 'Real Iron' from 2003 and 'From Creation' from 1998 (though earlier in 1984 recorded). Now Cou$ins records has just released their latest fantastic "JA 2 UK Volume 4" but this review deals with a phenomenal album that has somewhat disappeared in the flood of releases when it came out in 2006, yet still should get the attention it deserves.

As the in Hackney, East London born (and mainly raised) Colin Burns a.k.a. Colin B on this "Rain Or Sunshine" aims to do the same for early Bunny Lee riddims as Bitty McLean did for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle riddims on "Peckings Presents... On Bond Street With The Supersonics" and "Made In Jamaica" as well as the Peckings compilation "Old Skool Young Blood Volume 1" and (the also English) Blackstones did on "Tribute To Studio 1", the last album recorded and produced at Studio One under the tutelage of the late great Sir Clement Coxsone Dodd and with "Greater Power" for both Studio One and Treasure Isle. And the most surprising thing is that Colin B succeeds in doing so reviving the riddims released on Bunny Lee's Jackpot, Unity and Attack labels putting new lyrics in new songs over these riddims. Throughout his youth, Colin was surrounded by, and immersed in music. In fact, he grew up in a household with siblings who were musically inclined. Freddie Clark even had a couple of tunes that made it into the reggae charts. In the 1980's a younger brother, little Clarkie also dented the charts on a couple of occasions. Colin's biggest musical influences are Jacob Miller, Dennis Brown and Johnny Clark and especially the influence of the latter two is clearly audible throughout the album in both his tone of voice and style of delivery. He opens this album, produced by Spice Isle's Jude Stewart, with the strong self-penned tribute to our music "Reggae Keeping Us Alive" that never sounds out of place on this album alongside the other tracks over classic and lesser known but wonderful Bunny Lee riddims, but that still is only the harbinger of what is about to be on this album.

The first riddim used is leading off 3 Delroy Wilson riddims in a row ,"Stick By Me" from 1971, for the sweet love (or is it lust) song "Body Hot" followed by Colin B giving thanks and praises in "Thank You Father" over the riddim of 1974's "Never Give Up (Big Man In Town)" and the superb "Before You" over the riddim Delroy Wilson used for his combination "I Want To Love You" with Stranger Cole. "Run Around Girl" uses a brilliant rocksteady riddim with great piano riffs originally used for Pat Kelly's "How Long" in 1969 on which Colin B's delivery is again flawless, it's really hard to believe that the whole reggae world slept over such a strong album by such a good singer, who continues with "Suspicious Minds" (not the Elvis Presley tune) over the most rootsy lovers sound of Cornell Campbell's "Natural Facts" a.k.a. "They Haven't The Right" from 1973 and the excellent title track "Rain Or Sunshine" that was originally used by the Tennors' Ronnie Davis (credited on the label in 1973 as Romey Pickett) for "My World". And like the earlier mentioned Peckings productions and Blackstones tunes, all these tunes sound fresh and crisp yet authentic as if they were voiced more than 30 years ago, a great accomplishment by Colin B and his producer Jude Stewart (and Donville Davis of Cou$ins). The next riddim not just is but also makes you immediately think of a Cornell Campbell tune, which is justified by the fact that the riddim used here is Cornell's "Two Face Rasta" from 1975 for the call for peace "My Soldiers" followed by the splendid "Come Roll With Me" over the Bunny Lee version (used for Jackie Edwards relick of the Larry Marshall tune) of 'Mean Girl' a.k.a. 'I Need A Roof' and "I Apologise" on which Colin B's smooth singing explaining i was tempted by all those sweets / i know i was not supposed to eat reminisces of early Aswad over the riddim of Cornell Campbell's "Gorgon" from 1975.

For the wonderful "To Be Loved You" the riddim for Cornell Campbell's 1975 Bunny Lee produced version of Delroy Wilson's 1969 High Note recording of "I'm The One That Lovers You" is used and for "Keep It Real" the riddim of Ronnie Davis (again as Romey Pickett released) take on "Every Nigger Is A Star" called "Every Rasta Is Star" from 1974 is used. It's the magic combination of these riddims with the extremely convincing voice and the ability to write and deliver completely new melodies on top of these riddims of Colin B that makes this album so impressive, as is made clear once more in the magnificent "Wake Up Call" over the riddim of Slim Smith' "Burning Desire" and the plea to his girl to (finally) settle down with him "Get Together" over the Bunny Lee version of Horace Andy's seminal 1972 Studio One tune "Skylarking" (over which Horace recut the song in 1975 for Bunny Lee's Jackpot label). The last official tune on this album is a tribute to one of the main vocal influences of Colin B (although I'd say the influence of Johnny Clarke is even bigger), a cover of Dennis Brown's 1970 Studio One scorcher "No One Is An Island" alongside the unknown but great sounding songstress Desrene set over a new riddim, that of the Melodian's Tony Brevett "Took Me By Surprise" from 1972. And after a little silence there's a hidden bonus reprise of the title track "Rain Or Sunshine" in a "UK Slow Jam Mix" that is as captivating as the tunes over classic riddims. It's the combination of great songwriting, sweet vocals, classic riddims all combined to near perfection that ranks this album alongside the earlier mentioned Peckings and Blackstones albums, being a must buy album who was as impressed by those efforts as I was. It's almost impossible to understand why this album hasn't gained much more attention when it was released two years ago, but this is your chance to buy it and then spread the word!