Past And Present
Danny Red
Cou$ins Records / Black Arrow
November 10, 2008

Track list
  1. Contemplating Mind
  2. Jah Is Here
  3. Give Jah Praise
  4. Welcome
  5. Something Wrong
  6. Open The Gates
  7. Be Grateful
  8. Sweet Smile
  9. Pressure
  10. Roots She Roots
  11. Face Of A Lion
  12. Sons Of Jah
  13. Final Fight
  14. Get Rid A Dat
  15. We Can Pray
  16. I Don't Care
  17. Jah Art The Chapel
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3/4
Contrary to other Cou$ins Records artist albums, this "Past And Present" by Jamaican born UK (digi-)roots veteran Danny Red is not an album featuring the artist's tunes that appeared nor will appear on various one-riddim albums and other compilations on Cou$ins Records, but merely the licensed album that Danny Red himself produced for his own Ababa Jahnoi Muzek - not to be confused with the label of almost the same name that gaves us Joseph 'Culture' Hill's last "Raw Truth (EP)" and the 'Raw Truth' one-riddim album -. With a voice that reminds of early Burning Spear, Joseph 'Culture' Hill and Don Carlos all chanting and firm UK digi-roots and steppers riddims, this is a more than worthwile addition to any roots collection.

The album's opener is a very surprising choice, covering Barrington Spence's "Contemplating Mind", a rocksteady tune recorded in 1968 (backed by the Heptones) for Sir Coxsone Dodd at Studio One, like most of the tracks (except where indicated otherwise) backed by Mafia & Fluxy and recorded at their M&F Studios. The next tune "Jah Is Here", though sounding as Burning Spear chanting over a genuine UK digi-roots riddim has been recorded at Donovan Germain's Penthouse Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, followed by the less convincing "Give Jah Praise" that however comes over a wicked horn driven M&F roots riddim and "Welcome" on which Danny Red's vocals sound like a beautiful blend of Don Carlos' and Burning Spear's chanting style with the Burning Spear influence taking over in the wonderful song "Something Wrong".

Then Danny Red delivers a great rendition of Watty Burnett's classic 1977 Lee produced repatriation anthem "Open The Gates", before giving us the big 1993 Nick 'Manasseh' produced roots hit "Be Grateful" (that was on his major album "Riddimwise" for Columbia Records) and the excellent "Sweet Smile" over the wonderful 'How Could I Live'-riddim. "Pressure" recorded at Surr Zimma in the UK is less strong, but the upful "Roots She Roots" following it is a smashing lovers tune. As upful is "Face Of A Lion" before the vibe sways back to UK roots again, although recorded at Tuff Gong Studio the strong "Sons Of Jah". "Final Fight" is a strong tune and then "Get Rid A Dat" is completely different (but no less strong) from any other tune on the album.

A joyous gospel vibe dominates the fine "We Can Pray" recorded at Steely & Clevie's Studio 2000 and "I Don't Care", also recorded in Jamaica at Grafton Studio is equally gospel-influenced. The last tune on this first Danny Red album in 14(!) years - the time that has gone since he released "Riddimwise" - is the strongest of this string of gospel tunes closing the album, the swinging bluesy "Jah Art The Chapel" with an absolutely brilliant piano solo. This album is a great comeback by Danny Red as a recording artist and a must buy for all appreciating UK (digi-)roots.