Put The Stereo On
September 18, 2010
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
"Daddy, please I beg you, put the stereo on, take out a 45 and play the Studio One."
This sentence (from the song Put The Stereo On) says it all. It's about music, foundation music, nothing more, nothing less. Newcomer Gappy Ranks makes his debut with this crucial album, exploring the music that was popular during the 60s and 70s in Jamaica and the UK. Gappy Ranks' vocal delivery is powerful, more deejay than singer. He's able to sing like Romain Virgo, but also capable of toasting like Busy Signal. He enjoyed some success as part of the UK group Suncycle who were into hip hop-influenced dancehall.
The sound of this album comes from the production team of Chris and Duke Price, both from London based Peckings Records. They are sons of British reggae pioneer George Price, better known as Peckings. He moved to the UK in 1960. Being a good friend of Coxsone Dodd, it allowed him to establish himself as the top supplier of Jamaican music. In 1974 he opened up his legendary record shop in Askew Road, West London, which quickly became an essential call for all reggae fans, as it remains today. He passed away in 1994, but his legacy lives on in his sons. They debuted as producers with Bitty McLean's top notch album 'On Bond Street', while they also gained respect with the two various artists 'Old Skool Young Blood' volumes and with Peter Hunnigale's 'Free Soul' album. They have a special feel for reworking those old Studio One and Treasure Isle riddims, one feels they respect and honour the music, and the result sounds as authentic as possible.
The album opens with a recut of the 'Step It Out' riddim called Mountain Top. It's a solid roots tune and was Gappy Ranks' initial hit for the legendary Peckings crew. It is followed by the huge hit Heaven In Her Eyes which rides the 'Soul Rebel' riddim. The riddim returns at the end of the album when Gappy Ranks teams up with Nereus Joseph for the combination song Soul Rebel. Key tune Put The Stereo On grabs you, no way to escape and it's hard to point out a more compelling version of Jackie Mittoo's 'Hot Milk' riddim. Big Tune!
Want more big tunes? Check out Pumpkin Belly, not the Tenor Saw cut, but Gappy Ranks redo of '54-46 Was My Number' from Toots & The Maytals. Immortal lick! Next comes Happiest Day Of My Life. Here we see him in a more romantic mood. Having access to the wealth of Treasure Isle riddims Gappy Ranks picked a rather unknown riddim for this song. It's by Ken Parker who topped the charts in 1972 with his tune 'Can't Hide'. Excellent choice!
The tempo goes down with the next Treasure Isle riddim reworking called Musical Girl. Gappy Ranks adds with a slight vocoder effect enough flavour to the riddim to make it a topnotch effort. Track 7, A Little Understanding, takes the listener to the works of the late great Dennis Brown. Here he reworks the song 'A Little Bit More' and calls it A Little Understanding, which happens to be an awesome roots tune. By the way, this one's produced by C & R Mcleod for their Stingray imprint. Thy Shall Love is a heartical cry out for more love, not only for yourself, but also for one another.
Heavy Load is produced by Frenchie for his own Maximum Sound label and is an updated version of Bunny Lee's 'Creation Rebel' riddim and it forms the musical basis for Gappy Ranks' powerful toasting. On Rude Boy he spits out his vocals across a dubbed up vintage riddim.
This album is a must listen for all who say they are into reggae. It's a version excursion thing, but with more than enough contemporary elements to please the modern reggae fan.