The Living Legend
CD / Digital Release
September 11, 2015
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Jamaican veteran reggae and dancehall singer Junior Reid emerged in the early 1980's, but started to build up his name when he linked up with the legendary singer/producer and sound system owner Sugar Minott. He then quickly gained fame in Jamaica and dancehalls abroad with hits such as "Original Foreign Mind", "Cross Over The Border" and his take on Michael Jackson's "Human Nature". In 1986 he joined Black Uhuru, replacing Michael Rose as the lead vocalist for Black Uhuru on stage as well as on three albums; "Brutal", "Positive" and "Black Uhuru Live In New York".
He then left Black Uhuru and began struggling as a solo artist to fulfill his considerable potential with album releases like 1990's "One Blood" (with the title track, which represents the message of unity between human beings whether race, profession or creed, becoming his signature tune known), 1991's "Long Road", 1993's "Big Timer", and 1996's "Listen To The Voices". However, after "One Blood" Junior Reid didn't score any real hit single and also his albums didn't generate much response. His most notable tunes were deejay combinations, particularly Bounty Killer ("Seek God" and "World Too Haunted"). Then, the turn of the new century brought an entire new audience to his music when his vocals were used in the hip-hop scene. Junior Reid's catchy yet raw dancehall vocals debuted as a collaboration on the songs "One Blood Under Wu" and "Jah World" from "The W" album by the Wu-Tang Clan, followed by a next collaboration with Guru on the song "Mashing Up The World" on the album "Jaz Mattaz". He also collaborated with West Coast hip-hop artist Game on the song "It's Okay (One Blood)" and appeared on the Blackout remix of Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot" and Nino Brown's "Who Wan Test".
Now, more than a decade after the release of "Rasta Government", Junior Reid has finally released a brand new studio album entitled "The Living Legend". The latter features a whopping 20 tracks, which include previous released songs as well as fresh material. As one might expect from an artist who has to serve a diverse fanbase, "The Living Legend" isn't a straightforward reggae album, and thus the real reggae fan has to take a few hip-hop and R&B efforts for granted. The most interesting (and best) part of this album are the songs and chants that are clearly rooted in Jamaica's popular music. In particular tracks such as the solid "Same Boat", the outstanding "Blue Light, Red Light", the appealing "Where I Come From" and the huge "Mr Big Man" (reminiscent of his best works from the 1980's) are some of the best songs Junior Reid has recorded in a long time and can be regarded as a return to form. Also worth hearing is his rendition of Bob Marley's "Guiltiness".
Besides solo efforts, this album includes collaborations with Sizzla, Vybz Kartel, Buju Banton and Julian Marley. The latter is featured on the nice roots tune "Never Too Rough", which earlier appeared on Ghetto Youths International's compilation set "Set Up Shop Vol. 2". And also "Wanted", a storytelling tune done in combination with Buju Banton in 2001, has been previously released on 7" vinyl. "Gun Dem Load", featuring a guest appearance by Vybz Kartel, starts with nyabinghi drums before guitar, piano and a digital beat are added to create a hip-hop fueled riddim. However the best combination tune has to be "This Generation", with both Junior Reid and Sizzla being in real good shape, vocally as well as lyrically.
Although not every track is a winner (which can't be expected anyway when an album features 20 tracks), this new Junior Reid album contains nuff material worth hearing more than once.