United States Of Africa
July 28, 2010
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
Luciano - which means the bearer of light - is undeniably an ambassador for Jah, who's always committed to the survival of roots reggae. Since the release of his landmark CD in 1995, "Where There Is Life", he has recorded over 40 albums, many of them being regarded as true roots classics.
Justifiably known to many as The Messenger aka The Messenjah, Luciano, born Jepther Washington McClymont in Davey Town, Jamaica on December 20, 1974, was raised singing in the choir at an Adventist church and as Luciano grew older, he began rocking the mic at local dances and youth clubs. At the age of 17 he made his first recordings for producer Earl Hughes, but it was with Sky High from Mau Mau Productions that he got the opportunity to release his work on an album, although under the name Luciana. After working with Sky High he moved on to Castro Brown's "New Name" label before he teamed up with reggae vet Freddie McGregor, which resulted in the release of an album entitled "Shake It Up Tonight" aka "After All".
However, his real breakthrough came when he met Xterminator label head and producer Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell. It was a series of trend-defying Xterminator singles that pushed his career in the right direction as they made his name and fame grow. It actually resulted in the release of his first Xterminator album "Moving Up". In the years that followed Luciano rose to the top and undoubtedly became one of the major forces in developing modern cultural music. Luciano's association with Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell and musicians like Sly & Robbie, The Firehouse Crew and Dean Fraser played an important role in Luciano's stages of development.
His latest effort, the follow-up to the Dean Fraser produced "Jah Is My Navigator" from 2008, is called "United States Of Africa", and without doubt it's one of his best albums ever. It is filled with rootical tunes and sees The Messenjah in fine style as he comments on situations and events he encounters. Production credits go to ace producer Frenchie of Maximum Sound Productions. Musicians on board are Sly & Robbie's Taxi Gang, The Firehouse Crew and UK Riddim twins Mafia & Fluxy. They provide a wicked and authentic backing for The Messenjah's vocal outings.
The track Invasion was released as a 7" single. It uses Ernest Wilson's 1978 hittune "I Know Myself" as pumping background. The riddim was rebuilt by Frenchie and he called it "I Know My Herbs". The single Be Aware is also present on this album. It's a solid track across Frenchie's "Vineyard Town" riddim, also voiced by Capleton and Lukie D, to name but a few. The album opener is United States Of Africa, a typical Luciano tune penned by another roots singer, Duane Stephenson. Footstool is underpinned by Johnny Osbourne's "Fally Ranking" riddim, tackling the '400 years in Babylon' theme. Top-notch tune!
Ine Kamoze's tune "World A Music" was revived -- with maximum success! -- by Damian "Jr Gong" Marley some years ago. Frenchie created his version of the riddim in 2005 and Luciano was one of the artists to voice the riddim. His cut With A No Like We No Like Them is an above average piece. Although the riddim was laid by Sly & Robbie in the '80s, here the Fire House Crew takes over in good style. Interesting is the tune Moving On. The riddim track is courtesy of Duke Reid and West London based producer Chris Peckins. It uses the riddim of the Paragons hit "Only A Smile" and just adds a little background vocals by Leba Hibbert and Jude Cole. The same goes for Hosanna. It's Luciano's rendition of Burning Spear's "Creation Rebel" riddim, produced by Bunny Lee and uses the original Aggrovators backdrop. Frenchie also voiced Anthony B, Chezidek and Fantan Mojah (in combination with Johnny Clarke) on the riddim.
There's one song here that is really different from the rest. The ballad Only Jah Can Save Us Now is Luciano's heartfelt cry out to Jah, The Almighty, the only one who can save us. Worthwhile a couple of spins! The duet Another Terrorist Attack with Fantan Mojah is a perfect closing of the album. The song uses Bob Marley's "Zion Train" as riddim.
As said before, United States Of Africa is one the best sets Luciano has put out. He doesn't break any new ground on this album, but delivers a consistent collection of top-notch tunes.