June 23, 2012
Disc 1 (Dancehall)
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
In 1998 Mr. Vegas got his giant breakthrough with a series of exciting singles such as "Yu Sure", "Jack It Up", "Latest News" and his first hit, the Jeremy Harding produced "Nike Air" on the "Playground" riddim. However it was "Heads High" on the "Filthy" riddim that took the dance halls by storm and, 18 months after its release, set the UK Pop Charts alight. Actually this tune with its undeniable hook over the creeping bass line reached #1 in five continents ad #69 in the US R&B chart.
Born Clifford Smith in Kingston JA, Mr. Vegas developed a passion for music at an early age. It was customary for aspiring high school age singers to gather during lunch break to test new lyrics and share their talents with classmates. His passion developed during these sessions when he noted female classmates would regularly attend without demonstrating any interest in lunch. Still, his first recording session was dead end when te mix he had paid for with money that was supposed to be used for an international visa was never mixed properly and the song went nowhere. The rest is history...
Now being an international reggae dancehall star, Mr. Vegas is a force to reckon with as is once again shown with the release of his piece de resistance, the dbl cd "Sweet Jamaica". Released on his own imprint, MV Music, and produced together with Mikey Bennett, this set fully expresses what Jamaican popular music is all about: dancehall ŕnd reggae music. Disc 1 features 16 electrifying up-to-the-time dancehall tunes including several recent hit tunes, while the other disc is packed with tunes that go into the territory of real roots reggae and lovers rock. For many other artists such a project probably wouldn't work because their fanbase consists of either dancehall purists or a reggae oriented audience. Throughout his successful career Mr. Vegas has carved a niche for himself in both music scenes as we may not forget that he also scored a big hit in 2000 with his cover of Gabrielle's "Rise".
Dancehall niceness gets started with the infectious "Beautiful Life" on the "BBQ" riddim, and comes to an end with a swinging live version of his 2009 smash hit "I Am Blessed" on the "Good Life" riddim. In between the listener is treated to quite a few winners. The latter include current hit "Bruk It Down", the humorous "Certain Law", an ode to manly values on the "Barbwire" riddim, the anti-bleaching "Black And Proud", reminiscent of Nardo Ranks' "Dem A Bleach" on the "Bam Bam" aka "Murder She Wrote" riddim, "Honey Girl", and "Champagne Rosé" on a remake of Shane 'Shines' Richards' "Black Widow" riddim from 1998, on which he originally delivered "Big Things A Gwaan". Although they aren't mentioned here, most of the remaining tracks on this disc are also worth hearing.
Then it's time to insert disc two in the cd player for a delightful portion of reggae and lovers tunes that not only includes fresh material but also early reggae and rocksteady covers and do-overs. It starts with "A Little Love", an infectious rendition of Jimmy London's remake of Eddy Arnold's "That's All I Want From You", followed by "You've Made Me So Very Happy", Alton Ellis's cover of the Brenda Holloway soul tune from 1967. Other well known covers on this disc are Hopeton Lewis' pioneering rocksteady piece "Take It Easy" and Toots & The Maytals' "Sweet And Dandy". Real fine and entertaining do-overs are the bittersweet "Things Ruff" on Jimmy Cliff's classic "You Can Get It If You Really Want", the great herb tune "Gimme A Light" on Desmond Dekker's "Israelites", and "Roses In My Garden" on Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby". Also great to hear are the collaborations "Alive & Well" (with Luciano) and the anthemic title track "Sweet Jamaica" (with Shaggy & Josey Wales). The only fall down is Mr. Vegas' cover of The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da".
Both dancehall fans and reggae aficionados can't go wrong with Mr. Vegas' "Sweet Jamaica".