Tuff Gong Blues
Soulfire Artists-Rough Trade
June 15, 2007
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3|
Pierpoljak, whose real name is Pierre
Villemet, was born on September 7 1964 in Paris, France, and was brought
up in Colombes, in the suburbs. He had a difficult adolescence which led
him into skinhead-punk tendencies in the mid seventies. His debut in music
was as a bass guitarist in the group Samu 92. All this naturally led him
to London, the birthplace of this violent, aggressive musical trend, in
1981 the word was "No Future". It was in a squat in Stockwell that Pierre
discovered Reggae, Toots and the Maytals and Desmond Dekker, thanks to his
Jamaican fellow-squatters. It was a revelation to him. On his return to
France, followed by an "interlude" in Fleury-Merogis prison, he decided to
go to the Caribbean. He therefore joined the crew of a boat carrying
extremely varied goods, and navigated between the French Antilles and
Dominica, which he was particularly fond of. On his return to France, he
became known in the Parisian underground movement as Brada Peter, then as
Peter Pan. He sold his first two tracks in 94 in a compilation by
"Earthquake" with tracks by artists like Saï Saï and Tonton David. The
(major) Barclay label notices it and proposes to him to produce his first
album "In Jamaica", and thus in 1995 Pierre Villemet becomes
Encouraged by the acclaim from the public, he leaves for Jamaica to record a second opus "Kingston Karma", under the baton of Clive Hunt in the legendary Tuff Gong studios with local players such as Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace on drums or Earl "China" Smith on guitar. Not less than one million copies will be sold. Continuing his breakthrough in the French music scene, Pierpoljak undertook to demonstrate the pure dimension of Gallic Reggae and associated with other artists in 2000. Aided by Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace, the Jamaican Reggae star, he formed and led a group of artists uniting young promising performers such as Flamengo, Asher, Dynamik and Mathieu Ruben and a few old veterans such as Daddy Yod, Supa John, Daddy Mory (who used to be known as Raggasonic) and Pablo Master. Together they recorded "+2coeur=soleil". Then, the French reggae-man went on to prepare his own next album and travelled to Kingston, where he worked with Clive Hunt. Unfaithful to his usual work method, Pierpoljak arrived in Jamaica with pre-written songs. Entitled "Je Fais C'que J'veux", this album is another tribute to Reggae music, but it also bears more personal notes. Indeed, such tracks as "Né Dans Les Rues De Paris" or "Dépareillé", the first single on the album, actually deal with the singer's biography.
Unfortunately, during the promotion for this album - which was a huge success - a double 'gold status', Pierpoljak fell ill and was hospitalised. The singer then started to seriously question his musical direction. The 'babyloneries' as he calls them, began to get him down, and he decided to leave. His journey began in Fort de France (Martinique), followed by the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and many more places. However, while passing through Grenada, he caught a few bars of some local reggae on the radio, and his musical spark was rekindled. After four months of not touching the guitar, the rasta took up singing and playing again. Back in Paris he was raring to go. Surrounded by good vibes, he rediscovered the joys of reggae songs, and composing. Highly prolific, he produced endless amounts of material. At the beginning of 2003, he arrived at the Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston Town, Jamaica. In September 2003, his fourth album "Stim Turban" was released. The artist wanted it to be totally authentic, without frills, and thoroughly imbued with the spirit of roots. Unlike his previous work, Pierpoljak didn’t want to make use of the legendary producer Clive Hunt, and set out to do everything (from composing to mixing) on his own - well, almost -. In fact, he was helped by the best musicians on the island, and this group became "Stim Turban", which also gave its name to the album. Before recording his next album, the 'General PK' toured various festivals and concert venues, both on the French and international circuit. Recently, in 2006, he released the album "Je Blesserai Personne", for which he called on Jamaican DJ Elephant Man, on the title "Scandal Bag", but also on Ivory Coast's Tiken Jah Fakoly, on the title "If, If".
And now Soulfire Records releases his latest album, contrary to his other releases an album with English lyrics, recorded once more with Clive Hunt, and with a whole selection of Jamaican artists contributing (Doniki allegedly contributing the English lyrics). The first tune on this album is his already very well known lovers combination with Lisa Danger a.k.a. Lisa Dainjah "Ready Anytime" that appeared for the first time on his 1998 album "Kingston Karma" with Lisa's chatting in the style of Sister Nancy and Sister Carol counteracting Pierpoljak's sweet singing, followed by the plaintive wailing of "Calling" and the fine combination with Jr. Kelly "Shining Light". The exceptional non strictly roots is the combination "Scandal Bag" with Elephant Man (for which a nice video has been shot) taken from the 2006 album "Je Blesserai Personne", though it's acoustic guitar riddim driven tune can hardly be called hardcore dancehall, yet is a extremely nice catchy tune, with Elephant Man clearly in the supporting role, Pierpoljak singing beautifully throughout the tune (in French that is).
After a very convincing take on Dennis Brown's seminal "Money In My Pocket" Horace Andy joins him for the beautiful dubbed up "Want No Heat" and on his own Pierpoljak wails the wonderful rootsy love gone wrong tune do you have a "Little Time" for me. Anthony B. is in very fine form contributing to "Poor Man" before Pierpoljak delivers the absolutely stunning chant "War For Jah Land" that is reminiscent of Burning Spear's classic "Jah No Dead" and the fine "Frenchtown". Female DJ K Queens contributes her English lyrics deejaying in CéCile's vain to "Allez Les Filles" recorded in 2003 and released 4 years ago on the album "Stim Turban" followed by solo piece "Hardwork".
Lisa Danger is featured once more on this album (and should be recorded more often in my opinion) in the beautiful anti Babylon combination one day feast "Six Days Famine" and then "Dem Ya Kind" is the last tune on this fine (and thanks to the featured artists in the combinations versatile) Pierpoljak album. This first international album by this French reggae veteran certainly can be recommended.