Rasta At Di Kontrol
Watty Burnett
WorldBeat Projam
March 11, 2012

Track list
  1. Dress To Kill
  2. Ska Music
  3. Rasta At Di Kontrol
  4. Universal Blood
  5. It's A Shame
  6. Vatican's Army
  7. Last Calling
  8. Snakes And Dragons
  9. Rainy Night In Georgia
  10. War Goes On
  11. Young Lions
  12. The Boll Weevil Song
  13. Going Home
  14. Primitive Reggae
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
Watty Burnett (born Derrick Burnett, early 1950s in Port Antonio, Jamaica) has been long active in the Jamaican music scene. As part of a duo, with Jimmy Nelson, - called the Soul Twins or Jimmy & Derrick - he teamed up in Kingston with Lee "Scratch" Perry in the late 1960s, who produced their debut single "Pound Get A Blow" (1968). Watty Burnett remained since then - on and off - connected to Perry and the Black Ark studio, right though the roots reggae heyday of the 1970s. He was both an instrumentalist (bass, percussion) as well as a singer at Black Ark. Burnett has a rich, baritone (bass) voice which he lend to several recordings, most well known as backing vocalist on the legendary Congos' "Heart Of The Congos" album. He also sang backing on, for instance, the album "Exodus" by Bob Marley, and for others. He continued to record backing vocals - and occasional lead - for the Congos in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming more or less a member of this band, also after the Congos' reuniting in 2006. Having heard songs by him, also on albums of The Congos, I had an idea of Burnett's own style. His baritone vocals combined with a meditative "vibe" in line with the Congos.

This solo album - "Rasta At Di Kontrol" -, from 2010, is partly different; Burnett's creativity evolved so to speak under more modern (dancehall) influences. Regarding production it sounds more modern throughout. It is a varied and experimental album, with different stylistic influences, presenting thus a sort of overview of Jamaican music and other influences. There are even modern, poppy/rock inclinations here and there, at which some may balk, especially when expecting a rootsy Congos vibe. This is only on some songs though. Other songs do have that rootsy vibe, sometimes in an experimental manner. "It's A Shame", "Last Calling", and "Snakes & Dragons" are the most rootsy songs. These are all nice, with "It's A Shame" (reminding of the Congos) being I think the best composition. The sincere, semi-acoustic "Young Lions" is also solid. His tribute to ska, "Ska Music", is very nice, probably even for non-ska fans.

In addition, Burnett shows on this album he can aptly adapt to dancehall. To this the strong, vibrant dancehall tune - with Rasta lyrics - "Vatican's Army" attests. Groovy! Also the dancehall influence on a few other tracks, such as the title track and "Universal Blood" works well. Whatever the subgenre, the musicianship as well as the production sound great, probably due to the involvement of experienced and quality reggae musicians Sly Dunbar, Ansel Collins, Dean Frazier, Robbie Lyn, Sticky Thompson and others. Also the reason why this album, while modern, does not sound too "digital".

The variation, interesting baritone vocals of Burnett, the conscious lyrics, and the quality music makes most of this album good. In my opinion, though, not all songs are equally good. The (too?) fast "War Goes On" is experimental in a somewhat strange way, as is the even worse, odd "The Boll Weevil Song" with an annoying ("rock") electric guitar. The cover "Rainy Night In Georgia" is okay, but not more than that.

The best songs in my opinion are "It's A Shame", "Vatican's Army", "Last Calling", and "Ska Music". But some other nice songs, and the variation and sense of experimentation throughout, somehow kept me engaged, despite a few weaker moments, especially in the album's second half.

The Abyssinians : Reunion
The album 'The Abyssinians-Reunion' is a decent set with interesting, conscious lyrics.