Rougher Than The Rest
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Veteran deejay U Brown began his recording career in 1975, and has deejayed for leading sound systems in Jamaica including Sturgav and King Tubbys Hi Fi. During the 1970's he produced a string of albums for Bunny "Striker" Lee before forming his own "Hit Bound" label, releasing self produced classics like "Weather Balloon" (a number one chart hit in Jamaica) and many others. Like many Jamaican artists he worked for countless producers in Jamaica, scoring hits with tunes like "Tu Shung Peng," "Can't Take The Praise Without Raise," and "Train To Zion". In recent years he has toured extensively in Europe with the Blood and Fire sound system, and served his fans with compilations of his classic material. In 2000 London-based "Jah Warrior" Records released a deejay album titled "3 The Roots Way" featuring U Brown alongside his Blood & Fire sound system crew members Trinity & Ranking Joe.
Now resident in London, U Brown and producer Steve "Jah Warrior" Mosco decided to build on the popularity of their "3 The Roots Way" collaboration by recording an entire album of material. Featuring a combination of new tunes and deejay versions of Jah Warrior productions with other artists, "Rougher Than The Rest" features vocal contributions from veteran singers Rod Taylor, Alton Ellis, Prince Alla, Peter Broggs and Horace Andy, whilst musical contributions come from Steve Mosco (bas, piano, organ, keyboards), A. Millgate (drums), Jonah Dan (percussion), Jerry Lyons (guitar and percussion), Hughie Izachaar (guitar and melodica) and the renowned Crispy Horns.
Combining the talents of U Brown and producer Jah Warrior appears to be a winning formula as can be fully witnessed on this very enjoyable set. U Brown is in very good shape, lyrically and vocally spoken, and thus we get mostly solid and sometimes excellent efforts performed over expertly laid riddim tracks that bear the typical Jah Warrior sound. In comparison with the tracks he recorded for "3 The Roots Way" we are now treated to a lot more personal lyrics delivered in a powerful and energetic deejay/singjay style. The album kicks off with a solo cut, the wicked title track "Rougher Than The Rest" (a good example of the indicated personalised lyrics), which is backed up by a blistering riddim track. "Jah Is My Strength" makes a very strong impression and definitely belongs to the standout tracks of this album, one that keeps you involved till the very end. Matching solo pieces are the hip-hop flavored "Jammin Straight From Yard", the surprising "Ska Roots Rock" and the cd bonus track "Shine Your Light", the latter incorporating a decent reworking of the classic "Declaration Of Rights" riddim. Notable combination tunes are the beautiful "Youths! Take It Easy" with the legendary Alton Ellis and "Praise Rastafari", which features Peter Broggs' classic vocal from "Jah Golden Throne". Also worth of hearing are the DJ versions to the Prince Alla tracks "Upon Jah Mountain" ("Rasta Business Is No Joke") and "Glory" ("A Song unto Jah"), both delivered over riddims with serious bass lines.
In addition to the music there's a worthwhile 8 page interview with U Brown looking back on his musical heritage, memories and contributions to reggae music. It includes small portraits and stories of meeting and working with King Tubby, U Roy, Joe Gibbs and Bunny "Striker" Lee, to name a few.
You can order directly from Jah Warrior Records. Click HERE.