Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Vineyard
Capital Letters
Foxxy Music-Irie Records
CD
March 2, 2005

Track list
  1. Mus, Mus
  2. Murdering Style
  3. No Jobs
  4. Why
  5. Vinyard
  6. How Far
  7. Baggawolf
  8. Old, Old Wolf
  9. Africa Bound
  10. Fi Wi Parents
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 2/3
Strangely enough Wolverhampton's Capital Letters disappeared from the radar after delivering the extremely successful "Headline News" that was one of the first albums ever released by Greensleeves Records after beginning in modest circumstances as a record shop in West Ealing, London, in November 1975. A move to Shepherds Bush in 1977 saw the foundation of the thriving record label that is now based just west of London in Isleworth, Middlesex, with a sales and promotion office in New York. Kicking off with two 7" singles, Reggae Regular's "Where Is Jah" and Dr Alimantado's classic "Born For A Purpose", the Greensleeves label quickly established itself. Its first album, Dr Alimantado's "Best Dressed Chicken In Town", was a runaway success and has never been out of print since.

Capital Letters' seminal "Headline News" produced by Greensleeves' own Chris Cracknell was Greensleeves 7th, commercially successful and critically acclaimed album. Even the best books and guides on reggae these days (e.g. Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton's "Rough Guide To Reggae") end their lemma on Capital Letters stating how sad it is that despite a couple of fine 12"s appearing in the early 80s, Capital Letters never were able to record a follow up to "Headline News". But, with almost intact line-up of Danny McKen on vocals and guitar, Stewart Barrington's rhythm guitar, Dalton Harvey & Ray Lewis' backing vocals, Corbert Scarlett's lead guitar, Wenty Stewart's percussion, steadied by Roderick Garvey's drums and Junior Brown's bass, they went into the Recordway Studio in Frankfurt in Germany, with Laszlo Viragh sharing the production credits with the band in 1982, and they did record a successor for the Gulp-label, now available on Foxxy-Music, with exclusive distribution in Europe through Münster's Irie Records.

The most surprising thing you'll find out when listening to "Vinyard" is how it could get lost, and not be recognized as another masterpiece. It's got all the strengths of their debut album, the stuff we have come to know a lot of early 80s UK roots reggae for by the likes of Reggae Regular, Aswad, Steel Pulse and Misty In Roots: great harmonies, excellent songwriting, a combination of the African/Jamaican roots always present but at the same time firmly based inna Inglan as well, and always that little extra attention for details in the arrangements.

From its opener fire deh a "Mus, Mus" tail with its syncopated guitar, followed by the rockers influenced "Murder Style" and in the footsteps of The English Beat's "Get A Job" and UB40's "One In Ten", the superb "No Jobs" / redundancy / closing down down down it's clear that this is a very fine album. The slower "Why" must we fuss and fight over who is Jahoviah? is an excellent example of Capital Letters' vocal harmonies, bringing back memories of the best tunes of the Wailing Souls and the Mighty Diamonds. Great singing again dominates over the dubby instrumental in "Vinyard" praising the rain and sunshine sent by Jah to assist the growth. Dubby "How Far" reminds me in a way because of its backing of early Pablo Moses, the harmonies are still at that extremely high Wailing Souls, Mighty Diamonds and as far as UK groups are concerned Misty In Roots level. "Baggawolf", "Old, Old Owl, "Africa Bound" and the strong, in Burning Spear's style chanted "Fi Wi Parents" maintain that level, making this an excellent UK roots album, that certainly deserves to be included in any forthcoming editions of reggae books and guides even where UK reggae isn't more than just a small chapter.