Children Of The Ghetto
Winston Jarrett
Jah Shaka Music
September 7, 2015

Track list
  1. Food In The Pot
  2. Praises Unto HIM
  3. Jah Is My Guiding Star
  4. Arise
  5. Nah Run
  6. Children Of The Ghetto
  7. Africa Is Calling
  8. Rastaman Chant
  9. Liberation
  10. Runaway
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Winston Jarrett is a talented Jamaican singer and musician who begun as a member of Alton Ellis's group The Righteous Flames in the early 1960s. After Ellis left for Britain (1969), Jarrett formed a new band, and also started recording as a solo artist. He has proven to be a quite versatile artist, showing quite some diversity - and high quality - in his songwriting. He varied from a crucial, authentic Roots Reggae sound, with classic, great Roots songs like "Humble Yourself", "Wise Man", or "Selah", to songs with Lovers Rock influences, folksy, or Dancehall influences. He has an own distinctive singing style, which is raw, "chanting", but at the same time soulful and emotive.

He employs these vocals, and his overall style on this 2006 album, "Children Of The Ghetto", in a collaboration with legendary UK reggae artist-producer Jah Shaka. It is also a collaboration in the sense that most of the songs are co-written by Jarrett and Jah Shaka. The music throughout has that typical Jah Shaka vibe and "sound", more or less defining the UK (Steppers a.o.) Sound, including a digital feel and echoed snare drums: instantly recognizable as the Jah Shaka sound. This album is however recorded in Jamaica.

The question is, of course, does this combination work on this album? It took me some time getting used to, to be honest. It is a good sound, in and by itself, and there is a lot of musical creativity involved, with quality musicians like Flabba Holt (bass), Skully (percussion), and Deadly Headly (horns), adding nice touches to Jah Shaka's vintage (modern/UK) sound.

Jarrett's vocals are good, though some songs seem melodically simpler and a bit more repetitive than his earlier songs. Though this rendered some catchy choruses, it is a bit too simple on some songs. "Food In The Pot", "Praises Unto HIM" are among the more catchy tunes here, while "Nah Run" is one of the best songs, in my opinion, on this album: the vocals and music just combine a bit better on it. Other songs are nice, but a bit too repetitive, I think, or in some cases even derivative. Some may recognize melodies from other sources: a sung line on the song "Arise" reminds very much of Bunny Wailer's "Amagidion". You also hear echoes of Ras Michael's "Birds In The Treetops" (on "Liberation"), and the line known from Jorge Ben's (1966) Brazilian classic "Mas Que Nada" (or partly Dennis Brown´s "Tribulation"), on "Rastaman Chant". Yet, when well used, borrowed melodies can of course be put to good effect, as Jarrett of course had done before in his earlier work. Only it is at times a bit too repetitive on this album. The title track, by the way, is a reworking of Jarrett's own earlier song "Dread Natty Reggae".

Overall, the album has a nice, dynamic vibe, with nuff catchy melodic lines and groovy parts. The lyrics are consciously inspired and intelligent. I think, however, that this album is here and there a bit too monotonous and repetitive, whereas the music sounds too digital and "stale" at times, when compared to Jarrett's earlier, more complex and "organic"-sounding Roots songs.