Riddim Driven ~ Consuming Fire
VP Records
December 12, 2006

Track list
  1. Not Good At All - L'il Joe
  2. Do You - Tanya Stephens
  3. Blood On Dem Nozzle - Chuck Fender
  4. Dem A Thief And Liar - Anthony B
  5. Put All My Trust In Jah - Sizzla
  6. Care For Life - Natty King
  7. In Exchange For My Vote - Shantia
  8. Chanting - Katalys Crew
  9. Mighty God Is He - Luciano
  10. Sorry - Turbulence
  11. A Just So The World A Run - Yvad
  12. Speak Out - Heather Cumming
  13. Exit Wounds Of Your Love - Freddie McGregor
  14. I'm On Fire - J.C. Lodge
  15. Solutions - Bunny Rugs
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
One of the producers and labels that have played an important role in the history of Jamaican music is Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke and his "Music Works" imprint. Gussie Clarke actually emerged in the early seventies when he, barely 20, first produced the U Roy tune "The Higher The Mountain" and then Big Youth's excellent "Screaming Target" album. During the seventies he recorded many of the greatest names in reggae including Leroy Smart, I Roy, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Augustus Pablo, to name a few. For his recording sessions he mainly took his artists to the renown Channel One studio, which came to an end when he opened his own state-of-the-art studio called Music Works in 1987.

The first single to emerge from his own studio was Gregory Isaacs' "Rumors", which became a massive hit, as did "Telephone Love", JC Lodge's big club hit across the same riddim. Gussie had abandoned his solid, rather traditional sound and now utilized a high-tech computerized sound, which instantly proved very successful. Also Gussie's pairing of deejay star Shabba Ranks with female singers as well as the combination with Home T and Cocoa Tea were huge successes. Thus Gussie Clarke established himself as the leading producer and hitmaker in the late eighties and early nineties. Throughout the mid-nineties he concentrated on building a new studio, Music Works II, and only occasionally attracted attention with his production work, like for example with Freddie McGregor's "Rumours" which topped the UK reggae charts in 1997.

And now Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke returns as producer of the extraordinary beautiful one drop/Nyahbinghi riddim 'Consuming Fire' for his own Anchor Records and in VP Records' Riddim Driven Series laid by 'Bongo' Herman Davis, Dale 'Dr. Dizzle' Virgo - who was involved in such diverse but successful projects as Rihanna's "Girl Like Me" album, QQ's "Poverty" and Gyptian's massive "Serious Times" - and Dizzle Muzik's Andre Bailey. All mixed by Errol Brown under vocal supervision of Michael Bennett and recorded by Delroy 'Fatta' Pottinger, Donald 'Tixie' Dixon and Nigel Burell this mix of well seasoned veterans and young talents combines for an excellent piano and Nyahbinghi drum based riddim not unlike e.g. Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett's 'Seasons' or Moses Productions' 'Reflections'-riddim, but contrary to the latter all (great) artists deliver excellent tunes across this 'Consuming Fire' riddim.

Upcoming artist L'il Joe delivers the massive "Not Good At All" - lyrically not unlike Gyptian's "Serious Times" - to kickstart this album and the next stage of his promising career, followed by Tanya Stephens brilliant "Do You" that can only not have been included on her recent "Rebelution" album because it came after the deadline for inclusion, Chuck Fender's strong "Blood On Dem Nozzle" and Anthony B's tribute to the strength of good music and warning to those fighting Rastafari "Dem A Thief And Liar". Sizzla's "Put All My Trust In Jah" is sheer brilliance but Natty King outshines him (and his clearly audible source of inspiration Luciano) with "Care For Life" probably the best tune over this quality-tune blessed riddim. Then newcoming female singer Shantia delivers the excellent political statement "In Exchange For My Vote" followed by reggae-gospel stars Katalys Crew (who you may know from their contributions to Katsjam Records' "Peace, Love, Unity & Justice", especially leadsinger Kemoy Rowe a.k.a. R.A.D.I.C. (Righteousness And Divinity In Christ)) delivering their beautiful harmonies in the righteous "Chanting" and Luciano's great soothing "Mighty God Is He".

Turbulence is currently releasing some very strong tunes and "Sorry" is one more proof that he has definitely benefited from love gone wrong as his tunes about that theme have all impressed me. I've never been too impressed by Yvad, but his "A Just So The World A Run" is an excellent tune both lyrically and in terms of his singing and Heather Cummings "Speak Out" is of the same high quality. Freddie McGregor is the first of the three big artists whom 'Gussie' Clarke voiced continually over the years delivering top notch tunes here, his heartfelt "Exit Wounds Of Your Love" is followed by veteran female singer June Lodge still sounding magnificent with "I'm On Fire" describing love as a 'Consuming Fire' giving this riddim its name. The last contribution to this album is former Third World singer Bunny Rugs' "Solutions" with addition of his former band colleague Cat Coore on harmonica lending a(n even more) melancholic vibe to the tune.

It's a pity no clean version of the riddim has been included, but Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke has definitely made his comeback as a top producer with this 'Consuming Fire' one riddim album, so I'm very curious about his upcoming 'Octagen' dancehall riddim and his next one drop riddim 'Groove Master' as this first 'Consuming Fire' step of his comeback is just brilliant.