Culture Juggling Vol. 1
Massive B
November 26, 2005

Track list
  1. Richie Spice - Youths Are So Cold
  2. Chuck Fender - All About Weed
  3. Sizzla - Give Jah Thanks
  4. Chezidek - Dem A Fight We
  5. Johnny Osbourne & Burro Banton - Truth And Rights
  6. Khari Kil I - Picture Of Sellasie I
  7. Sizzla - Jah Never Fail
  8. Bounty Killer - Highest Grade
  9. Morgan Heritage - Reggae Music
  10. Anthony B - Burnout Da War
  11. Burro Banton - Jah Jah Rule
  12. Elephant Man - No Time Fa Dem
  13. Sizzla - I Love Jah
  14. Chronicle - Jah Rise
  15. Norrisman - Stick To Roots
  16. Choppa Chop - Lovely Day
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
As anyone who reads these pages regularly will know -- this reviewer thinks reworking old rhythms and styles has been overdone, to the point of absurdity and is a tide against creativity in reggae music -- So these new albums from Massive B were approached with definite reservations.

Well -- no reservations whatsoever needed!

This album is, indeed -- composed entirely of decades old rhythms -- but most of it works beautifully.

This is a well hard selection, from start to finish, reworking the old Studio One "Truth And Rights" rhythm amongst others -- but sincerely -- with hammering production on the instrumentation. And most importantly, most crucially -- with a sense of drama, emotion and suspense that is all but gone from current digital music in JA and Europe which they have replaced all too often by bombastic digi bass/snare drums which flatten out creativity rather than enhance it.

This album also features a selection of singers who release their lyrics with all their spirit -- like they mean it from the heart with tranquillity, knowledge, insight or with righteous aggression.

The best tune on the "Truth And Rights" drum and bass line is the confessional "Dem A Fight We", a tale of a man who feels others constantly try to hold him back from any sense of personal progression. And it's a delight to hear the original tune reworked by the original vocalist, Johnny Osbourne, and he chants like he means it, with slow measured tones, ready to deliver a message. Serious.

"Shank I Sheck" also sees reworking -- but again, the production values are so spontaneous it works fine -- and these producers are getting good reality lyrics from their vocalists too, on a few of these tunes -- another unusual thing in a time when clichéd lyrics seem to be the order of the day.

This is a strong release from start to finish, with admittedly some, but very little filler. It's a really good lesson on how reworking of old tunes can be done with maximum enthusiasm, fire, spirit and energy --and less of the cynicism and sense of a cash in.

Highly recommended. Watch out for the equally intense King Kong album.

(The outer sleeve art/design isn't saying much -- but the beautiful monochrome inner sleeve portrait of Selassie gets this album sleeve an unreserved 5/5 score!)