Various artists album review
Easy Star Volume 1
Easy Star Records
19 - 08 - 1998

Tracking list

  1. MC Trouble - Intro
  2. The Meditations - Jah music
  3. Sugar Minott - Born in the ghetto (Have mercy)
  4. Ossie Dellimore - Time has come
  5. Rob Symeonn & Ranking Joe - Delilah
  6. Sluggy Ranks - Ethiopia (extended mix)
  7. Father Sweets - Sight of an eagle
  8. Sister Carol - Original drum
  9. Winston Irie - Interlude
  10. Junior Demus - One master
  11. Gary Pine - Fighting for the right thing
  12. Patrick Jr. - If I'm not loving Jah
  13. Ruff Scott - What goes around
  14. Vincent Hans - Interlude
  15. Rob Symneonn - Anything for jah
  16. The Easy Star All Stars - Dun in the ghetto
  17. The Easy Star All Stars & MC Trouble - Red Stripe & Heineken
  18. The Easy Star All Stars - Dub lilah
  19. Tony Rankin - Outro
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5

The fresh and young New York based label Easy Star Records has been drawing attention the last year with it's quality releases on 7" singles. Finally they have compiled a more than excellent compilation set, containing 15 tracks, and three dub versions included as bonus tracks. The album features a range of artists, from living legends to current stars as well as up and coming talents. All the riddims are laid down by Easy Star's house band The Easy Star All Stars.
All of the Easy Star Records label's releases are characterized by their distinctive sound - contemporay roots reggae with an unmistakable seventies feel - and what's more, all the music is pure and live, no technical gimmicks, computers...just drum and bass, guitar, horns, piano and organ.
The album opens with two tracks of reggae veterans The Meditations and Sugar Minott. The Meditations' track is an uplifting up tempo track, while Sugar's tune deals with the ghetto life, one of Sugar's best tracks he has recorded since long - the dub is equally fine -. The next track, Ossie Dellimore's really stunning debut single Time has come is a solid traditional-style riddim wich is both original and has a modern flavor. Strictly reality lyrics, and Ossie's voice reminiscent of the late great Peter Tosh plus the subtle guitar solo (thanks Ronnie Butler !) makes this track an instant classic.
Up coming talent Rob Symneonn delivers two excellent tunes, the wicked original Delilah, featuring a nice guest appearance of veteran deejay Ranking Joe, and the spiritual track Anything for Jah. One of the most underrated reggae vocalists is Sluggy Ranks, who delivers with Ethiopia a chilling tune, the backing remniscent of the early 80s sound of the Roots Radics.
Father Sweets' cut Sight of an eagle tackles issues ranging from racism to poverty to African history all in its brief four minutes. He is voicing over an original wicked riddim - which starts up with a percussion-dominated intro before it comes to its full growth. Sister Carol and Junior Demus ride the same catchy riddim. Both artists have their own style and deliver two outstanding tracks.
The highlights on the album are numerous : Gary Pine - the former lead singer for City Heat, one of New York's premier reggae bands - and Patrick Jr. make a more than solid impression with their tunes. Ruff Scott puts out a decent and appealing dancehall tune with a strong cultural vibe. His conscious lyrics are delivered in a more traditional, early-dancehall style over an original riddim, featuring a guest performance by the Burning Brass, the all-female horn trio known for backing up artists such as the Burning Spear and Maxi Priest.
Easy Star Volume 1 is a ground breaking compilation set, waving the red, green and gold flag for producer Michael Goldwasser. Easy Star Records shock out with an array of artists, delivering "new classic reggae songs, thus bringing the music forward into the next century".

Teacher & Mr. T.