Fresh Voices ~ Big Songs Vol. 1
B&M Records-Jetstar
August 7, 2006

Track list
  1. New World Order - Kahnahkah Harmony - 'High Rise'-riddim
  2. Serious Times Take 2 - Gyptian - 'Remix'
  3. Protect The Children - Kahnahkah Harmony
  4. First Class Jamaicans - 3D - 'High Rise'-riddim
  5. Make A Life - Kahnahkah Harmony - 'Grass Roots'-riddim
  6. Mama & Papa - Fire Star & Ico Flames - 'High Rise'-riddim
  7. Why - Bescenta - 'Texas Ranger'-riddim
  8. Rise - Kemora - 'High Rise'-riddim
  9. Hot Girls In The Place - Mitch - 'Texas Ranger'-riddim
  10. Ruption - Mitch - 'High Rise'-riddim
  11. My Only Man - Kemora - 'Grass Roots'-riddim
  12. My Boo - Anjellee - 'High Rise'-riddim
  13. Lonely Girl - MBC - 'Texas Ranger'-riddim
  14. You & I - Innibal - 'High Rise'-riddim
  15. We Need Love - Guidance - 'High Rise'-riddim
  16. Hard Life - Marko Bran - 'Texas Ranger'-riddim
  17. Gangster - Marko Bran - 'High Rise'-riddim
  18. My Guy (Not Tonight) - Kemora - 'Texas Ranger'-riddim
  19. My Girl (Shuggydung) - Deva Brat - 'High Rise'-riddim
  20. Change Will Come - Zabbrick - 'High Rise'-riddim
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3/4
Without the invaluable recommendation of Carlo, from Münster's reggae mailorder and recordshop Irie Records I would probably not have immediately picked up this very nice compilation from UK-based B&M Records. Completely true to their philosophy, being on average only about one new artist emerges from the shore of Jamaica each year, while an abundance of talent dwells within the island, in 2004 it was I-Wayne, in 2005 it was Gyptian. The public deserves a chance to hear more voices with the talent of Gyptian, I-Wayne, Fantan Mojah before they become main-stream. Not one to follow the norm, B&M Records has decided to create an avenue for some of these fresh voices to have their big songs heard. The result is the CD series "Fresh Voices, Big Songs". "Volume 1" of this series concentrating on the one hand on the great voices of Kahnahkah Harmony and other artists from their stable, on the other hand on the three riddims (released on the 'Rootical' label) that underpinned their 45s so far, the latest 'High Rise'-riddim, 'Grass Roots' and 'Texas Ranger'. Kahnahkah Harmony, blessed with a great voice, opens this album with his tune on the rootsy bass driven 'High Rise'-riddim with its synth-string effects on top, the powerful "New World Order", followed by a remix of Gyptian's extremely successful "Serious Times Take 2" that doesn't rival its original for sheer impact, but is nevertheless very enjoyable. After his cameo-appearance on I-Wayne's "Lava Ground" album on the track "Burning Rome", (Kahnahkah) Harmony heralded his coming with the song "Protect The Children" here included over a real slow jam acoustic guitar driven riddim supporting its important message. 3D made their debut over Alberto 'Burro' Blackwood's 'Kasablanca'-riddim and then appeared on Ingo Rheinbay's Pow Pow production 'Gladiator' with their "Love Buddy" with two hardcore dancehall tunes and here show their beautiful vocal harmonies stating we are first world people living in a third world country in the irresistable hookline of "First Class Jamaicans" over the 'High Rise'-riddim. Kahnahkah (meaning warm in Amharic) delivers his third fine tune on this album, over B&M/Rootical Records recent 'Grass Roots'-riddim, the beautiful it's better to "Make A Life" than to take a life with additional vocal production by Loyal Soldiers Nigel Burrell and I'd be surprised if we aren't treated to a whole heap of tunes by this promising newcomer in the remaining months of this year. Fire Star - who like Kahnahkah Harmony has recorded for Patrick Henry & Nigel Burrell, the Loyal Soldiers production team behind 'Lava Ground' and I-Wayne's "Can't Satisfy Her" and made a guest appearance on I-Wayne's "Lava Ground" album - teams up here with Ico Flames for the fine "Mama & Papa" over the 'High Rise'-riddim. Bescenta, who singjayed a couple of strong tunes for Ray Stephens' Vertex label, switches very successfully to straightforward deejaying on "Why" over the stripped down hardcore dancehall riddim 'Texas Ranger' followed by sweet-voiced Kemora telling about her determination to get on with her life after her lover left her in "Rise" over the 'High Rise'-riddim and it's remarkable how many good female Jamaican vocalists seem to tend more and more to UK lovers rock delivery, which in my opinion is just great. Mitch, like DaVille a former member of A.R.P. and as good and melodic as a singer, delivers the big party tune "Hot Girls In The Place" over the 'Texas Ranger' and the extremely impressive warning to his girl "Ruption" over 'High Rise' although some may be turned off by his extreme falsetto used on this tune. Kemora's second tune on this album is over the 'Grass Roots'-riddim even more explicitly showing the UK lovers rock influences in this great tribute to her lover "My Only Man". Anjellee delivers her "My Boo" - not an adaptation of the Usher song" - in the same fine vein over the 'High Rise' followed by Computer Paul's girl group MBC tune on the 'Texas Ranger', with sexy Storm a.k.a. Natalie, Foxy a.k.a. Joy-Ann and Miss Chin a.k.a. Heather in their "Lonely Girl" deejaying and singing their hearts out to live up to their groups name Make Boyz Cry. Innibal's "You & I" over the 'High Rise' is the one tune that should have been left of the album, as his off-key low-voice whispering is gonna hurt everyone's ears, only worth hearing when in the chorus the female backing vocals are mixed in at higher volume than his voice. Guidance, who seems on the brink of making it big, voicing several strong tunes over roots riddims on various labels, delivers the much better "We Need Love" over the same riddim, before Miguel Skinner a.k.a. Marko Bran gets in his two tunes. And that's a time to take a deep breath and pause for a while, as this fine promising young deejay, at the age of 25, on the 15th of June this year passed away after suffering a heart attack. B&M Records is committed to donating part of the proceeds of this CD to the education of late Marko's pride and joy, his one-year-old daughter. Both "Hard Life" detailing the struggles endured by the poor and the determination not to give up despite of that over the 'Texas Ranger'-riddim and the even more impressive reality tune now me turn "Gangster" just to stay alive that should become a posthumous hit show that a promise for the future too soon has become a memory of the past. May his soul rest in peace. Kemora's third tune on this album, her take on 'Texas Ranger' - like most of the tunes on this album written by Maurice Walker, DJ Black-Er (the former Blacka Ranks)' manager and the man behind the B&M-label is the more Jamaican than UK sounding "My Guy (Not Tonight)" another tune proving her ability to fully explore the possibilities of her sweet voice. Deva Brat, who made a one off appearance on Jam 2's 'Peanie Peanie'-riddim in 2002 and now seems to be working on his comeback with fresh tunes on the Frenz label (alongside I-Wayne) and Vertex, delivers the catchy "My Girl (Shuggydung)" over the 'High Rise'-riddim before Zabbrick delivers the last tune over that same riddim and of this album with the fine "Change Will Come" that ends a very entertaining album showcasing the great promise these lesser known talents keep for the near future, as well as the strength of Maurice Walker and his B&M Records crew as an up and coming production team. We'll surely be hearing more from the artists and producer on the cover of this very worthwile "Fresh Voices ~ Big Songs Volume 1" album.