Joyful Noise
I Grade Records
October 28, 2009

Arkaingelle - Joyful Noise Track list
  1. Duane Stephenson - Hard Times
  2. Queen Omega - Footsteps
  3. The Nazarenes - Everlasting
  4. Pressure - Modern Pharaoh
  5. Arkaingelle - Song of Praise
  6. Midnite - Judgment In Measurement
  7. Jahdan Blakkamoore - Flying High
  8. Duane Stephenson - I'm Fine
  9. Junior P - The Reason
  10. Lutan Fyah - Discipline
  11. I-Sasha - Haile I
  12. Batch - Youths
  13. Danny I - Hold On
  14. NiyoRah - Gone Crazy
  15. Midnite - Deep Tangle Roots
  16. Jahdan Blakkamoore - Red Hot
  17. Messenjah Selah - Your Own World
  18. Sabbattical Ahdah - Love And Iverstanding
  19. Batch feat. NiyoRah & Danny I - We Want Reparations
  20. Norris Man - Power Of Love
Rate this album!
Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 32-
Very Good -Votes: 8-
Good -Votes: 3-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 0-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 43
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
After having released the highly acclaimed "Weep Not" compilation in 2002 featuring solely artists from the US Virgin Islands, I Grade Records now unleashes their long overdue second roots reggae compilation entitled "Joyful Noise". However this time they have added Duane Stephenson, Lutan Fyah, Messenjah Selah and Norris Man from Jamaica, Queen Omega and I-Sasha from Trinidad, Jahdan Blakkamoore and Arkaingelle from Guyana, and The Nazarenes from Sweden (by way of Ethiopia) to the roster of artists that represent the Virgin Islands. The massive "Joyful Noise" set features four riddims namely the "Harvest", "Discipline", "Flying High" and "Grasslands" riddim each represented with -- not consecutively but spread out -- five songs. The well crafted riddims were largely produced by Zion I Kings the production collective consisting of the producers for Zion High Productions (Jah David Goldfine), I Grade Records (Tippy I Alfred) and Lustre Kings Productions (Andrew "Moon" Bain) with furthermore drummers Dean Pond (Studio 340) and T Rock (Red I Band) rounding out the production team.

The "Harvest" riddim, with its sticky major chord progression and real fine horn line, gets things started with Duane Stephenson's Marley-esque "Hard Times", which certainly belongs to the best tunes he has recorded so far. Female singjay Queen Omega delivers the first cut across the "Discipline" riddim, which has a classic early-80's live roots feel and a great sounding horn line. This Trinidadian roots queen shines bright and with "Footsteps" she drops one of the standout tunes on the album. To see The Nazarenes appear on this compilation was a bit surprising, but the roots duo's spiritual tune "Everlasting" on the "Flying High" riddim proves that an artist simply needs a good riddim and the right producer to get the best out of him. From the first time we heard Pressure (Buss Pipe) he has managed to impress us over and over again and here he continues to do so with one of our favourite tracks and also one of the most outstanding songs, "Modern Pharaoh", over the "Grasslands" riddim. The latter is a smooth yet heavy roots backdrop with poignant acoustic guitars, horns & strings over a classic one drop. All in all worthwhile tunes, great riddims, and a great way to start off this compilation.

And it doesn't stop here as tunes worth of hearing keep on coming. Up-and-coming singjay Arkaingelle has a real nice flow on the "Harvest" riddim and makes a good impression with "Song Of Praise". The "Discipline" riddim has lyrical legend Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite coming up next with the wonderful "Judgment In Measurement". Recently we've heard Jahdan Blakkamoore excel on Lustre Kings' "Culture Dem Vol. 3", and here this ultra-gifted lyricist does it again with the title track for the "Flying High' riddim. Duane Stephenson delivers his next massive tune, "I'm Fine", which matches his previous effort. Would love to see him team up with Zion I Kings for a full length album! Still 12 tracks to go, but that's more a treat than a torment.

"The Reason" is a decent effort from veteran singjay Junior P, while Lutan Fyah's cut "Discipline" is one of the best cuts on the riddim of the same name and also one of the biggest tunes included on this collection. I-Sasha shows potential as he excels on the beautiful "Flying High" riddim with a song of praise entitled "Haile I". Another solid effort comes from veteran singer/producer Batch, who fully lives up to expectations with the uplifting "Youths". It's followed by Danny I's killer tune "Hold On", one of the standouts here. Since he emerged on the scene with his strong debut album "Different Age", we've been on the outlook for more musical efforts from NiyoRah because he has that certain something in his vocal and lyrical delivery that sets him apart, and the powerful "Gone Crazy" is further evidence of the singer's great skill and talent. Earlier on Midnite's Vaughn Benjamin impressed with "Judgment In Measurement", but the wicked "Deep Tangle Roots" turns out to be an even stronger piece.

So far "Joyful Noise" has been a breathtaking musical journey and there's no sign this is gonna change in the last part of this massive roots reggae collection. Jahdan Blakkamoore's reality tune "Red Hot" is a very good cut over the "Grasslands" riddim, followed by Messenjah Selah's solid "Your Own World". Fyah chanter Sabbattical Ahdah, one of the lesser known names here but certainly one with a distinctive style, shows that he can become a force the reckon with in the near future. The compilation is rounded off in great style with two excellent tunes, "We Want Reparations" by the combination Batch, NiyoRah & Danny I, and Norris Man's "Power Of Love" respectively.

Without doubt the best and most consistent roots reggae compilation of 2009 and thus strongly recommended for any self-respecting roots fan and especially those who are looking for more inspired and interesting works than what's usually coming from Jamaican production houses in recent times.