July 20, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Things are wicked and wild in Babylon; London area is no stranger to that. On May 4, 2011, police slain an unarmed Mark Duggan in North London. This action sparked four days and nights of massive rioting that started in the capital and spread through the land. Much raspected Ariwa Sounds has just released a compilation; aptly titled "London's Burning".
Ariwa Sounds just celebrated 30 years of operation; one of only two studio owned Reggae labels to survive any length of time in the U.K; the other being Fashion Records. This is all due to the determination of Neil Fraser (Mad Professor). His lifelong passion of Reggae and electronics has left a worldwide impact; from Holland to Los Angeles; from Poland to Australia. Guyana born Fraser started fiddling with four track from his living room in 1979. In 1982, he officially created Ariwa Sounds with eight and then sixteen track technology. His unique mixing skills quickly caught on. With the help of his house band, The Sane Inmates, his earliest productions were the late, great Deborahe Glasgow, Tony Benjamin and Ranking Ann.
Ariwa scored big in 1985 with Sandra Cross' "Country Living" and classics by Johnny Clarke (Yard Style), Pato Banton and Peter Culture. The following year, he discovered Macka B, a Wolverhampton DJ, and cut "Sign Of The Times", a sizzler that remains one of the most effective Roots statements to ever emerge from the U.K. Mr. Fraser increased his roster with heavyweights like Lee Perry, Earl 16, Michael Prophet, Yabby You, Bob Andy and Horace Andy. Local talent was showcased like John McClean; "Truly Bowled Over" is arguably one of the greatest Lovers Rock albums ever made. The Mad Professor is busy to this day, discovering talent, touring the world, creating the latest Dub and house engineering renowned music festivals.
"London's Burning" is a stunning collection of new and old cuts focusing on violence in the city. It starts off with Big Youth reasoning about the recent riots in all his splendor. Mr. Manley Buchanan rides the urgent riddim with his lyrical whip; pure magic. Luciano comes forth with Ghetto Living, sounding just like Dennis Brown over a riddim that shows off the talents of longtime Ariwaman, Black Steel. Joe Ariwa extends the riddim into another beautiful dimension. Yabby You recorded an album with Black Steel and Mad Professor some fifteen years ago. Bun Them gracefully cradles Vivian Jackson's humble and mythical delivery, served over a hot plate of Black Steel and Ariwa possee. Michael Prophet's Burn Down Town off his "Rootsman" album is a solid steppa with the singer hitting his trademark hi-notes in all the right places. Pato Banton's Riot is a humorous fast chat style to a serious matter, over a very dubby and polished horn section. An absolute gem on this collection is Cease Fire , the title track from the John McClean/Dego Ranks classic. John's velvet tongue in combination with Dego Rank's precise and rugged delivery is genius, with a top ranking riddim to boot.
Horace Andy recorded three albums for Ariwa; Babylon Burning is a stellar highlight that showcases his always youthful delivery over serious riddim blocks. Macka B's We've Had Enough takes us down memory lane with his brilliant use of wordplay and rapid fire consciousness. Lesser known artist Karmelody offers up a treat with Kings Of The Concrete Jungle. Look for great things in the future from this rising lion. The remaining tracks are dedicated to the mixing and dubbing mastery of the Mad Professor and his co-engineer Joe Ariwa. Any of "Dub Me Crazy" albums are well worth it! These days, they have twenty four track capability outboarded to the hilt and they use it! The highlight dub from this album is the dub of Big Youth's song, transformed into Burning Dub. This is sizzling hot and guaranteed to keep the sound system shaking; absolute perfection.
2012 is a busy year for Ariwa. In January, they celebrated 30 years with a huge festival in Ghana. Performers included Brinsley Forde, Frankie Paul, Macka B. Earl 16, Sandra Cross and much of Ariwa's roster. General Levy has just completed a serious project with Joe Ariwa. "London's Burning" gives a clear indication of Ariwa's vision -- to release quality roots music with the latest technology without losing sense of purpose. Never ever a champion of slack or Ragga; expect the best from this label. The selections on this release demand immediate attention. Go to the local shop and make this one drop.