Maximum Sound 2011
September 17, 2011
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
It's really hard for a very small independent record label to survive since sales figures of cd's have drastically decreased. Besides that the production and distribution of vinyl has been notably reduced in the last year, and last but not least there's the 'piracy' phenomenon, which enables careless fans to download the music from all sorts of file sharing sites. It has forced labels to embrace digital downloads as their premiere means of selling (exclusive) music in order to rescue their business and continue their musical activities.
Now also Frenchie's Maximum Sound label has gone digital. First it started to offer its back catalogue on iTunes, and now the same legal digital platform also sells the exclusive compilation "Maximum Sound 2011". The latter collects 18 Frenchie produced dancehall and modern roots efforts from 2009-2011, some of them previously released on 7" and 12", others being exclusive pieces. Featured are vocal cuts from internationally well-known artists like Sizzla, Mr. Vegas, Alborosie, Tarrus Riley, and Busy Signal, across topnotch riddims such as "Ghetto State", "Skateland Killer", "Fairground", "Praise Jahovia", "Sound Xterminata", "Blood Dunza", "Matches Lane", "Vineyard", and "Rebellion".
For the first two tracks of this sampler Frenchie revisited Junior Keatting's "Letter Of Zion" riddim, which was first revitalized in 1984 by Lloyd 'King Jammy' James for Half Pint's "One Big Ghetto" and then Dennis Brown's "Africa We Want To Go", Echo Minott's "Youthman", and Tonto Irie's "Ram Up Every Corner". "Ghetto State Of Mind", with both Assassin aka Agent Sasco and Bounty Killer delivering thought-provoking incisive lyrics, and incorporating a sample of Half Pint's "One Big Ghetto", has huge vibes and is a real killer. It's hard to match -- or even even outmatch -- that effort, but when Sizzla takes the mic nothing is impossible and here he delivers another deadly cut on the "Ghetto State" riddim called "Ghetto Youths Rise".
Next are Tarrus Riley's "Rebel" and Alborosie's "Jahnoy", both coming on the great "Skateland Killer" riddim, actually a remake of the riddim that underpinned Eek-A-Mouse's "Star Daily News And Gleaner". Frenchie has mixed a power driven sax riff from reggae music veteran Dean Fraser into the riddim, raised the tempo and both results sound so very contemporary! "Rebel" is a truly awesome roots piece, while also Jahnhoy is a strong and convincing effort. The fresh original "Fairground" riddim hosts Luciano's "Identity", an outstanding conscious tune, with the Messenjah vocally and lyrically being in real good shape. I-Octane has been called the 'next big thing' in the dancehall & reggae arena, and his awesome "My Place" fully showcases why. Furthermore there's "Who You Love", a very solid and thoroughly enjoyable tune from one of Jamaica's internationally best known contemporary female artists, Ce'Cile.
Million Stylez's "Unity" is a solid, laid back roots effort, with the singjay delivering his conscious lyrics in his own instantly recognizable style over an appealing original riddim, which comes with a real nice skanking organ sound in the mix. For the "Sound Xterminata" riddim Frenchie went back to Clement Irie's "Kokolo". Produced by Hugh "Redman" James and recorded at Channel One, this was one of the biggest tunes of 1988. Mr. Vegas, Assassin, and dancehall veteran Burro Banton come up with tunes that feature strictly 'soundbwoy' lyrics. Mr. Vegas gives us the entertaining "Another Sound Dead", but it's Assassin whose devastating "Mad Sound" proves to be the real killer. The deep gruff-voiced Burro Banton, the living legend as he calls himself at the beginning of his cut, truly knows how to handle these kinda riddims to full effect and so he does here.
Then it's time for the combination Mr. Vegas & Konshens and Busy Signal to ride the "Praise Jahovia" riddim (a relick of the "Billie Jean" aka "Get A Lick" riddim), probably best known from the Tenor Saw anthem "Who's Gonna Help Me Praise" from 1985. Both tunes are solid efforts, with Mr. Vegas & Konshens' "Help Me Praise Jahovia" being strongly reminiscent of the Tenor Saw tune, and Busy Signal's "Uniform Bad Boy" in the end making a slighty better impression. Johnny Clarke's "Blood Dunza" riddim underpins Yami Bolo's "Ethnic Cleansing" and Sizzla's "African Liberation". The latter is a real big tune, but also Yami Bolo's tune is a very satisfying effort worth hearing.
The compilation is rounded off in great style. First there's the wonderful "Can't Take What Is Mine", Alborosie's take on the "Matches Lane" riddim, originally Jacob Miller's classic "False Rasta". Fantan Mojah comes up with the matching "More Blessings From The Herbs" on the "Vineyard" riddim, a tune that carries the same kinda vibe as its predecessor. Burning Spear's "Creation Rebel" riddim, renamed "Rebellion 2010", is utilized for Konshens' "No More Tears", a worthy closer of this highly recommended sampler.