Various artists album review
Reality Calling Vol. 1
Jet Star
16 - 02 - 2001

Tracking list

  1. Mikey Spice - Ethiopian Here I Come
  2. Daweh Congo - Most Naturally
  3. Freddie McGregor - I Don't Know
  4. Jahmali - Expect A Fight
  5. Capleton - Statement
  6. Junior Kelly - Black African Star
  7. Morgan Heritage - Ready To Work
  8. Daweh Congo - Iration
  9. Al Campbell - Ites Gold & Green
  10. Glen Washington - Kings Of Kings
  11. The Mighty Diamonds - Better Days
  12. Rasites - Jah Love
  13. Johnny Clarke - Jah Bless The Man
  14. Prezident Brown - Lion King Humble
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

Truly wicked first instalment in Jet Star's brand new "Reality Calling" series showcasing some of the best contemporary roots & culture titles from Jamaica, London and New York, many of which have sold very well when they appeared on 7" single. "Reality Calling Vol. 1" gathers established reggae artists like Freddie McGregor, Mighty Diamonds, Al Campbell and Johnny Clarke who have delivered many fine roots & reality tunes since they emerged in the seventies, by many long-time reggae fans regarded as the heydays of roots reggae music. These veterans are joined here by younger warriors such as Jahmali, Junior Kelly, Morgan Heritage, the sensational Rasites, Capleton and Daweh Congo, all being exponents of modern roots music.
Mikey Spice, whose first major hit "Practice What You Preach" established him as a great singer of lovers rock, once again shows that he is equally at home with message tunes. His epic "Ethiopian Here I Come" - performed over an outrageous rebuild of the classic Harry Mudie/Heptones "Love Without Feeling" riddim - is produced by Dalton Browne for "Honey Bunch Production" and can be regarded as one of Mikey Spice's best cultural efforts ever. Daweh Congo benefits from the skills and experience of former Channel One engineer Anthony "Soljie" Hamilton, who has mixed most of Xterminator's output so far. Daweh Congo's teaming up with Soljie, who also produces for his own "Soljie" imprint, has led to a brilliant piece entitled "Most Naturally". Freddie McGregor hardly fails to deliver a solid tune and "I Don't Know" is further proof of this statement. In contrast to many of his fellow Jamaican artists Jahmali isn't high prolific, which may be the main reason why his tunes maintain a high quality level. The Bobby Digital produced track "Expect A Fight" is a superb effort taken from Jahmali's album "Treasure Box". The "Prophet" Capleton delivers a solid "Statement", which happens to be a fiery lyrical attack on Stone Love's cut of "Give Me The Right". Singjay Junior Kelly is a fast rising star and a new cultural messenger to watch for, here again confirmed by means of his much in demand killer tune "Black African Star". Morgan Heritage needs no further introduction since they have established themselves as a strong force in modern roots music. Their contribution to this compilation set, "Ready To Work", is an entertaining track taken from their album "Don't Haffi Dread". Then the second Daweh Congo track "Iration", which is taken from his excellent "Guidance" album. Al Campbell delivers the wicked "Ites Gold & Green" over a powerful, thumping stepper, laid by Paul "Jazzwad" Yebuah and Tony "Ruff Cutt" Phillips, featuring the horns of Dean Fraser and the Matic Horns, first utilized for Freddie McGregor's "Give Jah The Glory". Regarding the number of album releases since his reappearance in 1998 Glen Washington must belong to the top 10 of high prolific reggae artists. The J.B. Senior produced "Kings Of Kings" is a decent effort, which can also be found on the Jet Star album "Glen Washington & Friends". One of the standouts is The Mighty Diamonds' "Better Days", another Ruff Cutt produced roots killer. The Rasites, a youthful four piece rasta band which is already causing excitement among UK reggae followers, utilize a reworked version of Ernest Wilson's classic "I Know Myself" riddim for their excellent "Jah Love". Reggae veteran Johnny Clarke was one of the dominating roots singers during the mid-to-late seventies roots rockers era. "Jah Bless The Man" - across the classic "Africa We Want To Go" riddim - shows he's still able to come up with a solid rootical song in his inimitable vocal style. Prezident Brown delivers the next cut for the riddim, which actually fits this cultural singjay's style perfectly well. "Lion Humble King" is a very satisfying effort which rounds off this strong compilation set in fine style. Regarding the high quality of the tunes gathered on this first volume, Jet Star's "Reality Calling" is definitely going to be one of the most anticipated series of contemporary roots releases.

Teacher & Mr. T.