Various artists album review
Sweet Reggae Music
5 CD Box Set
25 - 12 - 2001
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3|
Compilation sets, cd box sets etc. mostly have one thing in common. In most of the cases you always see the same names on the trackinglist; vintage tunes drawn from the back catalogue of companies such as Trojan and Creole Records. Not really interesting for reggae fans all over the world. This (low-budget !) box set however has been compiled by Mikey B., whose knowledge of reggae music stands surety for a wicked selection of tunes from past and present. Some 90 tunes from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and even some from more recent date. The line up of artists shows that this is cannot be mediocre stuff, no, it's topnotch quality reggae and dancehall business ! Let's see what this box has to offer.|
Young warriors in Jah Army, Morgan Heritage belong to the new wave of cultural messengers who rally around the red, gold and green of Rastafari. With excellent albums like "One Calling", "Protect Us Jah" and "Don't Haffi Dread" this five-piece family group (four brothers and one sister) have delivered serious contributions to contemporary roots music. By now Morgan has become a familiar name to many reggae music fans, not only for the songs of Morgan Heritage, but also for L.M.S. and their father Denroy Morgan for his years and many successes in the music business. They have captured a sweet-spot-in-time utilising live instruments such as guitars, horns and hand drums - an approach of timeless feel, but with a sound that is refreshingly modern at the same time. Taken from the crucial 'Don't Haffi Dread' album are Reggae Bring back Love which is build around Bob Marley's 'Mellow Mood' riddim, Crying Out and Don't Haffi Dread. Father Denroy contributes Link Up and LMS is featured here with one of their strongest tunes Never.
Leroy Sibbles, born 1949, Jamaica, fronted the original Heptones up to 1976, when he embarked on an erratic solo career. In the sixties he worked at Coxsone Dodd's legendary Studio One as a bass player, background vocalist, arranger and talent scout. Together with ace musicians like keyboard virtuoso, arranger and bandleader Jackie Mittoo and guitarist Ernest Ranglin Sibbles created some of Studio One's classic riddims. In 1971 Leroy Sibbles and his Heptones ended their extremely successful association with Coxsone Dodd and went on to record for a range of renown producers including Joe Gibbs, Augustus Pablo, Harry Mudie and Harry J., still scoring hit after hit. Not only did Sibbles continue to come up with impressive compositions, the trio also started to rework songs from their Studio One years. Some of the best can be found on the "Night Food" album and their classic and most popular album "Party Time". The latter was also the last album of the original Heptones, although they reunited briefly to record an album - entitled "Pressure" - with producer Tappa Zukie in the early nineties. Blessed with unequalled songwriting abilities and a sweet sensual voice, Leroy Sibbles will never be far from the forefront of reggae music as can be witnessed on tracks like Play The Melody and It's Not Over, the latter being a duet with Sister Mancy. Both tracks are taken from the Bunny Gemini produced album 'Come Rock With Me'.
At the tender age of 21 Mark Myrie - better known as Buju Banton - delivered his inspirational masterpiece, the highly acclaimed "'Til Shiloh", the follow up to his debut album "Stamina Daddy" and his sophomore "Voice Of Jamaica". Part of Buju Banton's winning formula is his ability to combine the spirit of Bob Marley's legacy with the heart and soul of dancehall music. This essential fusion enables Buju's sound to cut across many cultural and social lines, conscious and spiritual minds as well as the hardcore dancehall crowd. Another element of this winning formula is the instantly recognisable and top-notch production work of Donovan Germain of Penthouse/Germain Records. Here Buju is present with no more than 4 tracks, three of which are drawn from his killer album 'Inna Heights' : Hills & Valleys, Destiny, and 54/46 a duet with Toots Hibbert.
Nuff nuff Culture tunes are included on this box set. For over 20 years Joseph Hill and Culture are one of the most respected and popular reggae artists in the world. Their story begins in 1977 with their legendary release of "Two Sevens Clash" - which is still heralded as one of the greatest all time reggae releases for its prophetic revelations - and spans two decades of musical change where the group, headed by the dynamic Joseph Hill, has always moved with the times, while remaining as an identifying source of roots music. Next to deadly vintage tunes such as Stop The Fussing And Fighting, Iron Sharpening Iron, Holy Mount Zion and Cumbolo you will also find here a more recent effort called Legalization from the 'Payday' album.
The Gladiators started their career as a band comprising Albert Griffiths, David Webber and Errol Grandison. They topped the Jamaican charts in late 1968 with 'Oh Carol' for producer Coxsone Dodd. Webber and Grandison were replaced by Clinton Fearon and Gallimore Sutherland. Over the following years they recorded a bunch of popular tracks for Coxsone Dodd, sampled on the 1979 set 'Presenting The Gladiators'. The signed up with Virgin Records, and the result was the release of 4 solid albums. In the 80s they split up, both Clinton Fearon and Albert Griffiths concentrating on a solo career. From their time with Virgin Records come no more than six excellent tracks, of which Mix Up, Soul Rebel and Stick A Bush rank among my favourite tunes.
With over 30 years of experience in the reggae industry the one and only, veteran sound of Gregory Isaac"s has become world renown. A whole generation of Jamaicans and reggae fans literally grew up with his music. Nicknamed The Cool Ruler, Gregory Isaacs, born 1951, Kingston, Jamaica, has produced during a three decade career a trailer load of reggae classics. His effective combination of cultural songs and soul-wailing love songs was irresistable. He easily adapted the new digital style of the mid 80s, and his popularity further increased with consistent albums for King Jammy, King Tubby and Gussie Clarke. With dozens of excellent album releases like 'Extra Classic', 'More Gregory', 'Mr. Isaacs', 'The Lonely Lover', 'Night Nurse' and 'Red Rose For Gregory' Gregory Isaacs' catalog is immense. It is obvious that compilers can draw from a trailer load of good music. From his prolific period at the end of 70s/early 80s are fine tunes like Tribute To Wadda, My Only Lover, Soon Forward and Universal Tribulation. Recent works are the wonderful Seize Fire and the aching lovers tune Love A New both produced for Syl Gordon's 321 Strong label.
Dennis Brown has to be considered one of the most prolific and popular reggae artists ever. He was born in 1956 and started recording for producer Coxsone Dodd, while still in his childhood. In the 70s and early 80s he established himself as a major force in reggae music with numerous roots and lovers cuts for several leading producers. In the nineties he remained a name always worth watching out for. He passed away on July 1st, 1999. A whole generation of Jamaicanís and reggae fans literally grew up with his music. A devout Rastafarian and a member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel Organization, Dennis Brown was a musical genius and he will be dearly missed. No doubt Dennis Brown (also known as the Crown Prince of Reggae Music) was one of Jamaica's sweet-voiced singers, who has never limited himself to one style. Whether it is lovers rock, roots & culture or dancehall music, he truly could handle it all. The compilers have added 5 tracks from this great singer. They are not vintage tunes, but quality songs he recorded during the last years of his life.
There's even more here ! The sadly missed Garnett Silk delivers two fine tracks : A Man Is Just A Man and Complaint, reggae's top crooner Beres Hammond delivers some deadly goods with Warriors Don't Cry and the combination tune with Marcia Griffiths Live On, up-and-coming vocalist Taffari is here with Neighbourly Love, veterans like U Roy and Sugar Minott display their talents on some outstanding vintage tunes, contemporary artists like Determine, Prince Malachi, Causion, Mikey General, Sizzla, Wayne Wonder, Everton Blender, Tony Rebel and ARP are also included on this very impressive set.
Needless to say that this (low-budget) box set is highly recommendable. Check this one definitely out !