Total Reggae ~ Summer Vibes
August 15, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 3/4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
Over the years VP Records has become the major player in reggae music, and boasts what is reputedly reggae's largest back catalogue. In recent times the company has issued several interesting releases from that huge catalogue. The "Reggae Anthology" series is a truly impressive effort from the company, with outstanding releases such as Barrington Levy's "Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84" and Yellowman's "Young, Gifted & Yellow", the latter even with a bonus DVD! Last year they started a brand new series called "Total Reggae", a truly budget priced collection of double cd's, focusing on several sections in reggae music. One of the two current 'Total Reggae' releases is called "Total Reggae - Summer Vibes" and focuses on the crossover section of reggae and dancehall.
The Jamaican music industry arguably was and still is the most toughest in the world. The importance of Jamaican music to the country and the world over the past half century cannot be exaggerated, because the impact was greater than the music of any other country proportionate to size. First there's the Jamaican sound system of the inner-city that has become the disco of uptown, at home and abroad, engineering a transformation through popular music with a social message. Furthermore it's obvious that the development of dub and toasting in Jamaica spawned the most compelling popular music in America today, rap and hip hop.
Many Jamaican artists scored with cover versions of soul, pop, and rock hits, but there are also a lot of original Jamaican records that became well known through cover versions. One of the best examples is "The Tide Is High", an original rocksteady classic from 1967 that became a smash hit for Blondie in 1980 and for Atomic Kitten in 2002. Anyway, this collection shines on several well known, but also rather unknown Jamaican crossover classics.
In 1972 John Holt recorded the tune OK Fred for producer Coxsone Dodd. It became a minor hit, but when Errol Dunkley re-recorded the tune it became an international seller. Dunkley's recording career began in 1965, when he was fourteen. Between 1967 and 1968 he recorded several singles for Joe Gibbs including "Please Stop Your Lying" (1967) and "Love Brother" (1968), before switching to Studio One in 1969. Together with Gregory Isaacs he formed the African Museum record label, although Isaacs soon took sole control of the label, while Dunkley formed a new label, Silver Ring. In 1972 he released two popular singles, "Keep The Pressure On" and "Black Cinderella". He continued to record throughout the 1970s and towards the end of the decade his popularity in the UK grew, resulting in a breakthrough UK Singles Chart hit in 1979 with "OK Fred", that reached number 11.
Dennis Brown reigned as 'The Crown Prince Of Reggae' for almost 30 years but his sole crossover hit was in 1979, Money In My Pocket, a recut of a song he already did in 1972. This success led to Brown featuring on the cover of the NME in February 1979. Two of reggae music's serious and accomplished artists, Marcia Griffiths and Bunny Wailer had their biggest international success with the disco tune Electric Boogie.
One of the best known reggae tunes that crossed over has to be Uptown Top Ranking by Althea & Donna. The year 1977 saw the issue of Trinity's hugely popular "Three Suite Piece", which utilized the riddim of Marcia Aitken's updated version of Alton Ellis' Studio One hit "I'm Still In Love". This success led to a whimsical follow up by teenage schoolgirl duo, Althea Forrest and Donna Reid. Despite the lyrics in the resulting release of Uptown Top Ranking being almost non-sensical to those unfamiliar with Jamaican patois, the song reached the UK charts towards the end of the year, and early 1978, hit the number one spot.
Sweet voiced Ken Boothe released some serious roots tunes, but he is best known for his cover of Everything I Own, an 1972 US hit tune by Bread, a soft pop band led by David Gates. When The Chords recorded Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream) in 1954 they never could have suspected it would become a minor hit in 1995 for the trio Red Dragon, Ruddy Thomas and the aforementioned Dennis Brown!
Eric Donaldson started his solo career when he submitted Cherry Oh Baby to the 1971 Jamaican Festival Song Competition, going on to win the competition and giving him a big Jamaican hit single. The song was made famous throughout the world when it was covered by both The Rolling Stones (on their 1976 album, Black and Blue) and UB40 (on their 1983 album, Labour of Love). The riddim has remained extremely popular – over thirty cover versions have been recorded, including an update by Donaldson himself.
Sister Nancy (her elder brother, Robert, is better known as Brigadier Jerry), real name Ophlin Russell-Myers, (born Ophlin Russell on 2 January 1962) is known to the world as the first female dancehall deejay and was described as being a "dominating female voice for over two decades" on the dancehall scene. One of her most famous songs is Bam Bam, the all-time 1982 dancehall classic across Winston Riley's 'Stalag' riddim. The tune is also featured on her debut set "One Two".
Chaka Demus & Pliers - deejay Chaka Demus (born John Taylor) and singer Pliers (born Everton Bonner) - enjoyed more commercial success with mainstream pop fans after their collaboration began in the early 1990s than either had in his previous solo career. Both artists were established musicians when they teamed up and earned international recognition during the early 1990s. The duo was the first Jamaican act to have three consecutive Top 5 hits on the UK Singles Chart; a record unsurpassed until Shaggy scored four consecutive Top 5 hits in 2001. Their first UK chart hit, "Tease Me", stayed in the Top 5 of the UK Singles Chart, for three months in 1993, reaching number three in July. After releasing a cover of the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout", the song reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, in early 1994. The duo's other Top 20 placements were "She Don't Let Nobody" (UK #4), "I Wanna Be Your Man" (UK #19), and Gal Wine (UK #20), with six hit singles in all taken from their debut album, "Tease Me".
Not for the reggae purist, but definitely vybing & enjoyable!