Various artists album review
Universal Message Vol. 3
VP Records-Walboomers Music
February 20, 2005

Tracking list

  1. Jah Cure - Jah Bless Me
  2. Morgan Heritage - Uncomfortable
  3. I Wayne - Living In Love
  4. Chuck Fender - I Swear
  5. Fantah Mojah - Mama Hungry
  6. Sizzla - Ain't Gonna See Us Fall
  7. Chezidek - Leave The Trees
  8. Gentleman - Dem Gone
  9. Capleton - That Day Will Come
  10. Richie Spice - Blood Again
  11. Tanya Stephens - What A Day
  12. Luciano - Give Praise
  13. Bushman - Lighthouse
  14. Turbulence - Hail To The King
  15. Wayne Wonder - Jah Love
  16. Junior Kelly - By The Seed
  17. 2 Isis - Ghetto Pain
  18. Anthony B - Mr. Heartless
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3

Part three in VP's "Universal Message" series is a very good compilation set that focuses on culture and consciousness. This collection of tunes couldn't come at a better moment as it is obvious that the shifting tastes in Jamaica toward 'conscious' lyrics signal a trend reminiscent of the period in the 1990s when artists such as Garnet Silk, Luciano and Sizzla emerged. The recent resurgence in traditional 'roots' music is charting #1 hits in Jamaica for Capleton, Richie Spice, Tanya Stephens and new comer I Wayne among others. The aforementioned artists are present here along with well-known cultural messengers like Luciano, Bushman, Junior Kelly and Morgan Heritage, to name a few. On this set you're treated to reality and culture in the lyrics and roots in the riddims. All tracks gathered here tell the tale of the sufferers in all aspects. Jah Cure, whose compilation cd "Freedom Blues" will be released by VP Records in March 2005, delivers a truly wicked album opener across the "Sweet River Rock" riddim, probably best known from Richie Spice's huge hit "Earth A Run Red". Morgan Heritage's "Uncomfortable" is the next big tune around. Underpinned by a wicked remake of the "Stop That Train" riddim, this worthwhile track already made a serious impact when it was released on 7" single by Big Yard. Next are three artists who have managed to draw notable attention in the past year. With "Can't Satisfy Her" new comer I Wayne scored his first hit tune in Jamaica, and also "Living In Love" across the "Hard Times" riddim climbed the charts. In 2004 Chuck Fender delivered several noteworthy tunes and a debut album, but one of his best efforts was definitely "I Swear", which is the title track of a riddim that caused nuff excitement when it hit the streets. Several of Fantah Mojah's songs were already released on 7" singles before he finally managed to score his first Jamaican hit with an excellent tune called "Mama Hungry" aka "Hungry". Unlike the three artists that precede him Sizzla has already established his name as a topnotch artist. With "Ain't Gonna See Us Fall" he delivers a solid tune, reminiscent of his hit "Thank You Mama". Chezidek's "Leave The Trees" is another great track included here, followed by what has to be Gentleman's first appearance on a compilation set outside Europe. "Dem Gone" is not one of his most recent tunes as it is taken from his 2002 released "Journey To Jah" album, but it's definitely one of his best tunes and thus deservedly featured among Jamaica's cream of the crop. Then Capleton delivers the next cut for the "Hard Times" riddim, "That Day Will Come". The latter is a solid piece worth of hearing and the same goes for Richie Spice's "Blood Again". The mood changes completely with Tanya Stephens' wonderful message tune "What A Day", taken from her album "Gangsta Blues". "What A Day" is one out of three acoustic songs on this compilation, with Turbulence's moving "Hail To The King" and Anthony B's "Mr. Heartfelt" being the other two. Luciano fully lives up to expectations with the powerful "Give Praise", while Bushman expertly rides an uptempo riddim for "Lighthouse". The inclusion of a Wayne Wonder tune may come as a surprise, even though he ocassionaly has shown that he's able to deliver a solid roots tune. "Jah Love" is a decent effort for which he rides the "He Speaks" riddim, the same backdrop that underpins Sizzla's Ain't Gonna See Us Fall. Junior Kelly performs in his well-known style and his "By The Seed" can be ranked among the solid pieces on this cd. A real surprise and also one of the highlights is "Ghetto Pain" by 2 Isis, which fully deserves the push on the repeat button.
If modern roots is your cup of tea, than this compilation is a great addition to your cd collection.

Teacher & Mr. T.