Yes. It's yet another new feature. Check It is something I'll do maybe once or twice a month and it'll feature music that I just happen to be listening to at a certain time and enjoying to some degree. The material will most likely be somewhat timely, but not always, if it's something that's old but I just got it, it's fair game. Also, the albums you see here, MOST LIKELY, I won't be reviewing them in the future, but again, I'm sure there'll be some exceptions to that rule (like maybe the first album I'm about to tell you of) (and maybe the second) (and maybe the third and the fourth also).
Roots Rocking Reggae Vol. 1 [Tad's Records/Al.Ta.Fa.An/Zojak Worldwide]
Perhaps due to the cover (which is awesome) being loaded with quite a few familiar faces (especially the three in the center) or the terribly clichéd title, you’ve gone on and overlooked Roots Rocking Reggae Vol. 1, but if you have, trust that you’ve done yourself quite the disservice. This album is EASILY one of the best compilations of any type that I’ve heard in 2009 and it even tops some of the far more well known similarly vibed pieces (not to name any names). RRRV1 taps into the SOLID and woefully underused vault of tunes from Al.Ta.Fa.An, one of my favourite labels today and pulls from it fifteen tunes ranging from GOOD to EXCELLENT. It does feature not only the well known and well spun Sizzla, Luciano, Junior Kelly and Jah Masons of the world, but also The Mighty Diamonds, VAUGHN BENJAMIN, PINCHERS, ZIGGI, TAFFARI and Smiley (WHAT!). And yes: I know you were thinking it, Lutan Fyah is on board as well. The album is a big deal in my opinion and it also has a volume two, which is less impressive to me, but if you didn’t run through those Minor 7, Flat 5 releases a few years back, you’ll probably be just as impressed by it as well.
Best Tune: ‘Create Our History’ by Luciano & Bob Andy
Bigga Haitian - Sak Pasé [Walkup Records]
(And you’ll forgive me for the details on this one because I’ve had the album less than a day as of this writing) Bigga Haitian, for me, is in the company of a very unusual group of artists which includes the like of Midnite, Maxi Priest and maybe even someone like Eddy Grant in a sense where, I couldn’t accurately tell you where or even when I started listening to them or first heard their names, but they’re foreign artists who just seem to have ALWAYS been around for some reason and whenever they bring something new, I’m always ready to listen. In the case of Bigga Haitian, things are definitely no different and I was well interested in vibing his new project, Sak Pasé from Walkup Records. Checking in at just eight tunes (one of which is a remix and another of which I’m SURE is an old song, due to the fact that AS SOON as it began playing, I began singing along word for word, almost immediately), Sak Pasé is probably better described as a FAT EP, rather than a full blown album. But whatever the hell you want to call it, trust that every tune you’ll find here is very well done and on a tune by the name of ‘Load The Chalice’ (featuring a whole heap of individuals I’ve NEVER heard of), the man taps a version of ‘K’em Pa Sote‘! Nuff said! It’s Bigga Haitian, one of the all but forgotten MASTERS of Reggae these days (and you look at that man's face! Doesn't look like the type of gentleman you would want to disappoint).
Best Tune: ‘Haiti A Weh Mi From’ (Can’t tell you where I know it from (fittingly) at all, but it’s old school Dancehall magic)
Blue Riddim [Greatest Friends Records]
My old readers, from longtime, IMMEDIATELY can see why this one might interest me. I HAVE NO IDEA who Mota Favela, Shorty or Terry Bible are. None at all. And although I do know of both Roger B and [Burning] Spectacular, I definitely wouldn’t call myself a fan of either (although Spectacular does a good job here). However, I definitely am a fan EVERY SINGLE OTHER artist on Frenchie label Greatest Friends Records’ very well done Blue Riddim. And not only am I fan of theirs, but with the exception of Chezidek (who I run into, musically speaking, on an almost daily basis) they’re the type of artists who aren’t necessarily in the swing of things so much, so I’m generally ALWAYS happy to see them. QUEEN OMEGA, Mark Wonder, Natty King, PRINCE THEO, RAS MAC BEAN and ZAREB! I mean really? The tracklist almost looks like I (ME!) came up with it and when I saw the cover, I knew what I was dealing with. Thankfully, the Blue riddim itself is VERY NICE. It’s kind of a funky sounding, old school riddim with a lovely guitar added and it proves quite addictive actually. You just can’t take a lineup like the one which appears here and just fade away into the background, it simply isn’t possible (especially when I’m around). BIG release.
Best Tune: 'Dancehall Nice' by Natty King
BadMan Riddim [House Of Hits/Zojak Worldwide]
As if we didn’t settle things on the Saint Jago Dela Vega and the Sweetness, House Of Hits, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite labels going today has also brought forth the Badman Riddim album (via the same lovely people at Zojak Worldwide) (and there’s also the lover’s riddim album for the Your Love Riddim) (they don’t quit). The Badman riddim is SOLID in every sense of the word. It may not be as sensational as the Saint Jago and it may not be as GOOD as the Sweetness (which I still find myself listening to quite often), but this one is just all around well done. The Badman features HoH’s typical cache of top notch artists as well such as Lutan Fyah, Chrisinti, Koolant, Ras Charmer and label mainstays [Lady] Stream and Emmanuel Strain (curiously absent AGAIN is Marley Campbell) and also on board is Sizzla (again), Jah Mason, Junior Kelly and a very impressive Atara Rhu. Keeping things mighty nice and mighty impressive AGAIN, from a label you obviously can’t afford to ignore these days.
Best Tune: 'Still Be Around' by Chrisinti
Despite the HUGE successes had by Richie Spice in the last half decade or so and the fact that Spanner Banner returned to the scene in a large way in 2009 (and biggup Snatcha Dawg, or whatever he‘s calling himself these days), I still hold absolutely no reservations and offer no conditions to the fact that Pliers remains the most well known of the famed Bonner bros. As part of the greatest and most popular one-two punch in Reggae history, Pliers at this point, is pretty unarguably one of a very few BONAFIDE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE SUPERSTARS. Therefore, whenever he’s working on something, it should be a big deal, which is why I mention to you now, Sex & Religion. Yes. I know you’re thinking about that title. You may be, like I was originally, thinking that it was something outside of a Reggae album and while it certainly does have vibes mixed in from other genres, for the most part Sex & Religion is a Reggae/Dancehall album. The album really gets going after a slow start and WONDERFULLY, joining Pliers are a few of his ‘friends’ including brother Spice, Bascom X (of all people) and one very famous sparring partner.
Best Tune: ‘Love Can Make It Happen’ featuring Richie Spice
I don’t rightly know who B-Sharp Productions are and I don’t even know why this at least several months old riddim stands out for me, but it sure does! Oh. Well maybe it has something to do with Capleton, or Determine (in good form), or Chuck Fendah, or Everton Blender, or Half Pint, or PINCHERS, or Lutan Fyah, or Turbulence (in good form), or maybe even it’s Mark Wonder? Who in the hell knows, but a riddim with such a all-star roster of acts playing on the piece is definitely likely to get attentions from me, in one way or another (to the point where, even if it were horrible, I would have STILL told you that was the case). The actual Get Over, is also very nice and it plays so easily beneath most of the artists here (predictably), which so much helps to push this one to the forefront. The beautiful thing about this one: I’m not going to sugarcoat it and saying that the Get Over is AMAZING and every tune is so nice, but get at it digitally! Again, the beautiful people at Zojak have made it available and there are at least seven tunes here which are so nice, so load it up and pick it out.
Best Tune: 'Babylon Go Down' by Capleton
My favourite DasVibians are at it again. Following the very nice surprise that was Raz Bin Sam’s Own This Life, the always on-point label from all over the globe once again taps the land down under and from it, they draw on Elephant Wise. Bin Sam was an Israeli born artist who had moved to Australia and apparently Elephant Wise is another transplant, this time from KENYA (of all places), proving that the global magnet which is Reggae music can truly draw a human being to ANYWHERE in the world. As if we needed another relevant ‘Elephant’ (did you see what I did there???) in Reggae music today, Wise’s debut album is an extremely varied piece, which finds him going from style to style often in the balance of its fourteen tracks. I heard a few familiar things (including what I’m 99.9% sure is the King’s Highway Riddim), but the best thing I hear is what a work in progress. Elephant Wise still has a ways to go in terms of tangibly developing his skills (as does almost every artist in the world) (and every writer as well) (yours truly included), but CLEARLY there is a skill level there, so should you latch on right now, as long as he stays in the business, you won’t be waiting for NOTHING because The Reasoning shows him to be one of the better young talents outside of the Caribbean already.
Best Tune: 'Belly A Di Beast'
Shurwayne Winchester - Shurwayne Winchester & YOU
And lastly is by far the most talked about and never done review here at Achis’ Reggae (I feel kind of weird typing my own name, you know) is Shurwayne Winchester & You. I have good reason! After careful deliberation, I actually loaned the disc away and it seemingly never returned, however, re-listening to some of the tunes on the album, although 2009 certainly wasn’t the strongest of seasons for the man from Tobago, it may not have been as bad as I made it out to be. Strangely enough, however, what was the man’s greatest shot of the year, ‘Wicked’ is strangely absent from the album. Seeking to try and help make up for that are guesting spots from Maxi Priest and Serani (who sounds AWFUL) on two different tracks (and if I recall correctly, the version of Rough Wine actually on the album is the one sans Ce’Cile). And it’s SHURWAYNE WINCHESTER so while the album, in my opinion, failed to reach the lovely heights set by 2008’s STRONG Renaissance album, you can well expect to be entertained thoroughly here.
Best Tune: ‘I Wanna Make Love’