JW Records Digital
Okay, by far the biggest and most timely occurrence over the past two weeks here is the fact that what I believe is the world’s largest distributor of Soca and Calypso music, JW Records, has FINALLY gone digital (through Tunecore). What this means, potentially, is that very hard to find and downright invisible releases from the likes of Bunji Garlin, Destra and Shurwayne Winchester are in store for fans worldwide and it isn’t a moment too soon. What it also and already means is the same for some of superstar Machel Montano & Xtatik’s catalogue. As you can see, now available are both 1997’s Heavy Duty and Charge from the following year (which contain ‘Big Truck’ and ‘Footsteps’, the Road March winners from 1997 and 1998, respectively). And that isn’t all - also currently available are classic releases from the likes of Lord Kitchener, Crazy, Baron and Black Stalin as well!
Welcome To Montserrat Vol. 1 & 2 [Faluma]
A little while back, I told you about the one Jah Marnyah, an up and coming fiery chanter from out of Montserrat and I attempted to chase down a few other Reggae artists from the ‘Emerald Isle’ and certainly this release would prove to be most helpful in that. While Faluma continues to be void of rocket launchers in their ranks, they’ve done very well by me in releasing this Welcome To Montserrat compilation. The first disc is more Reggae heavy with efforts from artists such as Specaduss, Nerise and Ryan Eye (4x) and it makes way for disc two which is on a Soca vibes and features former Montserrat Soca monarch and Faluma artist, Scrappy on no less than six of the disc’s nine tunes. VERY good release.
Necessary Mayhem [Necessary Mayhem/Zojak Worldwide]
The boys & girls at Zojak Worldwide didn’t take the break with me and have been up to their usual shenanigans and this one (like most of theirs) is top notch. I told you about it briefly before (I was even completely sure that it was their work), but the SENSATIONAL UK upstart label, Necessary Mayhem, has made the link with Zojak and because of that are now receiving attention like so. They should also receive your attention because their output, several riddim albums, are beautiful rebirths of classic riddims using some of the UK’s top talents. Besides the Joker Smoker and Rumours riddims which you see here, you can also pickup the Police In Helicopter and hopefully the link will continue and lead to some BIG efforts from the Curtis Lynch and the Necessary Mayhem crew, because all I’ve heard thus far has been more than impressive.
You should probably go and take advantage of this wonderful proposition. Since essentially closing up shop as far as being a managerial source, Penthouse Records has returned to production and in a HEAVY way with big tunes and big releases coming from everywhere. They’ve been so active, in fact, that at a point during last year, it almost seemed like they were pushing out a new compilation each and every week (like making up for lost time). Well, because of a tendency to use their material from other spots which may be very familiar to fans, I think the digital market, which makes ‘picking and choosing’ so simple, is PERFECT for what they’ve been up to. So far, they’ve been sure to include what is the JEWEL of their releases, a new (compiled) Beres Hammond album as well as a couple of compilations which figure to be just the beginning (now if I could just get them to get that Jahmel album back out!).
Netzah Riddim [Rose Gold Entertainment/Zojak Worldwide]
This BIG and BEAUTIFUL riddim from ZJ Rose’s Rose Gold label is now available digitally worldwide via Zojak. The Netzah is a SPARKLING and while it comes here, in just an EP form with four tunes, it features a HEAVY group of artists including Pressure Busspipe (more on him later), Richie Spice, ace producer Don Corleone and a combination featuring the incomparable Jah Cure alongside son of the great Alton Ellis, Christopher. If you haven’t had the opportunity to vibe this one, definitely check it out, is was one of the best riddims from 2009. Period.
The Chantells & Friends - Children Of Jah 1977-1979 [Mixing Lab/Zojak Worldwide]
I know I usually (always) tend to focus on the new and the modern era releases, but when I stumbled across this GEM, I knew I had to get my hands on it (and I will). Look at it as a collector’s item or just look at it as BIG material, but Children Of Jah is SPECIAL and it finally makes its way to the digital side. Of course it’s The Chantells and they’re GREAT and one of the better Reggae groups of all time, HOWEVER, should you have the opportunity to (and now you do) come across ANYTHING carrying the name ‘Lopez Walker’, you need to dive on that my friend and that’s exactly what you’ll find here (four times). HUGE!
Cocoa Tea - Buju [Roaring Lion/Zojak Worldwide]
Not to be outdone by Anthony B, Sizzla (which I actually liked) and whoever else has added their thoughts on the matter (like 5,000 other people) is Reggae’s reigning king of current events, Cocoa Tea who offers his take on the situation surrounding the controversial Buju Banton with a tune called. . . ‘Buju‘. I don’t actually this song (it’s not HORRIBLE) and I include it mainly because the little response I’ve heard thus far has been quite positive (including from my Wife). So maybe I’m a damn fool and you’ll actually enjoy it as well. Check it out.
Marcus I - Songs Of The Matrix EP [Marcus I Productions/Zojak Worldwide]
I chose to include Marcus I’s Songs Of The Matrix EP despite the fact that I don’t know a damn thing about the man or his label and I think that the vocals are a little OFF, because I was so pleasantly when I begin spinning through this one. There’re only three tunes here, ’Live Up’, ’Go Now’ and ’Endurance’ (a remake of Black Uhuru’s WICKED tune of the same title) and they’re all VERY good tunes. Definitely there’s quite a bit of old school vibes (and they all may actually be remakes) and it works to near perfection for Marcus I (whoever the hell he is).
Maurice - In My Dreams [Rymshot Productions/Zojak Worldwide]
And lastly from Zojak this time (at least I think lastly) is this tune from singer Maurice who I believe I owe a bit of apology, because when I first saw it and actually saw him, my hopes weren’t very high AT ALL. Well, lo and behold, ‘Maurice’ happened to be the same Maurice who guested on the tune ’Baby Girl’ from the outstanding Coming Back For You album from Pressure Busspipe last year . And when I saw that whole ‘Rymshot Productions’ tag, I also had to be impressed because that meant Dean Pond and company as well. The actual tune here, the Caribbean specialized ‘In My Dreams’, is SMOOTH AS HELL! The Kingston born Maurice is the latest in a helluva long stretch of very good artists to either be discovered or taken to a higher level due to the help of Dean Pond and you shouldn’t expect less results and if this tune is any indication (and it is), his forthcoming album Closure should be a winner as well.
Splinta Riddim [Boardhouse Records]
Assassin and the fine people at Boardhouse Records dropped this HEAVY Dancehall riddim at the end of 2009 (I want to say October-November maybe) and in terms of PURE Dancehall it didn’t get much better than the Splinta at all in 2009. The riddim, for me, has a bit of an unfortunately old school sound as seemingly Hip-Hop has invaded the Dancehall to disturbing levels, but that isn’t a problem here. Also not a problem are efforts from the ever absent [Baby] Cham, [Lady] Spice, D’Angel and of course, Assassin himself. If you find yourself, like me, annoyed as hell by these kind of FREAKY sounding Rappish riddims with Dancehall artists (I guess) on them.
Reggae Anthology: Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes - Volcano Eruption [17 N. Parade/VP Records]
Lastly (and quickly), I’m sure I must’ve mentioned this somewhere before (and I wrote about it for UnitedReggae.com) but having now gotten my hands on the actual disc (biggup Nate), I must say that I am WELL pleased with how this turned out. Volcano Eruption features tunes like ‘Prison Oval Rock’, the original ‘Police In Helicopter’, ‘Ice Cream Love’ and ‘Look How Me Sexy’ (and that’s just on disc one), which have become PILLARS in Reggae and Dancehall music, so you know what you’re getting into on that end. But, what you’ll also find is an AWESOME DVD included in the pack which I won’t spoil for you too much, but it features interviews with many of Junjo’s artists over the years speaking of the late great musical master and it even features a SESSION featuring Rankin Toyan, King Yellowman, Josey Wales and Louie Lepke which is NOT TO BE MISSED.