Monday, April 18, 2011

What I'm Listening To: April

Obviously well on my way to being stomach sick (AGAIN) - This is what's on my players these days

“Reggae Anthology: Music Is The Rod” by Garnet Silk [VP Records - 2004]

'Zion In A Vision'

If you never actually got your hands (physically or digitally) on this WONDERFUL set, then certainly you a horrible person and I’d like you to leave now. I don’t spend a great deal of time discussing his work and I’m probably not going to in the future, but Garnet Silk is simply one of the BEST representatives Reggae music has ever had and probably ever will have. This collection from VP’s once potent Reggae Anthology series, ”Music Is The Rod” featured thirty six big tunes, spread over two discs, from the legendary singer and, realistically, it covered just about everything you would have imagined that it would (hardcore Silk fans, obviously, will have a tune (or ten) that it didn’t cover properly). The first disc brought in the biggest pieces such as ‘Splashing Dashing’, ‘Kingly Character’, ‘Hello Africa’ and others, but the second disc was strong also containing the project’s title track ‘Fill Us Up With Your Mercy’, the resounding ‘Zion In A Vision’ (which may be my own personal favourite tune from Silk’s catalog) and, perhaps most interestingly, a nearly half hour long interview conducted in the year of his death (February, 1994) which, amongst other things, FINALLY cleared up the rather hilariously mysterious spelling of his first name, Garnet (as opposed to GarnetT). This release was mandatory and so much fun to draw on occasionally . . . Or every day.

“Vizionary” by Batch [Itation Records - 2008]

'Wi Nah Lose'

If you’ll allow me to brag for just a moment - Clearly the best thing about me, as a human being, is the fact that I know REALLY good music when I hear it. Perhaps there exists no greater example of this than my CONTINUOUS listening to someone like Batch and, as of late, my favourite Batch album has been his most recent release (which was a curiously long three years ago). In retrospect, what I’m going to say about ”Vizionary” is that it was more ‘loose’ than some of his other albums, it had more of a free-flowing type of vibes to it and, in this instance, it worked so well. The two highlights for me remain ‘Wicked World’, which featured both VI Reggae superstars Pressure Busspipe and Ras Attitude and the album’s DAMAGING single, ‘We Nah Lose’. But recently, I’ve taken a heavy interest in the album’s closer, ‘Savage’, which should be considered one of the greatest pieces of work Batch has ever done, and also the very ‘unfastened’ herbalist set, ‘Sooner Or Later’ on which Batch shows himself (again) to be one of the living masters of the ganja song.

“Black Spaniard” by Bunji Garlin [JW Records - 2003]

'Soca Bhangra' w/Shammi

'Snake Oil'

Out of them all . . . Certainly it isn’t my favourite of Bunji Garlin’s albums, but for some reason (which I’m about to tell you), the project which, at least as far as titles go, has become his signature release, ”Black Spaniard”, has found its way comfortably on my players for the better part of the past month or so. Clearly this album just had too many damn songs. Checking in at twenty, had they cut it back to maybe 14-15 or so, it could’ve been something potentially special. However, with that being said, there’re still 14-15 really good songs on this album and because I don’t draw for it too often, when I do, I usually am going to find something interesting which I didn’t before. At this point, such a tune, DEFINITELY, is ‘Wild Apache’, and that song is given more and more light here when you consider the fact that tunes present here include the title track, ‘Soca Bhangra’ (with Shammi), ‘Wishful Encounters’, ‘Dread Presidents’ (with 3 Suns) and the LETHAL ‘No Apology’. OH and "Black Spaniard” just happens to also be the album which contains the original version of the MASSIVE ‘Snake Oil’, one of my (and yours) favourites from Garlin.

“Fire Ball“ [Calibud Music/Brickwall/Zojak - 1999/2011]

'I Burn' by Bushman

Biggup the functioning musical wizards at Zojak Worldwide for reenergizing this decent set (which sounds even better these days having not heard much of this material in quite some time) from more than a decade ago. ”Fire Ball” was one of those releases which appeared through Brick Wall, which was Bobby Digital’s once (over) active releasing label and here we had a compilation, like many, which came from Calibud (Digital’s son) and just featured a few REALLY big tunes. Its sixteen tracks were split evenly between two riddims, the title composition, which was a pounding Dancehall (actually Dancehall) (damn shame I have to make those distinctions) and the Zion Riddim, a slower STERLING Roots piece. Taking on the former were the likes of Elephant Man, Mr. Vegas, General B and even Shabba Ranks, while the latter brought in its own line of heavy hitters such as Gregory Isaacs, Admiral Tibet, Chrisinti, Sizzla Kalonji and the Bushman who, in my opinion, gave the riddim and the album their collective finest piece, the concussive ‘I Burn’.

Lover’s Rock Riddim [Music Mecka Records/Zojak Worldwide - 2011]

'Lover's Rock' by Sophia Brown

This one would have probably been PERFECT if they could’ve gotten it in by Valentine’s Day a couple of months back, but it is better late than never and I’m currently WELL enjoying the full on version of a riddim which ignited last year in the form of the title track, ‘Lover's Rock’ by veteran Sophia Brown, on her own Music Mecka Records imprint. The riddim is just a gorgeous piece and, unsurprisingly, the showstopper here is the big tune which everyone knows already and while I’m still trying to actually work out how I feel about the balance of tunes here, I am well enjoying songs from Anthony Que, of course Ginjah (whose tune, ‘No Man A No Stone’, is outstanding) and a couple of others and at the same time, I’m definitely expecting a big future for Ms. Brown.

"Riddim Rider Vol. 20: Father Jungle Rock" [Free Will/Jet Star - 2004]

'One Pound A Day' by Ras Moses, John Holt & Cornell Campbell

Kind of hinted at this one yesterday if you recall (and surely you don’t) because I’ve been drumming this one up for a little while now. It’s Free Willy’s take on the old No Warrior Riddim, better known as the Father Jungle Rock which Jet Star would release on its retrospectively quite decent Riddim Rider series back in 2004. Today, this piece is best known as the riddim which backed I Wayne’s monstrous hit, ‘Can’t Satisfy Her’ and although Free Willy’s version is ever so slightly different from the piece from that big tune (at least to my ears), it’s still quite lovely. This version spawned excellent tunes such as Sizzla’s ‘Let’s Go Somewhere’ and definitely the massive ‘One Pound A Day’, the big combination featuring Ras Moses alongside John Holt and Cornell Campbell. There were also superb efforts from Determine (twice), Mega Banton, Junior Kelly, Luciano (“a mi dem waan fi bless it up!”) and the tune ‘From Wah Day’, a long personal favourite of mine from long time resident of David House, the ridiculously overlooked Military Man.

“Tes Valeurs” by Sweety [Warner/WEA 2002]

'Donne Moi'

And finally - I’ve kind of had a ‘love/hate’ relationship with this album from since I first knew that it actually existed. ‘Sweety’, of course, is actually Achis Reggae favourite Lady Sweety, the DOMINANT Dancehall DJ from out of Guadeloupe and ”Tes Valeurs” was her actually her debut set and not the self titled excellence which would come half a decade later (and apparently it’s looking like we’ll end up having to wait a next half decade before her next one, which would then come next year) (oh well) and although it wasn’t as good as that album, it still had its fair share of big tunes. Certainly one of the biggest was a remix of ‘Bring All Your Lovin’ featuring none other than Sizzla Kalonji but, there was also the Nyah drum backed closer, ‘Prière’, the single ‘Donne Moi’, ‘Hotty Gal’ (which is simply intoxicating) and the utterly ridiculous ‘Fraggle Up’ - Which sounds EXACTLY as you expect it might.

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