Thursday, August 30, 2012

Discography: Junior Kelly

Although he isn't likely to be remembered in the same way, Junior Kelly is an artist who very much belongs to the same class, in terms of both class and era, which produced Reggae greats such as Capleton, Sizzla Kalonji and Luciano. His music has reached the furthest corner of the Reggae listening world and has made him one of the more respected acts of his day. He's also someone who has very much paid his proverbial dues. As we examine today, his chosen road, although not always the clearest, has lead to a career which will never be forgotten. And although he is generally hailed as someone who hasn't necessarily gotten a proper amount of respect, I think in the case of Junior Kelly - the respect and the acknowledgement is well on its way. Today we take a look back at the work of one of Reggae's most stalwart and resolute of entities. Discography: Junior Kelly.

{Note: We intentionally did not include "What Will It Take"}

The music of Junior Kelly

"Rise" [JetStar Records - 2000]

Hail the uprising. Looking back, I think Junior Kelly's debut album, "Rise" is an album which has actually aged quite well. In its day it was certainly held as a bit of a disappointment, because of one glaring omission which its label, JetStar, would never actually correct, but it's hard to not be able to appreciate a great deal of the songs which actually did make it here more than a decade on. Besides the rumbling title track, standouts included the likes of 'Purified', the gorgeous 'More A Dat', 'Let It Be Me', 'Let It Grow' and my favourite tune on the album, 'Be Blessed'. 

"Juvenile" [Jetstar Records - 2001]

Remember. The "Juvenile" album is a pretty strange one in retrospect. That definitely isn't in terms of the music here (more on that in just a second), but as far as what has become of it. Out of all the work Kelly would do with JetStar Records (who had actually signed him to a contract) throughout his career this is the single best remembered album of them all. That's made even more curious when you accept the fact that it wasn't exactly packed with songs which would go on to be hits. Of course that isn't to say that it wasn't nearly stellar because it certainly was. The title track headed a group of thirteen which also included winning moments such as 'What Will It Take, which was a hit, 'Poor Cry', 'Ethiopia', 'Whoa Lord' and the MASSIVE 'Living Hell'. 

"Juvenile In Dub" [JetStar Records - 2001]

Companion piece. JetStar wasted absolutely no time in continuing the push of the "Juvenile" album as they would very soon later offer up its dubbed out counterpart, which was, and remains, a fairly unusual play. This album, although less crucial than the original (obviously), "Juvenile In Dub" served up a dub version of ten of the album's thirteen tracks and while this is a set which has, essentially, vanished these days, it's not a bad release. I've never been much of a Dub head, but something about the version of the title track a few other pieces on board this record really works for me.  

"Love So Nice" [VP Records - 2001]

'Love So Nice'

BOOM! There's so much to say about the "Love So Nice" album that I probably (definitely) can't get into even most of it here, but what prevails in the memory of this one is that - it was FANTASTIC! It was a modern classic [#8] in Junior Kelly's debut for anyone besides JetStar. To the surprise of hopefully no one it was VP Records stepping in to capitalize on the huge success of the title track (which would have been a couple of years old or so, already, by this point) and the would surround it in some truly masterful work as well. Songs like 'Clean Heart', 'Boom Draw', 'Hungry Days', 'Juvenile', 'Jah Nuh Dead', 'Standing Firm', 'Jewel of The Nile' and 'Go Down Satan' were ALL of a very select and super high class and really have degenerated in any sense through the years.

"Conscious Voice" [JetStar Records - 2002]

Bless. I may be almost completely alone in my full on LOVE of this album, but to some degree "Conscious Voice" is very much a personal modern classic for me as it contains music which has become very useful over the past decade from its release. The album may just be the most lyrically impressive that you'll find on this list and it's somewhat of a more compacted version of the album we just told you about because it is crawling with genuine BIG tunes throughout. 'What A Worries', 'Push A Fire', 'My Only Joy' alongside Chukki Starr, 'Dem Should A Know', 'Bun Down Rome', 'Jah Live On', 'Come One Day', 'Word Power' and others are HUGE tunes, but even they pale when compared to one of the best songs I've ever heard from anyone which is present on this album - the unending 'God Bless'.  

"Smile" [VP Records - 2003]

Never let them see you frown. The "Smile" album, easily, is one of the finest of Junior Kelly's catalog and it's just as simply one of the best remembered offerings you will find here today. It's even held in a significantly higher esteem than its two follow-ups for VP Records, which is a very good quality (and you could even make the case that, sans title track, it's better remembered than its predecessor as well). Besides its own title song which was GLOWING, 'Just Another Blend', 'African Bound', 'Nah Bow', 'Till The Soil', 'Can't Meditate', 'Trod' and 'Black Am I' highlighted an album which is a champion in this group. 

"Bless" [Penitentiary Records - 2003]

Real??? "Bless" is an album, exactly like the next album on this list that you now wonder about greatly because it arrived right when the entire madness of Penitentiary/Charm/Rude Boy Records would have been starting and its liners, complete with barest of credits (which were actually incorrect in some cases) across one page, definitely hint toward it being a machination of that woeful group of imprints (which I'm still very much convinced was ran by a dolphin). The songs came from pretty much everywhere with many different producers, so I'm inclined to say that this album is well within that makeshift project madness. It wasn't horrible (they usually weren't), but surely the excitement for most of its finest moments has all but vanished today. 

"Creation" [Penitentiary Records - 2004]

And another one. Everything we just said about "Bless", you can quote it, almost verbatim, for the "Creation" album. This album is a bit more solid than that set, but again, you kind of feel a little DIRTY for liking it, as a whole, these days, because it was almost certainly just thrown together for mess-like purposes. Like the last album, it too wasn't devoid of good moments (I'm sorry, but I LOVE 'Burdens Heavy'), but it's now a lost album and . . . It's probably for the best. 

"Tough Life" [VP Records - 2005]

Blaze. Taking out my allegiances to the "Conscious Voice" album (another album which came via a 'Penitentiary Records', but with JetStar legitimately on board), "Tough Life" is the second best album that Junior Kelly has ever done and I don't know that I'd completely shut out an argument for it being better than "Love So Nice" (even though that case would be an incorrect one). This album just exuded CLASS in so many directions and as the direct 'descendent' of the "Smile" album, you'd hope for nothing less and, in its time, it was a well received and appreciated set. That's no great shock - it was excellent. The MASSIVE hit 'Receive' was featured here alongside several standouts included the title track, 'Blaze' which was the title track for Pow Pow's huge riddim of the day, 'Satan Throne', 'Ease My Pain' 'Youths Dem Nah Cool', 'Rasta Should Be Deeper', and a couple of remakes featuring help from the immortal Dennis Brown and JC Lodge

{Note: "Tough Life" & "Smile" featured the same 'Give Thanks' sections from Junior Kelly}

"Live In San Francisco" [2B1 Multimedia - 2007]

& Direct. Just in case you've forgotten at all how useful the people 2B1 Multimedia were in their day, they also got around to doing a project for Junior Kelly before they left the business, which is something that is SO NICE and they deserve a big credit for it. "Junior Kelly Live In San Francisco" wasn't the greatest of their batch (biggup Batch), the crowd response was never great here, but the fact that Junior Kelly has a live album in his vault is just an excellent thing. Dean Fraser, Mikey General and Luciano (who also had one of these) made appearances.

"Red Pond" [VP Records - 2010]

In motion. And lastly (this didn't take long at all to write) - Junior Kelly's most recent album release, "Red Pond" from VP Records in 2010 is one which I don't think has quite gotten to where it's going yet and it may very well be a few more years before it does (but I think that it will ultimately). The album has gone somewhat overlooked, but the more and more you listen to it, it 'unravels’ very much into the type of project which will take awhile. It's kind of interesting now because this is the type of thing I lament over - going on and on about how people neglected in REALLY listening here - but I'm almost sure that someday they will come around to the realisation that "Red Pond" was excellent. Let's just give them a minute.  

So! While some of these (two in particular) are best left as a part of a history which is summarily forgotten, Junior Kelly has had a fine catalog and one which continues to deliver from years back today, into the future. 

No comments:

Post a Comment