Today we're going to take a look at a catalog which is equal parts completely brilliant and somewhat disappointing at the same time. Turbulence is someone who has spent his career, very much, not only showing a very rare and seldom attained level of quality dominance, due to his immense talents, but also… not living up to those levels as well. Unfortunately, being extremely talented doesn't always translate into being extremely consistent and that's something which has also been apparent in the career of Turbulence. Today we take a look at the many twists and turns within one of the most interesting careers in the whole of modern Reggae music. Discography: Turbulence.
|The music of Turbulence|
"Turbulence" [Xterminator Productions - 2000]
Xterminate. Following in the footsteps of such grand talents as Luciano, Sizzla Kalonji and others, Turbulence's debut and self-titled album marked the coming of the next great light shining from the immortal Philip 'Fattis' Burrell and Xterminator Productions. This album, unsurprisingly, has kind of vanished from the scene (partially due to, at least in my opinion, the next album I'm going to tell you about overshadowing it to some degree), but it did leave us with a fine early impression of the artist. Listening to it now it's managed to actually age quite well. You can REALLY hear the youth in Turbulence here now, but still tunes such 'Love Can Make A Difference', 'Freedom Call', 'One Gun' [BOOM!], 'Don't Let Them Stoop You Low' ["Hotta than di fyah weh Kalonji ah burn. Hotta than di shot dem weh buss inna western"] and a few other tracks still stand tall and while they should have been a harbinger of what was to come, the occasional SAPPY love song on "Turbulence", didn't derail the album at all.
"Rising" [VP Records - 2001]
To the top. Maybe there is some grand type of significance to the fact that the second album of Turbulence's career, "Rising", his debut album for VP Records, remains his widely regarded opus nearly eleven years after its release date and with nineteen younger 'siblings' having followed in its footsteps. This Xterminator produced set was fantastic, classy and still the greatest representation and display of Turbulence's most quaking of skills. "Rising" featured songs of a variety of styles and deliveries, but at its core, the aptly titled project was a showcase for a star who was very much in the process of doing exactly what the title suggested. All of these years later, it's loaded with highlights: 'Give Her Weh She Want', 'Make Sure She Clean', 'Friends Like These', 'Mamma Is Here', the title track alongside LMS, 'Love Can Make A Difference' ["inna wi life, inna wi life"] and pretty every song on this album - a bonafide modern classic.
"Different Thing" [Minor 7 Flat 5 - 2003]
Same thing. Despite its title, "Different Thing", in retrospect, wasn't a great deviation from what Turbulence had shown throughout his first two albums and in the early stages of his career, in general. The label here, Minor 7 Flat 5, which would go on to a supreme level of activity subsequently for a few years, did, however, direct a very good album which has aged fairly well. I just like how CLEAN this album was in terms of its sound. It's still so impressive in that respect and while it doesn't necessarily show Turbulence in some type of unusual light (THANKFULLY we hadn't arrived at that point yet) it does have a very unique place on this list. Mark Wonder, Lutan Fyah and Taffari all guested on the album which usually doesn't stray too far from my players
"The Future" [Lustre Kings Productions/Jet Star Records - 2003]
The present. I loooove "The Future" album and I have probably been and will continue to be its largest cheerleader. While I'll have no problem in acknowledging that it wasn't the greatest thing on this list, the Lustre Kings Productions helmed release just had a great deal of something about it which made it grow in my favour and whatever that something was, it hasn’t diminished at all over the course of the last nine years or so. It wasn't at a modern classic type of level, but on a personal one, tunes like 'Go and Tell The World', 'Revolution Pon Di Wicked' and definitely 'We Need Liberation' alongside Digital Ancient remain classics for me.
"Join Us" [Kingston Records/Bogalusa Records - 2003]
Join me. The way I feel about "Join Us" is similar to the album on this list preceding it, however the emotion is MUCH more concentrated. I think "Join Us" was a GREAT album, I'm the only one in the world who feels like that and I don't care at all! Produced by a significant maestro who would go on to do a major amount of work, Kemar 'Flava' McGregor, this album has just a found a place for me which is unlike almost any other which comes to mind. Most people found it average or worse, but I thought and still do think that it was the second best album of this post. Leading the pack here were songs such as the somewhat relatable 'Based on A True Story', 'Look Wock', 'Turbulence', the title track and even 'Name and Number', which would go on to be a sizable hit - the largest from this album.
"The Truth" [Ras Records - 2003]
Faded. Despite the fact that, ostensibly, "The Truth" album had quite a few different nice things going for it, it has largely faded from the memory of most I believe by this point. Coming in a year in which, as you can see, served up four other albums from Turbulence, it definitely was the lowest profile and that was the case in the face of it being another Xterminator production and being for the once mighty Ras Records. It wasn't the best album of the year, and looking back, it's pretty average actually, but it well did have its moments, some of which persist to this day. 'Selassie I' was the most 'determined' of them all, but 'Babylon Cruelty' ["dem dirty, dem filthy"] is another definite stop for when I spin through this album.
"Hail To The King" [VP Records - 2003]
The Most High. In contrast to the album directly ahead of it on this list, the also Xterminator manned "Hail To The King" is easily the most high profile set of the quintet of Turbulence studio albums from 200 - and you could even go to make the argument that it is one of the most high profile of his entire career (I was about to say that it was arguably THE most of his career, until scanning down approximately six albums on this list or so). Besides being the direct descendant of "Rising", as Turbulence's second VP Records album, it was just a very well put together set (the cover and packaging were gorgeous). Interestingly, however, I don't think that I'll say this album has gotten better with time and I don't have the same affinity for it that I once did, but it's still a pretty good album, although one which is quietly very VARIED. Definitely it is highlighted by one of the greatest intros of the modern era and I'll never tire of hearing tunes like 'Good Draw'. 'We Deserve', 'They Must Go Down' and 'Live & Let Live', but some of the other, more 'colourful' selections have dulled over the years, including 'Rasta Fiesta' which features another crucial Xterminator find (and excellent subject for a future edition of "Discography"), Chezidek.
"Words Of Wisdom" [Love Injection Productions - 2004]
Cool times. Not to the levels of "The Future" and certainly not to the levels of "Join Us", but the Spider Ranks licked "Words Of Wisdom" album is one which I also find myself enjoying more than most people although, in this instance, I wouldn't dare to attempt to hoist this one up as anything besides a very slightly better than average album at best. What it had going for it was the class of this album, which would have been amongst the very best of almost any album in this post. I'm talking about pieces like the cool title track, 'No Bloodshed', 'Rasta Man', 'Repatriation' and one or two others (like 'Come A Long Way'). With that being said, 'Tears Fall', 'Good Girl' and the downright gruesome 'All About You' are sure to keep this one from being too good. Not surprisingly if you've followed Turbulence to any close degree, all of those are love songs of some type.
"Triumphantly" [Kingston Records - 2004]
The standout. Here we have an album, "Triumphantly" - the followup to "Join Us" - which was actually pretty well-received if I recall correctly in its day. Once again produced by Kemar McGregor, the album had a quality which was much more immediately discernible (for better or for worse) than its predecessor and while I certainly wouldn't call it 'flashy' to any degree, many did react quite well to it. Now, it exists as pretty average in my opinion. It’s definitely the type of an album which is low on the SPECTACULAR, with the only lasting impression here being of 'Music Is Life', which featured Turbulence alongside the legendary Luciano. I've also always really enjoyed 'Blood Dem Out', but passed those, listening to any tune on this album is just a decent experience at best.
"I Believe" [M Records/Twilight Circus - 2004]
…in it. I am going to make the case that the most unique "I Believe" album was better than average, but it surely wasn't MUCH better. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this set when it reached, and eight years later, I still do. Personally, it's one of my favourite albums that Turbulence has done and while I might have a difficult time explaining my preference for its quality over an album such as "Hail To The King" or the final two records here, I do enjoy it more than all of them for the most part. Checking in at just fifteen tracks, this album, which arrived via M Records and Twilight Circus, still well made an impact on me and I still find myself referring people to it when asked for a not to obvious album selection from this artist. I'm going to do it again - for you - pick up the "I Believe" album. It's better than you think it is.
"Songs Of Solomon" [VP Records - 2004]
Downhill. Today I can look back at the "Songs Of Solomon", primarily, as the album point where Turbulence's output began to take a turn for the worse. It wasn't that this album was SO BAD, and there're a handful of pieces which are to come still which are significantly worse, but despite Xterminator and VP Records once again being collectively involved on a Turbulence album, there was not a single musical thing which was remarkable about ANY of the fifteen tracks on this album. Not a single one.
"Upright" [Black Scorpio Records - 2005]
WHO! I suppose that, technically speaking, "Upright" isn't even an album which should be on this list as it was done by an individual named TurbulAnce, and today we're dealing strictly with Turbulence. But, I think that the two artists are similar enough (in every way) that we included it anyway. This Black Scorpio album came during a time when the famed imprint had released a handful of albums from big artists as also delivering albums were Anthony B and Capleton. Looking back now, the "Upright" album was probably stronger than just about anyone gave it credit for being, but only slightly above being mediocre, if it was that at all - it's just fallen out of memory for most now. It did have its moments and they were shared in between featuring spots from Turbulence's group once famed Higher Trod and Josie Mel.
"Notorious: The Album" [VP Records - 2006]
Have big tune - must make album - immediately. The philosophy behind what would ultimately become the "Notorious: The Album" project seemed, primarily, to be installed in order to capitalize on one of the biggest tunes of its time and the single biggest tune of Turbulence's career, still. 'Notorious' the song did a major amount of damage and it simply needed an album, but it never would actually come to be. WHAT! Most memorable about the album named "Notorious" is that the song was never actually on it. Instead, a reproduced and lesser track (actually produced by the same produced, Piloni, behind the MASSIVE "Never Give Up" album by Jah Mason) makes the album for some unknown reason to anyone not being VP Records. This same album supported another big hit, 'Front Line [Want A Natty]', which featured Turbulence alongside his 'x-girlfriend', DJ Sasha and the dietary conscious 'Run Away'. And that's it! Thirteen songs and three of them were really worth anything. This album has always seemed to be very rushed and just sort of thrown together to capture a winning time and it did just that - unfortunately it really didn't do anything else.
"Nah Sell Out" [Jet Star Records/Charm Records - 2006]
Born for this? "Nah Sell Out" has basically been forgotten as an album and as singles, for the most part, so has every individual tune on it. It was an okay album, but I'm not at all upset or angered that history has claimed it and I'm not even going to suggest that you pick it up. It was decent, it nice tunes like the title track[s] 'Firm' and 'We Shall Never Fail', but nothing really exceptional. The most interesting thing about this album, however, and what remains when I think of it is that it was yet another piece from that company of Charm which… just really had something wrong with it. "Nah Sell Out" was also called "Born For This". It had two titles. And while it was apparently legitimate, a most precious quality here, it received NOTHING in the way of promotion and whoever put it together (whoever those people were and I guess it is a large assumption on my part to say that they were actually people) really didn't care what happened to it. So perhaps the title "Born For This" was most fitting as it was created for the same fate it would ultimately receive.
"X-Girlfriend" [Tad's Records - 2006]
Looking up. While I wasn't the biggest fan of the Tad's Records generated "X-Girlfriend" album, I just kind of like the fact that it exists because of the fact that the album was very popular and popular at a time where Turbulence, fresh off the successes of 'Notorious', was seemingly well on his way to being the kind of superstar that it wa s predicted that he would one day become. He had scored a large hit with the title track for this album and another tune, 'Ital Stew' (which is basically the same song as the aforementioned 'Run Away' from the "Notorious" album), also did very well and this album was very popular, like I said. While Turbulence's winning form wasn't to be very long, "X-Girlfriend", which was basically an average album and one which was a bit too long, is still one of his top two or three best known sets and that's a pretty good thing.
"Do Good" [Minor 7 Flat 5 - 2007]
Do… something. I used to really like the second and final album that Turbulence did for Minor 7 Flat 5, "Do Good", but things have changed. Unlike its predecessor, "Do Good", which has also gone around and around in my tastes, but has now seemingly ended up on the good side, "Do Good" has very much become an album which I don't think was alongside his finest work. That definitely has something to do with the fact that the album would very closely resemble some of the other pieces of work from the label which ran those riddims into your head, out of your head and back again over the courses of I don't even remember how many albums (surely the best of them all was Anthony B's "My Hope"), but for what was on the album as well, it was just okay now. I still do appreciate tunes like 'Pursue', 'Freedom Train' with Luciano and a couple of others, but "Do Good" was really another average record, looking back.
"Stronger Than Before" [Cousins Records - 2007]
Mirrors! Like the one before it, "Stronger Than Before" was an average album and it definitely shared quite a bit of other traits in common with the "Do Good" album. It, too, was a product of a label, this time In The Streetz, which was very active in doing albums in that timeframe ("surely the best of them all was" Sizzla's "I-Space") and it also has become a project which has been somewhat lost in that shuffle of those albums. That's fine, in retrospect, because it wasn't very good, but it did have a few nice tunes which now seem to be reserved for the ears of only the hardest of hardcore fans.
"United" [Kingston Records - 2007]
Lineage? On paper, it seemed well enough. "United" was an album preceded by the massive "Join Us" and the solid "Triumphantly" in terms of where it came from but something crazy just happened with this one. It was clichéd, it was passionless at times - it really just seemed like they set out to make a Reggae album and… that's what they did. It was easily the poorest lyrical effort of Turbulence's career and "United" was just a cursory album. I hate to say such stuff about it, but it was really a bad album and time hasn't changed that in half a decade and it never will.
"Love Me For Me" [Love Injection Productions - 2007]
Uhmmmm. I still don't quite know what to think of the "Love Me For Me" album, all of these years later. It wasn't any good. That's obvious. And that was so despite me really wanting it to be good for it was the followup to "Words Of Wisdom" which, as I said, I liked on some level. Still I do rate this one somewhere greater than absolutely horrible and that's largely due to it containing a couple of solid tracks here and there, but nothing really lasting five years on from its release date.
"The Journey" [Sajay Productions - 2010]
In motion. Having had a nice reason to recently go back and vibe "The Journey" from Sajay Pridctions album a great deal as of late, I'm very happy to say that I think that I may eventually come to the point regarding it as a TRULY good album. I'd be shocked if it ever got anywhere larger than that in my opinion, but after so many albums where, in totality, the best thing I can come up with is 'average' or something on that level, "The Journey" was exactly that, a voyage to something remotely resembling an album from someone as talented as Turbulence is. 'Standing Tall', 'Stand Up', 'Talk Tings', 'Saviour', 'Tafari Win' ["mi go tell di people dem a salvation over bling"] and a few others really left a nice impression and while the album wasn't devoid of bad songs (hear 'No One'… as a matter of fact, DON'T hear 'No One') and it wasn't a vintage Turbulence in full, it was a DAMN tasty glimpse of what he once was and hopefully was still capable of.
"Celebration of Life" [Leaf of Life Productions - 2012]
Big fete. And now where we end is with Turbulence (who is now still very young at thirty-two I believe) having turned up two consecutive pretty good albums and two albums which're certainly something better than "average", "decent" or "mediocre". His most recent release, "Celebration of Life" for Leaf of Life Productions may've been even better than "The Journey", but I'm going to HOPEFULLY forever take them as an intertwined pair - existing on as the point where Turbulence righted the proverbial ship and went back to being brilliant again.
As I said when we began (which wasn't that long ago actually, I'm getting better at these) (twenty-one albums following 142 just really isn't too many anymore), going through Turbulence's album is going through turns and twists, ups and downs and hills and valleys. He's been all over the place and he's gone in those directions somewhat frustratingly because if you REALLY listen to Turbulence, you know just how good can be. We ended on a strong note with two strong albums lately and if EVER Turbulence becomes what he so clearly once was, that will be the greatest 'celebration'.