Monday, April 15, 2013

Discography: Jah Cure

Although music, in general, and Reggae, in particular, are absolutely brimming with such a wide variety and diverse group of people, each of whom have very unique stories to tell, some are even more unique than  unique others. In terms of the contemporary framing of the genre, there likely isn't anyone we have today with a more unusual background than Jah Cure who, infamously, had a once promising and up and coming career derailed by a very long incarceration, during which his musical legend progressed and grew and it could very well be argued that, by the time of his 2007 release (and even a year or two prior to it), Jah Cure had already become one of the most popular Reggae singers in the world. Today we take a look at his musical stops along the way and check one of the most interesting and subtly comprehensive album catalogues of the modern era, from the single greatest voice I have ever heard in my entire life. Discography: Jah Cure

The music of Jah Cure
"Free Jah's Cure" [J & D Distributors - 2000]

Freedom. Although it would be quite a few years later when the more steady and wider-reaching calls for freedom of the then recently imprisoned singer would reach their zenith, 'formally' one could well trace them back to his debut album, "Free Jah's Cure". Essentially a compilation from J & D who would also do albums for Capleton & Anthony B, Luciano and Qshan Deya, "Free Jah's Cure" would include production from the likes of the Firehouse Crew, Iley Dread from Kings of Kings, Syl Gordon and Henfield Records amongst others. It would also find its strength in containing some of the early tunes for which the singer came to be known. Highlighting the set were 'Jah Bless Me' [TEARS!], 'Chant' alongside Spectacular, 'Working So Hard' with Jah Mason, 'Songs of Freedom', 'Get Up, Stand Up' (forgot how good that song was until recently) and others. The album has aged quite well through the years. If I recall correctly, it was re-released not an incredibly long time ago and it has also reached the digital market and it also, as you might expect, holds some sentimental and nostalgic value as being Jah Cure's first album, but it was more than just that. It was also really, really good. 
"Ghetto Life" [VP Records - 2003]

Zion way. Although I am fond of pretty much every album on this list, with the exception of one, to my opinion it isn't even a question of substantiality at all as to which was his best. In 2003, right in the middle of his sentence, VP Records would deliver the sophomore album of Jah Cure, "Ghetto Life", and do it in a very familiar way. Producing every song on the fifteen-track release with a single exception (coincidentally, 'Zion Way', on which he sang backups), was the legendary Beres Hammond and his Harmony House imprint, who was also (obviously) so instrumental in bringing the Cure to prominence. "Ghetto Life" was MAMMOTH and if I were to make a list of my top ten favourite albums EVER, I don't know that it wouldn't be on that list somewhere, it probably would be. It was HUGE! 'Every Song I Sing', 'King In This Jungle' with Sizzla Kalonji, 'Western Region', 'Zion Await', 'Hail To My King' [TEARS!], 'the title track, 'Dung In Deh', 'Vibes Man A Build', the other huge combination with Jah Mason, 'Run Come Love Me' and… pretty much every song on this album was a standout - just like the album, itself. DAMN!
"Freedom Blues" [VP Records - 2005]

Come again. Looking back, perhaps it was Jah Cure's fervently growing popularity (perhaps I shouldn't say "perhaps" - clearly that was the idea) which spurred VP Records to put together his second album for the label and third overall, "Freedom Blues". The problem, of course, was that the Cure was still in jail and had yet to fully reach that point in the late stages of his stay where it seemed as if he was one of the genre's most active of stars. So! What do you do if you want to fill an album and you don't have a great deal of material to work with? You reverse it. By my surely incorrect and inaccurate count, "Freedom Blues" shares ten of its actual seventeen tracks (it has an intro) with the first album here, "Free Jah's Cure" (which has twelve, so almost every song on that album appears here), and another 'King In This Jungle', with "Ghetto Life". So only four of the songs (and the intro) on "Freedom Blues" were unique to it. However, I'm still not complaining, especially given the circumstances - "Freedom Blues" was still a very good album. It would carry the singer's cut of the very popular I Swear Riddim, 'Good Morning Jah Jah', the sublime Xterminator produced 'Troddin The Valley', 'Love Is The Solution' from the Morgans and the ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way) 'Hi Hi' which was produced by veteran Dancehall DJ, Alozade, and displayed the unnecessarily stunning powers of the voice of Jah Cure. 
"True Reflections" [VP Records - 2007]

'True Reflections'

Longing. While, obviously, not recorded for the sake of an album, "True Reflections", which was released just after his own releasing, was the very first album of Jah Cure's career which would he experience as a free man - after eight years imprisoned. It was also an extremely high-profile set and, despite his later more mainstream efforts, is probably his most well known album to date. That certainly has a lot to do with its timing which was near THE existing heights of his popularity - but regardless of time, "True Reflections" was still a very important album. It was a two-headed monster which greatly fueled the strength here as two of the finest songs anyone has ever heard, the title track and the all conquering Don Corleon produced 'Longing For' appeared, but they were not alone. Corleon would also lend his Seasons Riddim to 'Love Is' and Arif Cooper would do the same with his sterling Guardian Angel for 'To Your Arms of Love'. And there were also fine tunes such as 'Conga Man', 'Dem Nah Build Great Man', 'What Will It Take', 'Searching For A Girl', 'Jamaica' and more. Fantan Mojah and Gentleman guested. 
"The Universal Cure" [SoBe Entertainment - 2009]


Thinking ahead. Following three consecutive albums for VP Records, Jah Cure would come to align himself with SoBe Entertainment, a very 'open' label which obviously had plans of taking the Reggae star to the proverbial 'next level' and globalizing his name (in retrospect, I think they did a pretty good job). The first of two more official steps of that was the 2009 releasing of Jah Cure's fifth album, the very popular "The Universal Cure". Looking back, this album was very interesting for several reasons. Not the least of which was the fact that despite it being a set clearly aimed at a more mainstream audience, with a few exceptions "The Universal Cure" wasn't a huge musical step outside of what was to be heard on the first four albums on this list (that would come next). And, although I cannot say that I enjoy it as much today as I once did, you have to give credit where it is due and, at least in 2009, SoBe Entertainment did what a lot of people have been trying to do for a long time in making and marketing a Reggae album to traditionally non-Reggae fans. And the album was a good one. While these days, I'm focused almost exclusively on three songs (which don't include the obvious 'True Reflections', because we've just dealt with that), 'Sticky', 'Soon Come' and 'My Life', also present were nice pieces such as 'Freedom' (which I should probably include in the previous lot because it was excellent), the remade 'Burning & Looting', 'Sufferation', 'Journey' and 'Call On Me' (whose remix, alongside Soca star Alison Hinds was substantially better). Hip-Hopper Flo-Rida, Junior Reid, Mavado and Phyllisia all appeared on the last REALLY good album from Jah Cure.
"World Cry" [SoBe Entertainment - 2012]

'That Girl'

Step outside. And finally - I never thought it horrible, and I still do not, but I am not a fan of Jah Cure's most recent piece, "World Cry", again for SoBe Entertainment. That likely has a great deal to do with it turning out to be one of the most popular frustratingly delayed albums in recent times. The album was released maybe a year and a half following its earliest projections and the [promotional vehicle for it really ran strong for maybe half of that time. So you spend quite a few months saying an album like this is 'coming soon' and you continue to release music from it and do other things to keep it in the mind of fans and it only appears, crawling, more than a year later - you run the risk of spoiling it - and unfortunately, it was spoiled for me in some respects. On top of that, "World Cry" was the "huge musical step outside of what was to be heard on the first four albums on this list". Musically speaking it was very diverse and while its most immediate predecessor would have such moments, as I said, it was a largely Reggae-fied project. This album was not. Though not without actual merit, not even close, and still quite popular, "World Cry" is my least favourite album on this list which, for the most part, is probably even stronger than I would have given it credit for being before this look back (which is almost always the case when we do these things). 

{Note: Previously a digital-only release, "World Cry" reaches stores on CD next month}

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