Friday, June 28, 2013

The Vault Reviews: "World Crisis" by Anthony B & Lutan Fyah

Team up. Though for a young and up and coming artist scoring that first major hit is one of the biggest occurrences in their career, it isn't the only way to reach prominence. In almost every instance, you can choose someone and bring up their first significant hit tune and then, subsequently, trace back their successes (or their failures) in living up to it and providing more output which resonates with fans, but others do things different. There are definitely cases of big named and talented lights who took a far more gradual and winding road to the top of the genre before receiving a mass amount of attention. Here, we look at people such as Jah Mason whose career well took another very large step in 2006 or so when he released his still most widely known tune, 'Princess Gone', at a time when he already had so much material to his credit -- six or seven albums worth -- and was amongst the most active names on the Roots Reggae scene at the time. You would also look at the likes of Natural Black, Turbulence and Norris Man to some extent (although in the case of the third, he definitely did have an early hit in 'Persistence') as artists who either did not have that HUGE big hit at the nascent stage of their career, or went a very long time without having another and were, thus, afforded an opportunity to vastly develop their skills, respectively. Lutan Fyah would, of course, be another. He may, in fact, be the most interesting of the lot because unlike in the case of the Mason with 'Princess Gone', Natural Black with 'Far From Reality' and Turbulence with 'Notorious', there wasn't one dominant tune which propelled him to some level of stardom. He had a few with 'Rasta Still Deh Bout' alongside Josie Mel, there was 'St Jago De La Vega', 'No Peace In Spanish Town' and others, but remarkably he may've had six or seven songs which're similarly remembered in his early/earlier years - without one shot being that mega-sized standout. Also, as we established not too long ago, in regards to the releasing of his most recent album ("Never Surrender My Faith", in stores now), Lutan Fyah was able to voice for a variety of different producers. One was certainly the US based Lustre Kings Productions, from whom he would deliver a classic album in "Time & Place". Presumably, around that same time, he also worked with a lesser known label from out of the same California area as LKP by the name of Higher Ground Sound.

And he wasn't the only one. I only know of two albums that HGS did in their time (more on that in a minute). One - I'm going to tell you about shortly and the other was from 2002, may have actually been the first physical CD album with Lutan Fyah's music on it - a very nice compilation by the name of "Spanish Town". That album would not only feature works from the likes of the aforementioned Turbulence, Jah Mason and Norris Man, but also Spectacular, Luciano, the WICKED Steve Machete, Lutan Fyah and even Anthony B would provide a single tune for the album. It's fascinating the work they did in such a short amount of time and then, basically, it seemed as if they either disappeared completely or just stopped producing music because after that pair of albums the label, apparently ran by one called Disciple, fell off of the proverbial radar (they may have even had some type of relationship with LKP, who gets thanked in the liners).

But that didn't happen until after the following year when Higher Ground Sound would link together the rising Lutan Fyah with the RISEN Anthony B for a ten tracked combination album, "World Crisis". I've actually had this album for years now and though it had been awhile from last I had spun it and it was never the best album that I'd heard, I always did enjoy bits and pieces (BOOM!) of it. But I was still VERY surprised when Bredz told me that the album, now likely pretty difficult to track down on disc, had been re-released in celebration of a ten year anniversary, on the digital side. Of course the nerd in me was wondering why they didn't do the same thing with "Spanish Town" (an album which I also used to own but once let someone 'borrow') (or they just stole it - same thing) last year, but the fact HGS was releasing anything was a sign that, at least in some form, they still existed. Subsequent research revealed (again, biggup Bredz) that Disciple and company may also be back at work on some future projects as well, so we're definitely looking forward to hearing what they may come up with now, following a decade of inactivity. As far as "World Crisis", however, it was a very interesting pairing of an artist in Anthony B, the bigger of the two names at that point (and he still is), alongside a bonafide future star in Lutan Fyah. And, at least on paper, it was a very big deal. If you think about if the news came today, right now, that Anthony B and Lutan Fyah were doing a full album together, there would be a lot of anticipation on the set and You and I would be all over it. A decade ago, though it lacked the lustre it would have now, it was still a very nice idea. For his part, Anthony B was doing very well. Along with 'World Crisis", he would have three or four solo albums in the year, which pinnacled with a sterling effort for VP Records, "Street Knowledge" and there was also the Kemar 'Flava' McGregor produced "Smoke Free". Also, very interestingly, just four years prior to "World Crisis", Anthony B had been on the other end of things when he linked with Capleton for a very nice album called "One Mission" - so he had well experienced the benefits of being present on the 'new Capleton album' as Lutan Fyah would be on his as well. And, like I said, though this isn't the greatest album that I've ever heard, now ten years old and beating it down for the sake of this review proves that it is still quite nice and very useful as well. Let me tell you about it.  
Anthony B
The way that the album is set up is that there're ten tracks in total, with both artist starring on five tunes and both have album book-ending combinations as well. It is, of course, very straight forward (with two of the most uncomplicated artists on board) and just a solid piece of modern Roots Reggae music. Anthony B starts us off on "World Crisis" from Higher Ground Sound with his combination, the title track. You may not be too familiar with the artist who joins him on the tune, he hasn't done much, but you may've heard of him - Lutan Fyah. The two link on a song which is basically a social commentary (what else would it be with a title like that???), but somewhat of a strange one. Though broadly written, the duo suggest that that the solution to many of the ills plaguing society is ganja. It actually comes off as a song which was vibed between the two and though it isn't the flashiest of efforts, by tune's end, it actually works rather well. Next is Anthony B's first solo selection on the album and one which may just be the most popular tune that "World Crisis" produced, the call to action that was 'Warriors'. This is just a FUN and inspiring unifying set which jumps right out at the listener and doesn't falter at all. 

"Come Rasta people - unite
It's time to stand up and fight
Cah man a warriors for life
Warriors! Warriors! For life!
Come Rasta people - unite
It's time to stand up and fight
Cah man a warriors for life
Warriors! Warriors! For life!

Separation with the Rases, Rastaman caah tek it
Nazarene Vow - King Selassie I make it
Rastaman strong, dat mean mi ready fi shake it 
Gimme di cake deh, gimme di cake deh - ready fi bake it
Di journey it long and mi still nah fake it
Fyah bun fi babylon and dem caah escape it
Di youth outta street, Anthony B motivated
Right cross di world mi state it!"

If 'Warriors' isn't the most well known piece on "World Crisis" then that distinction likely falls in the direction of the tune which it precedes on the album, 'Make Me A Criminal'. This piece is one about the trouble people, particularly the youth, face in society which can kind of steer them in the course of living a life of crime. To my opinion, it is quintessential Anthony B -- with these often ultra-detailed styles of observations -- and it is, at worst, his second best song on this album. Anthony B's next tune is also a stellar one, the HYPE repatriation anthem 'Take I Home'. It had been YEARS from the last time that I'd heard this and while not the most lyrical composition you'll ever hear, it's still very impressive and I wish that more people had gotten  to hear a song like this one. Finally, Anthony B gives us what I feel is the single best offering of his quintet on the "World Crisis" album, 'Like This'. Though somewhat Hip-Hoppish, which isn't typically my favourite type of song, 'Like This' is purely intoxicating when it hits it really gets going. 

"Tired of the loneliness
I need a happy life
I'm tired of the darkness
Now I want to see the light
Tired of the loneliness
I need a happy life
I'm tired of the darkness
Now I want to see the light

Right like this
Go a school, bright, but no bright like this
Hey, unite, but unite like this
Ever fight, dem ah fight, man will fight like this
Fight like this 
Full a style like this
Hey caan smile, hey smile like this
Under profile no, profile like this 
Watch mi touch di street inna Selassie like this
Babylon ah fight this"

Anthony B takes us on a dazzling road which maintains its powerful message throughout and really rises to the top of his half of the album. These tunes don't represent the chanter at his absolute best, he's obviously had one of the greatest careers Reggae music has ever seen and saying that something is his best, or amongst his best, is basically saying something is CLASSIC material. You won't find classics here, but you will find some awfully solid and appealing tracks which may've faded, but that is due in no part to their quality. All five songs are at least good. 
For his part, certainly you aren't getting THE best Lutan Fyah on "World Crisis", but you are getting a version of the artist well capable of putting on full display the greatest of his skills - his amazingly brilliant lyrical ability. Also, though I always make the case that the further you go back in the Fyah's catalog, the more probable you are to run into efforts which aren't the most spectacular in terms of melody, within his five offerings on this album, you do get some at least decent melodic gifts as well. His first tune, for example, isn't terrible on that front. Although subtle, 'City Pay' is an entertaining bit. On the other hand this is not a damn thing subtle about the wonderful lyrical exhibition on that song, which is not to be missed. 'It's Good To Know' comes next and is even stronger than the Fyah's opener on almost every front. 

"Its good to know Jah create the earth and gave us life yeah
And the good we show - it'll always be better even between a man and his Wife whoa
Jah gave us the birds and bees, the fishes and the seas, plus human beings
And for the goodness of the world Jah live 
Think positive so - 

Again, go tell it to di devil and di devil-mind friend -
How our Father's Prayer, should be the National Anthem
And a through mi got di knowledge to a high extent
Look how they rob di poor people, tek di likkle from dem
And ah use mi, abuse mi - mek every face bend
And mek a lot of promise and no fulfill dem" 

The song speaks on just how good it is to know and to feel that you live life for His Imperial Majesty and how you ALWAYS have someone in your corner, working for your cause. This is my favourite of all of Lutan Fyah's tunes and I'm glad they brought this album back to attention, because I probably haven't heard it in a long time. 'Olden Days' is a decent track, though not a standout here. I listen to this track and I'm not too fond of the melding of vocals and riddim. The vocals, in general, aren't very impressive and they don't go with the riddim (which is pretty nice) very well. BUT just like Jah Cure with his voice and Perfect Giddimani with his… unpredictability, Lutan Fyah can save a song from just being full on BAD with lyrics and while "bad" might be going too far, 'Olden Days' is made far more interesting by what he says on it. 'Crystal Clear', with its ultimate simplicity definitely sets things back on a high note. This thing is BEAUTIFUL! 

"Mi si it crystal clear -
Di system sell di people inna deep despair
So insecure - so dem go build all dem bombs and nuclear
Dem terrorist warfare - mi ask dem: A who dem ah try scare?!

So they shall travel to and fro
Know not the way to go
Dem seeking a place of rest
I know where I'm from
Mi no careless Ethiopian
I nah go wonder in the wilderness
The poor man suffer, things the rich no know yet
Wi deh pon di battlefield, A DEFEND FOOL'S INTEREST
Di evil man chilling and drinking champagne, playing a game of chess
Dip in di pool wet 
Ghetto youths ah wonder inna di sun and sweat
Jah bless - even more di likkle weh mi get
Di greedy politician a everything him tek -
And waan come gi di ghetto youth what left
So they cried out to Jah in their distress!
And HE came and delivered dem out of their troubles, yes!
So they cried out to Jah in their distress!
And HE came and delivered dem out of their troubles, whoa!"

BOOM! 'City Pay' is damn strong, but I'd probably say that 'Crystal Clear' is Lutan Fyah's second best on "World Crisis". Finally is a tune which I had well forgotten about, 'Rob & Take'. It is the Fyah's combination and it features him alongside veteran singer Anthony John. The two make a formidable musical union on the song aimed at those bringing nastiness (of all kinds) into society. It is a nice way to end things, but that isn't actually what it does. If you get the digital version of "World Crisis", you'll notice it immediately, but if you track down the CD, you'll figure it out. 'Rob & Take' is a track which his nearly twenty minutes in length. The actual song is only about 3:55. More than a minute after it is completed, you get what I guess is a "hidden track". I don't know who made it. It's kind of Bluesy/Rocky… I guess and it may be a live recording. I don't know a damn thing about it, but that's what it is. And that isn't all. You get another hidden song -- still on the same track #10 -- which follows it. I don't know anything about this one either, but for whatever it's worth (not much, I don't know what I'm talking about) (but I rarely ever do), to my opinion the second song is much better than the first.  
Overall, very, very strange ending notwithstanding, for what it is "World Crisis" was okay. It's kind of occupied a place in my collection due, at least partially, to its rarity or my perception of its rarity, but I'm very glad that Higher Ground Sound came back to make it available again. The album might even be better served for the digital form where you can kind of pick and choose what you want, but even if you did manage to grab up the disc, I don't think you'd be disappointed. Anthony B and a then up and coming Lutan Fyah make for a nice pair to combine on an album which was probably lost to history, but now has a turn to shine again. 

Rated: 3.25/5
Higher Ground Sound
CD + Digital 

Review #451

No comments:

Post a Comment