Okay so, while we do definitely avoid dealing with news directly here which isn't completely musically related, like a new song or a new album, a development last week which was officially announced this week definitely made me smile as VP Records suddenly continues to do really smart things when it comes to Soca music. Last year the label announced a renewal, officially this time, of their relationship with Soca lyrics king, Bunji Garlin, whose MAMMOTH tune, 'Differentology’ became… one of the biggest Soca songs in history and the inevitable album, which we're anxiously waiting on, will be released later this year. Ahead of that, the 2014 edition of the genre's most popular album, "Soca Gold", will also be released by VP Records and, HOPEFULLY, right behind those will be something I have waited on for a very loooooooong time.
"Differentology" Bunji Garlin
The latest addition to the talent roster of VP Records (which, presumably, still includes Etana and Romain Virgo but, based on their latest releases, I'm wondering if either/both Tarrus Riley and/or I-Octane would still be on the list) is Mrs. Bunji Garlin, The Silver Surfer [WHAT!], the incomparable Fay-Ann Lyons. To my knowledge, Fay-Ann Lyons has never had an album and this is so despite the fact that her husband has had, at last count, nine to his credit and, a couple of years ago when Soca music slowly crept its way onto the digital scene, names like Machel Montano, Destra Garcia, Shurwayne Winchester, Nadia Batson and others began to take advantage of the medium and pour their respective catalogues all over it (strangely enough though, Garlin himself has not done this and GEMS such as the "Black Spaniard" album remain largely lost to the masses) ["GAL YUH IN CHARGE, LIKE A GREAT SARGE. I WANT TO WINE ON YOU, BUT I 'FRAID I GO DISCHARGE! I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, BUT I HAVE TO WATCH YOU, CAUSE I DOH THINK THAT I HAVE ENOUGH SKILL TO CRUSH YOU"] [BOOM!], she was not amongst them. But, in this case, it is definitely better late than never.
|"Soca Gold 2014"|
Lyons is reported to have signed a multi-year and multi-album deal with the label and, given her past output, this is GIANT news. Fay-Ann Lyons has been one of the most consistently SPECTACULAR lights of Soca music and one might even make the case that she's been even more so than her husband. To date, the singer has amassed a ridiculous line of accolades which is pinnacled by three Trinidad Road March titles as well as two and half Soca Monarch crowns (I will always give her half credit for 2008 when her 'Get On' (which won Road March that year) was brutally robbed by Garlin's 'Fiery'… and now that I'm thinking about it - she may have even finished third that year, also behind Iwer George). Her music, at its best, is brilliantly chaotic, wholly unpredictable, happily intoxicating and oozing an unrivaled confidence in a genre which has never exactly been short on collective self-esteemed. And just because it does matter - it certainly does not hurt that she is stunning! Voted "Most Beautiful" by last year by us, Lyons could rather easily donate some sex appeal to a small island and still be very easy on the eyes and though her music has always stood ahead of it, it is fortunate, for the rest of us, that when the cameras start rolling, she either does not try to hide or is simply very, VERY bad at it. The lead here surely was the deal with Garlin but, sans that, it was somewhat surprising given that Lyons hasn't been this constantly appearing figure on VP releases, but I'm happy that it certainly changes now.
Signings of Fay-Ann Lyons and Bunji Garlin hopefully show a renewed commitment by VP Records in pushing Soca music. In recent times (unless I'm really overlooking something) (and I may be), the label's only running contribution to the genre has been in the way of "Soca Gold". Previously, they also ran accompanying series such as "Soca 101" and the wonderful "D'Soca Zone", neither of whom have grown in the past seven years and six years, respectively. But this more than makes up for all of that! [Now if we could just get them to do something with Skinny Fabulous] (And speaking of Skinny Fabulous, definitely one of the nicest moments ever featuring Fay-Ann Lyons on a VP Records project was in 2010 when Skinny Fabulous hilariously attempted to interview her for… nothing in particular, and it appeared on the DVD for "SG2010"). 2014 for Reggae albums has already been amazing and with releases from Sizzla Kalonji, Pressure Busspipe, Perfect Giddimani and Ziggy Marley all set to go just next week [!], it's about to get even better. But one of the biggest pieces of album news this year definitely comes from Soca as one of its greatest champions steps up in a major way. New album from Fay-Ann Lyons on VP Records - coming soon. BOOM!