Saturday, November 8, 2014

What I'm Listening To: November

"Back To Africa" by Harry Mo [Yellow Hill Music - 2008]

Definitely first up this week is one of a couple of albums which I've well gone back to take another listen to following the most recent release from the delightful Achis Reggae favourite, Harry Mo, "Roots & Lovers" (in stores now). One of those was his third piece, "On My Way", but just ahead of that was a bona fide classic around here and THE record which made a fan out of me, "Back To Africa". I had not heard it in awhile and such an album is always nice to dig up and go through and, immediately when I heard it again, one thing went through my mind: 

"I feel a breeze!
Cause I've got Jah - in my life"

That song, 'Jah In My Life' was placed alongside a whole heap of other terrific efforts such as the title track, 'Raging Storm’ [BOOM!], 'Mystic Man', 'Ithiopia' [BOOM AGAIN!] [WHAT!], 'St. Croix Rock', 'My Pride'… really I could mention every tune on the album. "Back To Africa" was golden and one of the best albums I've ever heard and six years have done absolutely nothing but highlighted this fact. Mandatory. 

CD + Digital
"Ten Strings" by Tuff Lion [I Grade Records - 2008]

The second (with another to come) modern classic which has also recently popped back up on my radars, largely due to the same album, I've wonderfully been back on the "Ten Strings" set which was and remains the opus of the most incomparable Tuff Lion, via I Grade Records. Every time I hear this album one major thing that goes through my mind is that how it is now more than six years old and both the Lion and IGR have continued to make amazing music since… wouldn't it be SO nice to have sequel to this one. I do love when Tuff Lion sings but his guitar is one of the strongest Reggae music has ever seen and IGR, particularly alongside The Zion I Kings these days have continued to turn out amazing tracks which I'd love to hear him take on. They did give us a SWEET taste of it just last year with the Songbird Riddim and more would be a lovely thing. Until then, however, there is "Ten Strings" to enjoy and enjoy and enjoy. These days it is a trio of selections which have grabbed most of my attention. 'Love Is All' is one I will always love because I always hear it and begin to sing NiyoRah's song on the same riddim in my head. And there's also 'Fly Away' - TEARS! TEARS! TEARS! And 'Coming Home' which does all types of things to my emotions and I love them all. "Ten Strings" was fully divine from beginning to end and, again, a true classic. 

CD + Digital
"Journey To Jah" by Gentleman [Four Music Productions - 2002]

And speaking of true classics - it was another one, "Confidence", along with a new live set (which I should really think about reviewing), which has drawn me back in the direction of another landmark set, "Journey To Jah" from German Reggae supernova, Gentleman. This album was in a class of its own and has definitely gone on to become one of the most crucial European Reggae sets in… forever! An album which has continued to grow through the years (and I talk so much about forgotten albums, this would be the exact opposite of one of those), "Journey To Jah" remains one of the most popular from the downright inescapable Gentleman and with great reason: It was fantastic! Songs like 'Dem Gone', 'Leave Us Alone' ["everything we build up, dem waan trample down"], 'See Dem Coming' 'Jah Ina Yuh Life' and, of course, 'Runaway' still stand out brightly as does the fact that the album featured contributions from the likes of Capleton, Bounty Killer, Junior Kelly, Luciano & Mikey General and Morgan Heritage - just to name a few. DAMN! 

CD + Digital
"Jah" by Iwan [Gideon Music - 2014]

I'm also definitely paying a whole heap of attention to the recently released third album from Ghanaian veteran, Iwan, the simply titled "Jah". Iwan is someone who has certainly done some big, big works in the past and although I admit that I haven't given the biggest notice to his work, "Jah", as a project, is the finest material that I've heard from him to date. And, obviously, it's a piece I'm still working on. There're some really heavy songs on "Jah" and I've paid particularly close attention to tracks such as 'Rastafari Rising', the stirring 'Gideon Boot', 'Food Is Medicine' (which rides a cut of the old Liberation Riddim (which you know as having backed Capleton's classic 'Jah Jah City'), 'Face of Jah', 'Chant A Psalm' and others. It's really turning out to be a very solid project and one you should definitely have a listen to if you favour modern Roots Reggae music… and you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't, so pick it up. 

CD + Digital
"Zion Awake" by Luciano [JamStyle Records - 2014]

Finally is yet another new album this year from the legendary 'Messenjah', Luciano (three albums for Iwan altogether, three in about half a year for Luciano) who has quietly had a pretty good 2014. His latest release, "Zion Awake" is kind of a 'blast from the past' as, at least as far as I can tell, it is a compilation of older tunes, some of which may even date back to the nineties. The set is put  together by JamStyle Records and who is the executive producer??? Homer Harris. While this may not be Luciano's best album (it isn't), it's still a pretty nice piece and it's of an age where you can hear like subtle differences in certain sounds (including Luciano's voice at times) which, curiously, kind of gives it a very fresh type of vibes and you know that Luciano at 75% is considerably better than most of his peers at 100%. A very decent album and an interesting listen. Check it out today.

CD + Digital

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