Monday, December 24, 2012

What (else) I'm Listening To: December

"Power Link" by The Amandla Band [Amandla Productions - 2012]

"Power Link" preview

First up on my radars today is a very interesting release full of extremely familiar names and faces here as the fittingly titled "Power Link", to my knowledge, is the first release of tunes by the very active Amandla Band collective. WHO? The group includes Achis Reggae favourites Toussaint The Liberator, Ras Iba ["He has found Jah!"] as well as the incomparable genius that is Tuff Lion and Burnie T and Yahkali also.. The piece is a six track EP style record which showcases each of the band's members on lead vocals for one track and it also includes a gorgeous instrumental track (I did say that Tuff Lion was in the group and definitely check out his own new release, "I Want The World To Know [The Love Of Jah]"). Of course, the reviewer in me wishes so badly that this was a full album, but anytime I can get new music from these artists, in any way, you know I'm going to be interested and while the line is certainly crowdy (biggup Merciless), "Power Link" is one of the best EP's that the genre has produced this year. This is excellent.

CD + Digital
The Saucey Head Riddim [Yellow Moon Records - 2012]

Despite its title, the Saucey Head Riddim from Yellow Moon has absolutely nothing to do with one spicy intoxican, Ms. Belfon (biggup Saucy), but the track from earlier this year is well difficult to run away from on its own merits and, just as a riddim, is EASILY one of the finest the Dancehall has produced in 2012. What brought me back here --what facilitated my return-- was 'The Return', one explosive piece of tune by Capleton, which was all kinds of fiery. Busy Signal, Anthony B, Bling Dawg [WHAT!], Lady Saw, Merciless and ESPECIALLY Kiprich also shone on a riddim which didn't have the finest songs but, again, strictly musically and as a composition, the KNOCKING [!] Saucey Head Riddim had very little in the way of peers in class this year. 

The Sufferah Riddim [Tiger Records - 2010]

In 2010 the single finest song that I heard was one by the name of 'Cross Me Heart' by Junior X (who could make me very happy by doing a new album next year) (check out his excellent release from last year, "Plead My Cause", if you haven't already) ["Babylon I wish there was a pill that I could take, to make you go away just like a headache. You're a pain in my life, I can't take you. Someway, somehow, we're gonna break you"] which was produced by Achis Reggae favourite, Sherkhan and company at Tiger Records… just like the HEAVY Sufferah Riddim which has made its way back on my players. This sublime track featured vocal excellence from the likes of Lutan Fyah, Norris Man, Perfect Giddimani, Jah Mason (more on him in a second), Diana Rutherford and others and while I'm almost sure that I didn't appreciate it as much in its day than I do these day, whenever you jumped on, the Sufferah was a beautiful track. 

"Love Govern Us All" by Qshan Deya [Diamond Rush Productions - 2012]

Definitely enjoying the opportunity to go back and listen to all of the wonderful albums from 2012 in attempting to see how they might rank with one another on an… Album Of The Year type of list. One of those which has well taken up (wonderfully) a great deal of my listening time has been the OUTSTANDING sophomore set from the extremely talented Qshan Deya, "Love Govern Us All". Looking back now and being able to actually say such a thing, this album went SO underappreciated and overlooked by SO many fans which is terrible. Give it a healthy listen if you've yet to. Deya is an excellent and there is some of the best material from anyone this year within these twelve tracks. Lady G, Half Pint and Tony Rebel all joined in as well. 

"B Caribbean" [B Caribbean - 2012]

'Chaque Jour' by Goldee

I haven't at all been paying the slightest bit of attention to Zouk music in 2012 (aside from the latest album from the sweet divinity that is Lindsey Lin's. "Dé Not Kréyol” in stores now, pick it up), but a compilation from my absolute favourite Zouk label, featuring some of my absolute favourite singers has changed that for the moment. "B Caribbean" is a… compilation from the great label of the same name, headed by the masterful Joel Jaccoulet. Of course two names here standout brightest to my eyes, and that is Stevy Mahy and Goldee (any day with the new album Goldee) (she does have a new tune on this album) who, by my (almost surely incorrect) count have nine of the album's twenty-one tracks between them (yes, 'Beautiful' and the musical candy that was 'Chaque Jour' are on this album). Also on the set is Kennenga who is very talented, as well as Victor O (including a tune with Stevy Mahy) and OMS. Call it a runaway as the best Zouk[ish] compilation of 2012 and call it the next album you pick up because "B Caribbean", label and now album, are top notch. Also a very nice album for new/casual fans of the genre. 

CD + Digital
The Bad Mind Riddim [Positive Stars Records - 2012]

And lastly, biggup Bredz (big him up firstly, lastly and everywhere in between, every time) who sent me the most obscure, yet one of the most BEAUTIFUL riddims which I'd essentially forgotten, but made itself familiar in a such powerful way. The Bad Mind Riddim via Positive Stars may be nearing a decade old or so now (if it isn't already) and features such big names as Luciano, Chuck Fenda, Natural Black (…) and Abijah. HOWEVER [!], your primary interest in this track, like mine should come centered around a single tune, 'Even When the Wind Blows I Can Feel Jah' (yes, that title is entirely too long) - the MASSIVE, MAMMOTH (grrrr!) shot from Jah Mason.


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