"True Stories of Mark Wonder & Friends" [IrieVibrations - 2011]
I've been listening to a great deal of Mark Wonder's music, in general , but I've definitely been paying most attention to the album before his most recent set (new album, "Working Wonders", in stores now), "True Stories of Mark Wonder & Friends". Originally released back in 2009, digitally and by its producer, Al.Ta.Fa.An (more on them in a minute), the album was subsequently (and thankfully) picked up by the mighty IrieVibrations and then redone a less than a couple of years later. It definitely gave it a new life and one could now argue, in retrospect, that the album which was once seemingly destined to be forgotten has now become the amazing Wonder's most well known album to date. That isn't a bad thing at all when you consider just what was going on here. As its title would suggest, the album featured MANY different vocalists alongside Mark Wonder, including some of the biggest the entire genre has to offer such as Luciano, Gentleman, Sizzla Kalonji, Capleton, Anthony B, Chezidek, Lutan Fyah, I Wayne, Ziggi Recado and others. It really is an album which is difficult to not listen to for a long period of time and was a 'wonderful' nice choice after his latest release (have I mentioned that "Working Wonder" via Oneness Records is currently available??? I think I may've, but I'm not fully sure now).
CD + Digital
"Roots Rocking Reggae" [Digital Link International - 2009]
Speaking of Al.Ta.Fa.An (they're about to do a Junior Kelly album - "Piece of The Pie", coming soon) they were the masterminds behind this excellent, but short-lived series from a few years back through Tad's Records [Digital Link International], "Roots Rocking Reggae. Although it only stuck around long enough to make a pair of deliveries, in my opinion, "RRR" is one of the best compilations that the compilation-happy Tad's has ever done. The first, in fact, maybe one of the best of its kind from since the turn of the century. Vol. 1 is highlighted by big combinations linking Junior Kelly with Queen Ifrica and Smiley (in two different songs), Anthony B alongside the venerable Bob Andy, Gentleman with Ziggi Recado and then with Mark Wonder & Sizzla Kalonji and Vaughn Benjamin & Lutan Fyah. Taffari and Jah Mason also turned in fine solo efforts as well.
"Dem A Wonder" by Smiley & Junior Kelly
For its part, although not as wholly impressive as the first, "RRRV2" was damn impressive as well, featuring big moments from Luciano (more on him in a minute too), Tanya Stephens, Kelly and more big combinations as well, including 'Black King' by Lutan Fyah and the Mason. There was really so much to enjoy here between the two and as both are still quite easy to find, definitely give them a look and a listen as they were PERFECT for the digital side.
"Tell It From The Heart" by Luciano [Minor 7 Flat 5 - 2003]
Al.Ta.Fa.An also played a very large role in something else which I've been listening to lately, "Tell It From The Heart" by Luciano which is nearing a decade old now. I haven't just been on a tear listening to Al.Ta.Fa.An albums (although, as you can see, that wouldn't be a bad thing at all), and I got here for a different reason. Yes, the thought to do a Discography post for Luciano has been growing on me and while I still have yet to figure out if we're going to write it or not, just taking an early look back has been well entertaining. This particular album was in the line of pieces from Minor 7 Flat 5, produced by Brotherman and while it was neither the best album of Luciano's powerful career, nor of M7F5's great run, it was still a very nice album and having not heard it in quite some time, it becomes even more so to my ears these days. Songs such as 'Ends of Never', 'Another Moses', 'Only Jah Knows' and DEFINITELY 'Ethiopia' were stars as were a few others. Taffari, Lutan Fyah and Turbulence guested (all three of them also had albums for the label) and while I don't know if we will do the Discography feature on Luciano (though it does seem like a good idea, although pretty difficult), you can likely expect a few 'vault reviews' going in his direction any day now.
CD + Digital
"Helta Skelta" by Mad Cobra [DJR Records - 2009]
Unsurprisingly, after getting back into the ultra-violent world of Mad Cobra in the form of "Snypa Way", I've well turned my attentions back to its successor, the equally murderous "Helta Skelta". For what it was, "Helta Skelta" was a modern classic of a Dancehall album and is just waiting to be written at this point. Grimey, gritty and often ghoulish, the album was GENIUS and, again, and action/adventure movie on a CD.
CD + Digital
"Dredlocks Time" by Army [382Music - 2013]
And finally I thought that I'd re-mention a piece I've now gotten on. Bredz (biggup Bredz) sent me the latest from shining VI veteran, Army, "Dredlocks Time" and it is BIG (and you can also get it now, it's selling on CDBaby, with a further release date of Saturday). Is it his best work yet? I'll tell you shortly - you can expect a full review of this album (not much) later this week.
CD + Digital