Wednesday, September 29, 2010

King Django Quintet - Brooklyn Hangover

A bit of a strange album this as it is a live recording but as nearly all crowd reaction is removed from mix and it is not until the end of fourth song, the R&B mover ‘Hey Bartender’, when Django shares a bit of banter with the crowd and introduces the next number, the optimistic ‘Take Your Chances’, that you actually realise there are people there! Still a live set it is and was recorded at Southpaw, Brooklyn, USA in 2007 and features King Django, obviously, on lead vocals, ukulele, harmonica, melodica and trombone backed up by Justin Rothberg on guitar, Jess DeBellis on keyboards, Ira Heaps on bass guitar and Gregg Mervine on drums. The vibe that these boys create is uplifting and easy going, as they go through stripped down, raw versions of some of Django’s tunes from his many years in the music business with various guises like those of Stubborn All-Stars, Skinnerbox and Roots & Culture, the later being a body of work I’m not too familiar with, though having now heard the excellent ‘A Single Thread’ this is something I will be looking to remedy.
Generally when I think of King Django I always tend to associate him with ska, but what I liked most about this album is it reminded me how well Django spreads himself across varying styles of reggae from dancehall on ‘Fistful a Riddim’ and closer ‘LKO’, taken from the ‘Roots Tonic’ album and 2000’s multi-genre mixing ‘Reason’ respectively, to the mighty bass led, rootsy ‘Precipice’, also from ‘Reason’ to what is one of my favourite Django tunes of all time the rocksteady skank of ‘Tired of Struggling’ that rides on Bob’s ‘Keep Moving’.
I was fortunate enough to catch King Django quite a few years ago at the Underworld in Camden, London and this album has served also as a reminder of what a great performer he is as well. So until I get the chance to catch him live again I’ll just have to make do with this for although the production and sound quality is so good for a live album you think it was recorded in a studio, there is still just enough live feeling left to make you feel like your having your own personal show from the man himself. In a word excellent!
Download Here
Stubborn Records CD Here

Track Listing
01 Does He Love You
02 Rise to Find You
03 Tired of Struggling
04 Hey, Bartender
05 Take Your Chances
06 As Tears Go By
07 Crop No Drop
08 Avenue A
09 Move Like Ya Gone
10 A Single Thread
11 Not Like a Star
12 Precipice
13 Trying to Be Something
14 Fistful a Riddim
15 Nex Finga
16 Jump Dung
17 Reason
18 LKO

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Digikal Roots new EP 'Dub Master' released by UKRG

Digikal Roots new EP ‘Dub Master’

UKRG (United Kingdom Reggae Guide) recently joined the underground label arena and they present this first official release on their UKRG label an EP entitled ‘Dub Master’ from uprising dub artist Digikal Roots. DR has released 2 free albums during the past year or so ‘Let There Be Version’ and ‘Echo Dust’ to high acclaim, reviews and radio play outa national style indeed ‘Let There Be Version’ was spun in the SpringlineJamaica office every day for a week during it’s initial pre release with cry’s of ‘this could be an old Randy’s record’ from yours truly who after a whole week of saturation hoggin the mp3 radiogram was permanently banned by SJ exec producer iTal sKarl from going anywhere near it again!
DR’s 4 track EP features “Bud Rot Dub” straight away one feels a full on Stranglers meets The Clash studio jam produced by Mikey Dread sounding vibe, a rolling pounding skanker featuring DR’s trademark ultra clean guitar work and delay tactics, a raw energetic tune complete with a warm Hammond style organ inna pop a top mode.
“Wise Dub”; Now this is what I like about Digikal Roots music, wonderful use of horns against some really cool dub composition work, the bass line on this track is as powerful as it can go, the riddim track has a density irresistible to the headphones with some DR trademark reverb clarity on the mix, again a full on dub attack with impact label version sides coming to mind. “Obeah Step Dub” a steppers delight, one for the soundsystems and deejays a killer not a filler featuring ultra space echo style mixing effects with the riddim coming in and out of the mix and as always with DR’s trusty guitar skank a chanks. “Babylon Nah Hold I” featuring a top ranking riddim stomper drum track and heavy layering of the horns in warmth contrast to the ‘diginess’ of this tune’s overall sound, here’s an artist who composes music the traditional way ,who takes time to experryment with clean high end mixing quality ,fusing true digi dub with –and as his name implies- Roots sentiments adding a certain warmth and clarity from time that is so often rare to hear with today’s dub offerings. Music for Soundsystems, music for deejays & singers, music to just simply listen to.
Welcome to the arena Digikal Roots. (Gibsy 2010)
‘Dub Master’ EP is available to download at major and minor online stores.
Label : UKRG
Digikal Roots official site :
*Look out for a future official album release from Digikal Roots on UKRG*

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bobby Pins & The Saloon Soldiers

I’ve been listening to a lot of albums from new bands who have been inspired by that rocksteady, early reggae vibe of the late ‘60s early ‘70s on labels like Trojan and Pama. I’ll admit that none of these bands appear to want to re-invent or modernise that sound, but are just embracing it with open arms in their desire to recreate that sound. To some this means it may sound a bit old hat, but if you love that type of thing then I think you’ll really like this and want to add it to your collection. It was released and highlighted on here earlier this year and at last I have got my hands on a copy.
Bobby Pins & The Saloon Soldiers are a 9 piece from Dresden, Germany, fronted by three sassy looking, and soulful sounding female vocalists Luise, Dorit & Lotti. The music behind them is a grinding organ driven groove that’s sweet for ya feet. The album kicks off with a big boss reggae, spaghetti western inspired instrumental ‘Dual By Dawn’, that is all deft guitar and plaintive trumpet a top that organ driving beat. This is then followed by ‘Dancing On The Moon’, which sees a change of tact to more dulcet tones and introduces us to the soulful harmonies of female vocalists on this gentle sway of a tune. Rocksteady and boss reggae is then very much the order of the day with the lyrics mainly concerning love and its difficult path.
‘Streets Of Soul’ bring in a bit of motor city stomppin’ soul mixed with the reggae, while ‘Sunday’ is more straight laced heart-rending soul, with melancholy vocals backed by the raw, searing organ and moving trumpet.
Closing out the album are three instrumental versions of previous tunes. The first one ‘Reaching For The Sky’ (Dancing On The Moon) features some efficient Ernest Ranglin jazzy styled guitar. ‘For A Good Reason’ (No Reason) sees brass replace the vocal and ‘Poise & Organ’ (Poise & Fame) completes the album kind of back how we started with an organ pulsing workout.
In all 14 tracks of great old fashioned boss reggae, with some sweet soul on the side.
01 - Dual By Dawn
02 - Dancing On The Moon
03 - Streets Of Soul
04 - Hobo In The Grass
05 - No Reason
06 - The Revenge
07 - My Best Boy
08 – Sunday
09 - Place In The
10 - Poise & Fame
11 - Silent River
12 - Reaching For The Sky
13 - For A Good Reason
14 - Poise & Organ

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lee Scratch Perry New Album - “Revelation”

A legend that needs no introduction, his musical story has been followed and read by millions worldwide, his reputation as being the inventor and instigator of dub experrymentation and innovation has grown to heights that no other Jamaican producer has come close to achieving, his music especially between the years of 1969 through to 1979 is revered, collected, studied and emulated by thousands of musical followers around the globe, today he continues to play concerts to sell out fans in clubs and venues backed by various session musicians who’s line up depends on his current project. Always in demand to voice and appear on recordings and courted by various record labels and film crews Lee Perry has without a doubt superseded all that we thought was the limit. His latest album ‘Revelation’ features 13 tracks of varied reggae and dub genre cuts with a real laid back late night listening vibe.
No mistaking his vocal style and delivering his ‘scratchisms’ in fine style this is a very enjoyable listening album, the production quality and musicianship of ultra high standards will no doubt see this album gaining top reviews and new fans for Mr Perry.
Track 1 “Revelation Revolution Evolution” sets the albums laid back vibe off in fine chilled style whilst track 4 “Holy Angels” could be a Studio 1 cut of the 2010’s with its catchy and addictive hook line, with scratch praising the singers and players of the instruments.
Track 7 “Books Of Moses” has soul running through it’s veins and at the same time with low in the mix organ and guitars harking back respectfully to those classic late sixties Upsetter instrumentals with Scratch being, well, Ultra Scratch! Indeed throughout the whole album Scratch references past song titles.

I have found during the past 10 years that many people who have reviewed Lee Perry releases post ark tend to concentrate on his bafflin’ nonsense lyrics, it’s true that sometimes he does tend to go off down strange avenues that only he understands yet at the same time he does make a lot of sense in what he’s stating he’s just stating it Scratch style, the message is there if one takes the time to listen and re-listen. An allegory of music and each time one listens there’s an alternative meaning, perhaps….. An interesting album, not every tune will have you exclaiming wonderment there are a couple of fillers it has to be said, but on the whole very enjoyable and the album signs off with the crucial “An Eye For An Eye”. Lee Scratch Perry, wise observer and commentator of situations, It’s not ark music, it’s not late sixties Upsetter yet there are elements of old peppering the tracks more so on some of the intro’s, take a listen to the album.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Next year will see the return of The London Intl Ska Fest. Sean Flowerdew (Pama intl) promoted the first one back in 1988 at The Brixton Fridge and he is currently programming a world class line up of over 30 international bands and DJs, including Jamaican originators, 2 Tone legends, 21st century ska sounds and household name & top scene DJs. Headline acts will be announced over the coming weeks, contracts are signed. There should be some sensational names lined up and some world exclusives. To wet your appetite's, amongst the first acts that we have been confirmed are 3 bands that appeared on the first ever London Intl Ska Festival...

THE LOAFERS - who will be reforming for an exclusive one-off performance with all 6 members, including Finny & Sean from Pama Intl + Nas & Trev from Big Boss Man/Bongolian
BIM SKALA BIM - US ska pioneers will be performing exclusively at the festival, for what is their first UK show in over a decade.
NAPOLEAN SOLO - The Danish soul/ska sensation will be playing their first show in the UK in over 20 years!!!

In addition to this trip down memory line 2 true stalwarts of the UK ska scene are confirmed;
INTENSIFIED - arguably the UK's finest traditional ska band, will be celebrating their 21st anniversary.
MAROON TOWN - with their unique blend of ska/funk/rap/latin

And two new bands on the current ska scene;
THE AMPHETAMEANIES - Glasgow’s finest sons and daughters, who will be promoting a brand new album.
THE SIDEWALK DOCTORS - London's new kings of rocksteady cool who also have a new album out soon.

More bands tba very soon. Plans are underway to film and record all 4 days of this historical event.

To be the first to hear about line up additions and get a discounted ticket offer, join the LISF mailing list by emailing and why not join The London Intl Ska Festival facebook page

Hurry though as tickets are already going fast.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ammoye and Rise Ashen – Haffi Win

Haffi Win is the first joint full length venture from Ammoye and Rise Ashen’s and is due to be released on 17th September on Balanced Records.
Producer, musician, DJ and dancer Eric Vani (Rise Ashen) supplies the album with a mix of very infectious urban bass throbbing beats and hypnotic melodies from a mix of dancehall and dub reggae infused with hip hop and house, that creep into your psyche, while Ammoye, born and raised in Clarendon JA before moving to Canada, effortlessly enchants listeners with her smooth and easy soulful style.
The lyrical content of these songs are full of consciousness that tells stories of our choices on love, life, justice and how the choices we make can shape us as we either surrender to the challenges they bring or we fight through for what we want and believe to be right.
Standout tracks for me are pulsing title track ‘Haffi Win’, tribalish and trance like ‘Till The Soil And Beat The Drum’, the graceful ‘Bluebirds’ and the extremely clubby ‘Your Love’.
This is an album that most probably won’t appeal to hardened reggae fans, but will appeal hugely to a crossover audience who’ll like it’s very modern and at times R&B feel.
A fine album that will have you grooving, chilling and thinking with equal measure.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mad Professor

Starting as a disciple of Lee "Scratch" Perry, Mad Professor grew into becoming one of the leading producers in dub reggae's second generation. His "Dub Me Crazy" albums helped dubs make the transition into the digital age, when electronic productions started to take over mainstream reggae in the '80s. His space-age tracks not only made use of new digital technology, but often expanded dub's sonic blueprint, adding more elements and layers of sound than his forebears typically did. In the mid-'90s, he returned to the basics with a more retro-sounding style on the "Black Liberation Dub" series. Additionally, he ran his own studio and label, Ariwa, which was home to a stable of vocalists (with an emphasis on lover's rock and conscious roots reggae) and some of the finest British reggae productions of the era. As his reputation grew, he became a remixer of choice for adventurous rock and techno acts, most notably revamping Massive Attack's entire second album under the new title No Protection.

Mad Professor was born Neal Fraser in 1955 in Guyana, a small country in the northern part of South America. He earned his nickname as a preteen, thanks to his intense interest in electronics; he even built his own radio. At age 13, his family moved to London, and around age 20, he started collecting recording equipment: reel-to-reel tape decks, echo and reverb effects, and the like. In 1979, he built his own mixing board and opened a four-track studio in his living room in the south London area of Thornton Heath. Calling it Ariwa, after a Nigerian word for sound or communication, he began recording bands and vocalists for his own label of the same name, mostly in the lovers rock vein: Deborahe Glasgow, Aquizim, Sergeant Pepper, Tony Benjamin, Davina Stone, and Ranking Ann, among others.
With continuous complaints from his neighbours, he decided to move to a proper studio facility in Peckham, South London. In 1982 he recorded his first album, "Dub Me Crazy, Pt. 1", and quickly followed it with a second volume, the successful "Beyond the Realms of Dub". 1983 brought two more volumes, "The African Connection" (often acclaimed as one of his best) and the fairly popular "Escape to the Asylum of Dub".

The Ariwa studio was moved to a better neighbourhood in West Norwood during the mid-'80s, and upgraded for 24-track capability, making it the largest black-owned studio in the U.K. From there, Mad Professor really started to make an impact on the British reggae scene. He produced major hit singles for Ariwa mainstay Pato Banton and Sandra Cross, and also helmed the breakthrough album for conscious reggae toaster Macka B, 1986's "Sign of the Times". At the same time, the ragga era was dawning, and all-digital productions began to take over reggae. As the ragga sound grew more and more dominant, Mad Professor's brand of dub got more spacey and weirder; while ragga detractors complained that Mad Professor's work sounded sterile compared to the dub of old, many praised his otherworldly effects and inventive arrangements. The "Dub Me Crazy" albums reached the height of their experimentalism during the latter part of the '80s, although by the early '90s they were showing signs of creative burnout. The 12th and final volume in the series, "Dub Maniacs on the Rampage", was released in 1993.

Meanwhile, Ariwa continued to prosper as a label, with further hits by the likes of Macka B, Pato Banton, Sandra Cross, female singer Kofi, Intense, Jah Shaka, John McLean, the Robotics, Sister Audrey, Peter Culture, Johnny Clark, and others. Additionally, he began to collaborate with some of reggae's better-known figures; most crucially, he teamed up with main influence Lee "Scratch" Perry for the first time on the 1989 set "Mystic Warrior". In 1991, he produced the first of several albums for the groundbreaking veteran DJ U-Roy, the acclaimed "True Born African"; he also went on to work with the likes of Yabby You and Bob Andy. He switched his focus to touring in 1992 and released the 100th album on Ariwa not long after.

With his high-profile collaborators, Mad Professor started to make a name for himself outside of the reggae community, and soon found himself in demand as a remixer for rock, R&B, and electronic acts. Over the course of the '90s and into the new millennium, he would remix tracks by Sade, the Orb, the KLF, the Beastie Boys, Jamiroquai, Rancid, Depeche Mode, and Perry Farrell, among others. His best-known project, however, and the one that truly established his credentials, was 1995's "No Protection", a completely re-imagined version of trip-hop collective Massive Attack's second album, Protection. Perhaps creatively refreshed, Mad Professor's own albums started to regain their consistency in the mid-'90s. Mixing electronics with rootsier, more organic sounds indebted to the earliest days of dub, he left behind the Dub Me Crazy moniker to launch a new series, the subtly Afrocentric "Black Liberation Dub". The first volume was released in 1994, and others followed steadily into the new millennium, albeit at a less prolific pace than the Dub Me Crazy instalments. More collaboration with Perry and U-Roy followed as well. In 2005, Mad Professor celebrated Ariwa's 25th anniversary with a tour of the U.K. alongside Perry and the double CD retrospective "Method to the Madness".
The next couple of years were fairly quiet then in 2008 he re-emerged with the release of “Bitter Sweet Dub” part of the Dub You Crazy With Love series and “The Dubs That Time Forgot” an album that saw him dig deep into his dub vaults to deliver a set of vintage early eighties dubs from his Dub Me Crazy Days. Last year he released a 'live' album with minimal computerized trickery “Audio Illusions of Dub” that gave us new versions of classic vintage tracks including Dennis Brown’s “Slave Driver” and “In His Own Way”, Lee Perry’s “Chase The Devil” and “Fever”, Black Uhuru’s “Satan Army Band” and Norris Reid’s Pablo epic “Entrance To Jah’s World”. This production was done with the aid of his son Joe Ariwa. There was also collaboration with Argentinean based Latin dub band Nairobi on “Nairobi Meets Mad Professor– Wu Wei” that also included appearances from Lee Perry and Sly & Robbie among others plus an album entitled “Revolution Feat. Pato Banton And Mr. Professor” though I have no details on that one.
So with Mad Professor now getting back into the swing of things he will soon be out on the road mixing Pama Int’l live in an unrivalled sonic assault of dub as he helps to promote their joint venture “Pama Int’l Meets Mad Professor-Rewired! In Dub”, which will be out on October 10th on Rockers Revolt.

Much respect to Steve Huey, All Music Guide

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Revelation Congo The Manor (Reviewed by Angus Taylor)

Originally published by United Reggae Magazine.
Reggae is often characterised, particularly by European enthusiasts, as a music of feeling over technique. Yet, even if we ignore the perennial tired stereotypes of African-rooted music as inherently visceral, this generalisation is demonstrably shaky. After all, both jazz and blues, which are perceived to be more "technical" disciplines, were replicated fairly easily by foreign acolytes, even if certain aspects were emphasised egregiously in keeping with said stereotypes. Reggae rhythms, by contrast, were rarely rendered or produced with any competence by foreigners until the last two decades or so.
'Revelation Congo', the second long format release on Springline Records by Londoner the Manor is a good example of such meticulous competence. It is quite openly and unashamedly influenced by the works of past masters, mainly Lee Scratch Perry, although Tubbys test-tones, the inexorable, snare driven minimalism of Scientist, and the UK digi-heaviness of Mad Professor also come into play.
Manor describes his guitar playing as informed by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, while the drums and bass are from Perry. The album is also replete with further Scratch-isms: cowbells, archive light entertainment samples and gnomic utterances. Manor’s voice, naturally cleaner than that of partner in his band Rainbow Nation and fellow Springliner Yabass, has been dirtied-up with processing and effects, and phrases everything in a remarkable impersonation of the Upsetter's grainy half-spoken style.
The numerous theological and biblical references are heartfelt, for the Manor is a committed, if unorthodox, believer in God. Reminiscences about “a government yard in Trenchtown” and discussion of the Bobo concept of the trinity in his lyrics may strike listeners as strange coming from a non-Jamaican – yet these topics result from his extensive reading on the subject.
Due to financial considerations, earlier Springline albums were issued without mastering. Thankfully, this release comes with a crisp, professional polish that suits Manor's painstaking production. At times the subtle precision and creativity of some of the drum sounds hark back even to the golden ears of the likes of Tubby and Perry themselves.
If “forward ever and backward never” means a commitment to the latest innovations, then this set may offer you little. But for lovers of reggae and dub the way it used to be, this is a sincere tribute: a nicely crafted window into one man's journey through the music and culture he loves.
(Gus Taylor - Freelance Music Journalist - BBC / United Reggae)

At iTunes & Amazon ,napster ,shockhound and CD at
The Manor - Revelation Congo