The reggae releases just keep on coming and the quality seems to be getting better and better. With even more great albums promised for the coming months, Louder Than War’s Paul Scott Bates gives us his views on the current crop.
Richie Campbell – In The 876 (Chet Records)
CD / DL
Not even a decidedly dodgy album sleeve can hide that this is a very good album. Portuguese reggae man Richie Campbell (real name Ricardo Ventura da Costa) has assembled a great album of surprisingly good reggae, lover’s rock and dancehall which may appear with some of the best reggae releases of the year.
Already a huge hit in his homeland (the album reached number one in Portugal’s iTunes Chart within two hours of release), the album named after telephone dialing code for Jamaica, is now attracting attention in the UK.
Recorded in both Kingston and Lisbon, the album features such reggae luminaries as Agent Sasco/Assassin, Toian and Sara Tavares and is both easy on the ear and very accomplished. Some nice dub touches here and there add further interest to the album although there are forays into pop or modern R&B with the likes of Rise From We Fall which don’t quite sit with the other tracks, and to be frank are very average.
Stand out tracks I Feel Amazing and Feels Like are uplifting with not only with good reggae beats but also very memorable hooks.
Two years after the release of their album Fils d’Abraham, Zion Dirty Sounds return with a cracking EP containing nine versions of the track Celebrity Fever which originally appeared on the album. The premise is simple, send the track to different artists from around the World and ask them to put their own take on it.
The resulting collection is a quite brilliant mix of dubbed out versions with the faintest hint of a hook that continues throughout. The concept does lend itself to the possibility of boredom, but the end result is quite the opposite as the likes of Jasmin Tutum (Germany) also introduce us to the almost forgotten genre of dub poetry.
Afro D from Russia contributes his version under the title of Teach Dem Fi Survive which contains more dub than reggae and has a brilliant bass underpinning the whole effort. The USA is represented by Master See who’s completely stripped back rhythm is one of the many highlights before Haji Mike from Cyprus gives us a Mark Stewart–esque poem (Pain Pain Gain Gain) political dub which is nothing short of superb.
The Dubophonic website is here: dubophonic.com. They can be followed on Twitter as @Dubophonic and liked on Facebook. More Zion Dirty Sound can be heard on Soundcloud here: soundcloud.com/ziondirtysound
CD / DL
18 September 2015
Originally released in 1989, Integration has been given an affectionate remix to bring the tunes up-to-date and now sounds as though it was recorded yesterday. It’s probably one of the year’s finest roots reggae releases.
Lyrics of the Worlds troubles and peace/war are as relevant now as they were over twenty-five years ago and tracks like Pain And Suffering with its dub bridge halfway through are quite stunning. A sumptuous bass lovingly underpins a classic reggae beat with lazy drums and clear vocals.
Remixed by sound engineer Ben Findley, each and every track is classic Rhythmites who were always known for their exemplary live performances and didgeridoo which makes an appearance on the superb No Guns with its almost rock guitars.
Aside form the original eight track listing are two new dub versions of Heed No Dream and A True which perfectly compliment the line-up. Affectionately presented in an authentic style they provide a pleasing end to a timeless album.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.