Review: More from One By One Records' founder Baay Selectah's celebrated Valencia Roots Volume 2 mix-tape, a 2016 set entirely made up of new cuts based on classic roots reggae riddims. The riddim being bitten/paid tribute to this time round is Coxsone Dodd's killer groove for Burning Spear's 'Rocking Time', which has been repurposed by countless reggae producers since. A-side 'Kailen' boasts a rasping, heavily accented lead vocal from toaster-and-singer Missal, whose lilt suits the tweaked Coxsone riddim like a glove. Baay Selectah delivers his own dub style 'Version' on the flip, stripping the track back to the drums and bass before adding jazzy guitar licks and heady Hammond organ-style licks.
Review: Four years ago, One By One Records founder Baay Selectah offered up Valmeria Roots Volume 2, a digital mixtape based on his interpretations of classic roots reggae riddims from the past. It included two new songs based on Coxsone Dodd's legendary 'Breaking Up' riddim, which was first heard on an Alton Ellis single in 1969 and has been repurposed by producers ever since. This limited-edition 7" single features both of Bay Selectah's 2016 tributes: 'When I Found You', featuring toaster style rap vocals from Payoh SoulRebel, and 'Me Nah Trust Dem', which boasts a wonderfully soulful lead vocal from fellow Valmeria Roots crewmember Yeyoh Perez's more soulful and impassioned 'Me Nah Trust Dem'.
Earl Sixteen & The Inn House Crew - "Born To Be Free" (3:46)
The Inn House Crew - "The Uproar Riddim" (3:50)
Review: Room in the Key hits cat number 150 with Earl Sixteen & The Inn House Crew coming together on this big new rhythm. Earl "Sixteen" Daley has been doing his do since way back when, and has worked with masters like Lee Scratch Perry. Here he serves up a tale of lockdown and cries to be free, with digital effects and clean, pristine synths lifting spirits next to an upbeat groove. Of course, a dub is include don the flip with extra guitar riffs and natty chords all helping to colour the airwaves.
Something Special (feat Vin Gordon & Alan Weekes) (3:49)
Eggs Ben Boogaloo (feat Alex White) (4:05)
Lesean (feat Ray Carless) (4:23)
The Dolphin (feat Alan Weekes & Kevin Davy) (3:56)
Afras (feat Abdul Tee-Jay) (2:49)
Review: Earlier in the year, the Inn House Crew - a reggae supergroup featuring a wealth of legendary Jamaican players - provided the musical backing on vocalist Winston Ready's excellent Black Pearl album. Here they get a chance to showcase their undisputed musical skills under the watchful eye of producer Lewis Murtagh, on watch should be considered their debut album. It's a hugely entertaining affair that sees them embellish their usual reggae rhythms and basslines with everything from glistening jazz guitar solos and squelchy synthesizer lines, to samba-style acoustic guitars, calypso melodies and Ebo Taylor style solos. As a result, the album is surprisingly stylistically varied, but always rooted in reggae, roots and dub.
Review: This third volume of the Disco Devil Black Ark series pulls together 6 classics from Lee "Scratch" Perry's studio. 4 discomixes and 2 vocal/dub edits - the audio on these tracks has been extensively restored from original pressings yet it allows Perry's bizarre and wonderful tricks and techniques to shine through while maintaining the raw quality that made them so real in the first place. Jamaican roots music that's imbued with plenty of ganja spirit, from tricked out and cosmic to deep and more insular, brought about by one man's brilliant work behind the boards.
Review: Horus Records look back to the mid-seventies for this fine piece of instrumental funk reggae outta Jamaica. It comes from Keith Rowe and is the sort of tight little groover and well detailed rhythm to get you on your toes and sliding all over the floor. You'll also find a dubbed out version of rocksteady hit "Tonight" on the flipside, riddled with endless reverb that encourages you to sink in deep before the vocal comes on like a cosmic apparition and the woody hits scatter around you in the stereo field.
Review: Nick Raphael and Steve Gilder were Sound Iration and in 1990 they turned out this essential bit of early roots. It was initially super limited with just 350 copies with the b-side left totally blank. Long out of print and hard to find, it now gets a crisp reissue on Old Hard Bread and still gets you where it matters: The title track has a snaking lead harmonica line that wanders to and fro and takes you with it while tumbling drums and percolating synths ripple out into infinity. B side "Etched" is a more echoey and spaced out, fatter and deeper cut.
Review: Keith & Tex are best known for their "Stop That Train" fame, but now come good with a hot new tune filled with OG roots goodness. The excellent Soul Of Africa act as backing and to make this a lushly orchestrated tune with lazy lead trumpets and a bubbly bassline. Vocals muse on class, the divide between rich and poor and plenty more socially and politically sensitive subjects that have resonated for many years. On the flip, it's a trip into spaced out dub and liquid synth puddles with so much echo you will end up not knowing which way is left and which is right.
Review: High Note and Dub Store Japan delve into the 1977 album "One Essence" by Cedric "Im" Brooks for their next tasty 7". The saxophonist, composer and musical arranger who fused reggae with jazz, sometimes under the watchful eye of the legendary Coxsone Dodd, was a pioneering force in the evolution of reggae away from its more traditional roots. A-side "Blackness Of Darkness" is a gorgeous cut with a sombre lead trumpet line hanging above bubbly, earthy drums and embellished with golden chords and funky bass that will surely find favour with fans of parties like You're A Melody. "Africa Calling" is a slower, deeper lament with more recognisable reggae rhythms.
Review: I Love Sound prove it again with this four track 12" of goodness. Junior Roy's "Please Tell Me" offers a digital dub down low, with fresh, bright chords over the top and some complex vocal work that is diynamic and direct yet stuffed with realness. The version from King Kong - "Time Is Changing" - is laden with more effects but still brings plenty of crisp contemporary vibes. Claire Angel then takes the same production but serve sup her own vocal, with crystal clear soul and impassioned delivery making it an even more modern sounding gem, then a subtly tweaked mellow vibes mix focusses purely on the dub.
Review: Although the titular track might have been somewhat spoiled by a certain TV advert, the rest of Gregory Isaacs' most well known album still stands up. Lazy reggae rhythms are permeated by sparkly synth work from Wally Badarou, which at the time was a brave and progressive move away from traditional reggae and toward the ensuing sound of dancehall. Isaac's own buttery, laid back musings are front and centre, crystal clear and delicate throughout, always complimented by dainty piano chords that sink you deep into a dreamworld. The production throughout is first class, too, making this a true classic.