Run The Track: April 2010

Etana

BOUNTY KILLER TIRED [ROMEICH]

Bounty was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend recently. He then used his one phone call to threaten her with violence. How ironic then, to hear him hail “black brothers behind the steel” except the Killer also had his US waiver taken away, and had to cancel several concerts in the States as a result.

The man’s troubled, yet this is another fierce sufferers’ tune from the Poor People’s Governor, calling for an end to the poverty and crime that’s tearing at Jamaica’s soul. “I’m tired of the robbers and the killers and the lawyers,” he chants over relentless dancehall beats. This is easily one of the best Bounty Killer tracks for months, even allowing for his attempts to sing the chorus!

SADE FEATURING TARRUS RILEY & DUANE STEPHENSON SOLDIER OF LOVE REMIX [FAT EYES]

Everyone’s favourite track from Sade’s Soldier Of Love album, remixed by Colin “Bulby” York and with the additional attraction of Tarrus Riley and the occasional air horn. The military sounding snare drums are a perfect match for the lyrics and yet Tarrus just gets in the way somehow, rather than enhancing what’s there already.

A marvellous idea though, and still a must-have tune for club DJs.

TARRUS RILEY SWEET JAMAICA [JOHN JOHN]

SIZZLA MUSIC IN MY SOUL [JOHN JOHN]

SANCHEZ MAD LOVE FOR YOU [JOHN JOHN]

Horace Andy’s Zion Gate, produced by Bunny Lee, has inspired some fabulous versions over the years, and here’s three more to add to that collection. Tarrus’ cut is a prayer for his country’s conscience. Echoing Bounty, he’s tired “to hear blam blam,” and seeing “blood run like water.” The message is clear, whilst Sizzla’s Music In My Soul is a celebration, and also a plea to respect the sanctity of the dance. Arms and lighters are going to be waving like crazy to this one but don’t overlook Sanchez’s Mad Love For You either – a soaring romance, and just as essential.

GENTLEMAN GOOD OLD DAYS [JOHN JOHN]

SANCHEZ TRUST IN ME [JOHN JOHN]

John John’s father King Jammy produced Johnny Osbourne’s Water Pumping back in the early eighties, and it’s still an ace rub-a-dub rhythm. Gentleman is Germany’s first crossover reggae star but possesses genuine credibility. He’s coming from a sound-system background and so his reflections on how dances have changed over time carry weight, whilst being sing-jayed with obvious sincerity.

After a string of hits stretching back well over a decade, John John and Sanchez clearly enjoy a special chemistry. It’s heartening to hear the singer back on form and making dancehall-friendly tracks again, as also heard on the recent VP album Now & Forever.

ETANA HEARTBROKEN [NECESSARY MAYHEM]

Etana was shaping up to be the most important female reggae singer to emerge in a generation, but now seems to have lost her way somewhat. She’s singing soulful lovers’ rock here, and over a rhythm that has a classic UK feel courtesy of producer Curtis Lynch Jnr. It’s a beautiful record, only somewhat removed from the roots queen persona that made all of us sit up and take notice of her in the first place.

G. WHIZZ TOMORROW [TJ RECORDS]

G. Whizz was here in London the other week, where he won new fans thanks to his likeable voice and a winning way with melody. There’s a singsong quality to Tomorrow, which fair glows with positivity. The chorus is both uplifting and catchy, the choral harmonies wonderfully enjoining, and he even adds a little dee-jaying halfway through. It’s a record that deserves heavy rotation on mainstream radio, but will last all summer anyway.

MUNGA ONE LITTLE SPLIFF [JAM 2]

Jam 2 is another of King Jammy’s sons, and with the same deadly instinct for a good song as his father. Munga’s voiced this one about the indignity of being busted for “a one little spliff” which he smokes to aid his meditation, as do millions of other people. His storytelling shines throughout, even though tinged with muted anger and defiance. The rhythm’s good too – a gentle one-drop that meanders nicely in the background.

MR. G & ANGEL DOOLAS HOW ME SOUND [FME]

Mr. G & Angel Doolas are the latest dancehall singer/deejay combination, and this may well be the tune to bust them since it’s catchy, witty and simple enough to stick in the brain and demand a click of the repeat button. Doolas used to be in the Scare Dem Crew with Elephant Man. Whilst not as strong a singer as Nitty Kutchie, he warbles fetchingly over this nagging dancehall beat as his friend cavorts in support – even imitating Shaggy at one point. A likeable tune; and warmly recommended.

COLLIE BUDDZ COME DOWN [MOJIZA / HARPER DIGITAL]

Bermudan white boy dancehall star Collie Buddz must have been listening to some classic oldies because the melody sounds familiar, whilst the slow, undulating rhythm is similar to Flex – the tune that took Mad Cobra to No. 1 in America and served as the backdrop to Buju’s Boom Bye Bye. It’s a bit saucy, but people will love it anyway and think him smart, even though it’s nothing too original.

SIZZLA PRECAUTION [KALONJI RECORDS]

SIZZLA WHAT’S HAPPENING [KALONJI RECORDS]

LUTAN FYAH CROWN H.I.M [KALONJI RECORDS]

Precaution is an uncompromising reality tune from Kalonji, who mourns the effects of political violence over a rhythm similar to Baltimore, or at least one sharing the same tempo. Music like this is serious as your life, and Sizzla is feeling every line. No one documents the moral decay that surrounds us so eloquently as he. For further proof take a listen to What’s Happening, voiced ballad style, but tackling weighty issues such as the environment. There are other cuts by Bobby Hustle, Chino, Dway, Perfect and Sensation, but Lutan Fyah’s reverential Crown H.I.M is the standout.

HYA-P JAH JAH BLESS ME [ONE BEAT ONE MUSIC]

Hya-P is from Clarendon in Jamaica and recorded his debut for Penthouse before collaborating with the likes of Ruddy Irie, Baby Wayne and General B. He’s a roots singer of real prowess, singing original, righteous lyrics on a brand-new adaptation of the Slickers’ Johnny Too Bad rhythm. A Rasta hymn to seek out and cherish, and that’s guaranteed to get crowds bubbling.

ADMIRAL TIBBET REGGAE MUSIC [G.T MUZIC]

VILLA DUTCH & FEEKEZ ENEMIES [G.T MUZIC]

LIVE WYA BE MYSELF [G.T MUZIC]

Another set of winning roots tunes, voiced on the Belt rhythm – a one-drop groove driven by “live” drums and organ shuffle. Admiral Tibbet hasn’t changed a bit these past twenty years ago and “reggae music is still in charge,” just as he says. Witness the rise of Live Wyaa – a group who cleave to time-honored values, both musically and lyrically, and with clever vocals too. The Villa Dutch & Feekez track is a little cantankerous, but hard to resist whilst Bescenta’s Give Jah The Praise is the pick of several other cuts, including those by Chuck Fender, Kali Blaxx, Mikeylous and I Octane.

EARL SIXTEEN & RAS ZACHARRI JAH IS MY KEEPER / KEEPER DUB [MERGE 7”]

IZANNA KNOW JAH / DEM NUH KNOW DUB [MERGE 7”]

Produced by Ruff Cutt’s Fish Brown, Jah Is My Keeper – a singer/deejay pairing starring JA veteran Earl Sixteen – really grows on you. The rhythm has a touch of Treasure Isle about it and is tailor-made for roots and rub-a-dub sessions, whilst the song itself is catchy enough for radio, plus there’s a nice dub on the flipside.

Merge is Earl’s label, and Empress Izanna a charming Rasta singer who specialises in conscious lyrics. The rhythm’s different on this track, but still of considerable appeal to roots selectors.

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About johnmasouri
John Masouri is a long-time author and music journalist specialising in reggae and its many off-shoots including dub, ska, roots and dancehall. The author of Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley's Wailers, published by Omnibus Press in 2008, he is currently working on a biography of reggae singer Peter Tosh, due to appear next year. In addition to book projects, he continues to write articles and reviews for Reggae Vibes (France), Riddim (Germany) and Echoes - formerly Black Echoes - which is renowned as Britain's No. 1 black music monthly. His work has also appeared in Mojo, Music Week, the Guardian, the Observer and the NME, as well as magazines in the US, Caribbean and Japan.

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