Review: Roots Vibration keep up their tireless dub reissue work with another dig into the untouchable back catalogue of the one and only Lee "Scratch" Perry. Back to 1978, this is a slab of gold that was first recorded in the revered Black Ark studios the dub don owned before burning it down in a stoned and paranoid state. "Captive" finds him musing inwardly on the continual enslavement of black people in the West, calling for mental and spiritual liberation. The Upsetters once again dub it out on the flip side in excellent fashion.
Review: "Better Herring" has become a big money tune from the Pioneers and it was last available as part of the mega-comp "The Story Of Trojan Records". Before that, the title tune had only been released in England on 7" on Attack in 1970 under the Soul Directions alias but thanks to Boss Records, this lo-fi bit of ska and retro soul is now available to DJs and dancers once more. "Mama Look Deh" on the flip is a much more laid back tune, with a happier outlook, gorgeous guitar riffs that seem to grow ever quicker and tight drum playing to get you moving.
Review: Rock A Shaka's "Prince Buster Classics" series of seven-inch singles has served up some scintillating Ska of late, mixing tracks from the great man with ones he produced for other artists. The latest "45" in the series is more straightforward and simply gathers together two of the Ska pioneer's greatest cuts. First up on side A is 1966's "I Won't Let You Cry", a super-sweet fusion of mid-tempo ska rhythms, dewy-eyed soul vocals from the man himself and nods towards the American rhythm and blues style that so inspired him. That rhythm and blues influence comes to the fore on flipside "I'm Sorry", a loved-up, organ-rich number that features some of Buster's most heartfelt vocals.
Review: Hot on the heels of their fine compilation of classic Prince Buster tracks and productions, "Roll On Charles Street", Rock A Shacka delivers a tidy "45" featuring two of the collection's most potent cuts. On the A-side you'll find "Islam", a driving but punchy classic from 1964 that should be familiar to all but the newest ska fans (the vocal refrain, "my people, my people, do you not wanna go", is the killer hook). Over on the flip it's all about Don Drummond's "Sudden Attack", a Prince Buster-produced gem from the same year which like the A-side features all of the original Skatalites band as back-up. This is an altogether cheerier dancefloor number which boasts a suitably heavy rhythm and some suitably firing horns.
Sam Carty - "Milte Hi Akhen Aka Bird In Hand" (Full vocal version) (3:53)
Mystic I - "One More River To Cross" (3:09)
The Upsetters - "One More Dub To Cross" (3:18)
Junior Murvin - "People Get Ready" (3:23)
The Upsetters - "People Get Ready Dub" (3:18)
The Silvertones - "Feel All Right" (2:40)
Review: Barely a week goes by without a new release that has Lee "Scratch" Perry's name on it somewhere. This one from Rock A Shaka in Japan brings together all the best bits from the famous Black Arc studio and features big names like The Upsetters, Junior Murvin, The Silvertones, and Perry himself. There's a laidback air of sun kissed Caribbean grooves from top to bottom, with various Dubpate Mixes, full vocal versions and dubs adding up to a feel good collection of loved-up riddims that will slide their way into your affections.
Review: The Pioneers were pivotal during the skinhead reggae period and their 1970 album Battle Of The Giants on the mighty Trojan Records is as fine as they come. At the time it was released, the band was spending lots of time in the UK and taking cues from ska, but always returned to Jamaica to record. It shows in a record that mixes driving reggae grooves with more pop leaning songs and flourishes of soul. Swaggering rhythms like "Samfie Man" sit next to love struck tunes like "Consider Me" and it's not hard to see why this outfit was one of the first to have international reggae hits in the post-rocksteady era.