by: Jarret Lovell
Collie Buddz - Blue Dreamz - (Sony Music)
One of the biggest reggae tracks of 2008 – and arguably one of the biggest reggae tracks in the past 10 – 20 years – is “Come Around” by Collie Buddz. The song is stellar, hitting the listener over the head with the opening. No drums, no slow build up, just an instant drop of vocals and bass. And the song never wears thin. The debut album by Collie Buddz (S/T) likewise did not disappoint, as every track combined the reggae/dancehall vibe this American/Bermudian artist made as his signature sound. Since then, there has been a long silence from Collie Buddz, leaving fans (like me) to wonder when he’d be back with more. Now, the wait is over, as Collie Buddz returns with a 7 song e.p. While there isn’t anything that can compare to “Come Around” (that’s the problem with having as a first hit a reggae anthem), this e.p. establishes Buddz as an artist here to stay. “Pressure” has a great piano/bass dubline. “Sweet Wine” is itself sweet, with nice vocals. “Go Hard” starts with an old school rave/club scene beat, while “Repeat” is a bit of a ballad. All are wonderful and reminiscent of Gentleman. Try tracks 1-3. #2 is the single. A great return.
Green Lion Crew - Ganja Morning Riddim - (Riddim Box)
Listen to enough reggae, and one begins to notice that the bassline/rhythm track is used over and over by different vocalists, much the way different hip-hop/rap artists use the same beats and samples, but with different vocals. All of this dates back to the days of the sound system. Since Jamaican vocalists could not afford bands of their own, and often couldn’t afford time to book an in-house studio band, they would use the dub track to sing over and create a whole new song. After a while, studio producers picked up on this, and began to recycle their own “riddims” to be used for different vocalists to maximize their profit. Thus, the same riddim can be heard on a Wailing Souls cut and a Freddie McGregor cut. But this means that when a new riddim is created, it becomes quite an event, and now, many production crews will take advantage by releasing a full album with many artists singing over the same cut. This is known in reggae as the “Riddim” album. Here, the Green Lion Crew (King Mas, Mikey General, Mr. Williamz) have proffered 6 cuts using the same “Ganja Morning” riddim. Track 1 is titled “As I Rise”. Track 2 is the single cut “Ganja Morning.” Track #3 is the dub of “As I Rise” and is a standout. Track #4 is the “Steam & Chant dub” and features some trippy vocal effects, heavy bass, and melodica – think Alpha & Omega. Track #5 is the dub version of “Ganja Morning”. Track #6 is the riddim straight up. Try #3 or #6.
Lee Scratch Perry - Mr. Perry, I Presume - (Pressure Sounds)
What more needs to be said about Lee Scratch Perry? He is a pioneer in reggae/dub music, having had his hand in almost every successful reggae production. He has worked with every big name recording artist, and is credited with launching the careers of so many vocalists – from Junior Murvin to Max Romeo and so many others. He is the Kevin Bacon of reggae – linked somehow to the biggest and best, yet a colossal talent in his own. But like Kevin Bacon, not everything produced is golden, and there are a number of stinkers in an otherwise stellar career. In recent years, Mr. Perry has not been at the top of his game, seemingly phoning in a number of rambling vocal tracks under other producers, but having his name on the recording. Fortunately, UK-based label Pressure Sounds has been re-issuing a number of classic Perry cuts. Mr. Perry, I Presume continues this tradition, with 16 tracks pulled from some of his most famous recording sessions. On this radio promo version, we have five (5) sampler cuts. Track #1 is George Faith’s “Don’t Be Afraid (12 inch mix)” – a leftover from George Faith’s “Super 8” sessions. It is very reminiscent of the classic “Curly Locks” riddim from Junior Byles. Track #2 (“Jah I”) is a dub that sounds straight off of “Blackboard Jungle” and is actually a variation on the theme of “Words of My Mouth” (“Rubba Rubba Words” perhaps). Track #3 (“Keep On Trying” by Susan and Bunny) is previously unreleased. Track #4 is called “Big Bird Skank” and is a silly dub credited to the Upsetters. Track #5 (“Words Acapella”) is yet another variation of Track #2, which is a variation of the track “Words of My Mouth” on Blackboard Jungle. This features great vocals with the dub, so it isn’t an acapella per se. My pick: #1 or #5. Play.