Thursday, February 24, 2005

Shock of the Century and Gregory Isaacs

Shock of the Century
(Sir Coxsone)
On March 30, 1986, at the Jubilee Hall in Brixton, Sir Coxsone's Outernational sound system (so named in tribute to the late, legendary Clement "Coxsone" Dodd) presented the Shock of the Century dance. A testament to why '80s dancehall is vastly underrated, it was, like most dances worldwide, taped, copied and circulated via a vast network of obsessed fans. Thanks to Sir Coxsone, you need not search for a crackling, hissy version of what is hailed as the "most popular live dance of all time." With Supercat, Nicodemus, Nitty Gritty, Eek-A-Mouse and Frankie Paul performing live and direct, this is not just a CD compilation, it's a historical artefact. 9.5/10

Gregory Isaacs
Sings Dennis Brown
The Crown Prince of Reggae recorded an album of his bredren Isaacs' tunes. Here, the Cool Ruler returns the favour. What's not to like? 8/10

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Luciano and Babylon OST

Reggae Max 2
(Jet Star)
The Reggae Max series is a great way to get introduced to some of the best music Jamaica has to offer. Given that folks like Luciano (why'd he ever change his name from Jetpher McClymont?) are prolific as all get out, it's tough to know where to start. But never fear, you name the artist and Jet Star's sure to have already done the selecting work and released a Reggae Max showcasing the best tunes. As an added bonus, the CDs aren't that expensive. This compilation is full of hits, from "Lessons in Life" to "Ulterior Motive." 9/10

Babylon OST
This 1980 flick about a West London soundsystem remains a fabled dream to me. Hopefully the reissue of the soundtrack (with wicked tunes by Yabby You) means a DVD release ain't too far behind. 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva
Awfully Deep (Big Dada)
I fell for Rodney Smith upon screening the brilliant “Witness (1 hope)” video. Not only is the tune great, but watching the guy compete with the yung’uns at an elementary school field day is pure foolish fun. Though more serious, this album does not diminish my love for Mr. Manuva. Sure, no one in America is going to pay him any mind—Pitchfork’s already insisting that Roots Manuva has missed the grime boat—but why should you care? This is a great record. Moody, refreshingly intelligent and witty, this is a set of tracks that runs that gamut from the danceable (“Rebel Heart”, for example) to the introspective (“Awfully Deep” lives up to its title). Sure, it’s tough to categorize, but that’s what makes it so bloody interesting. It’s a mashed up mess of soulful R&B, heavy heavy dub beats, electro franticness, dancehall intensity, and, I’d argue, a dollop of grime for good measure. All the 50 Cent fans are so seriously missing out.