Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gussie Clarke's 'Right Tracks' In The Spotlight

Gussie Clarke: A man and his hits
Leroy Sibles, Augustus Pablo, The Mighty Diamonds and Jacob Miller. Some of the biggest names in foundation reggae music passed through his studio, and graced his hits. Pioneering producer Augustus "Gussie" Clarke, founder of Music Works studio, is being honored with several new digital and vinyl reissues this summer. 

Clarke had been recording since the 1970s–including Big Youth's seminal album Screaming Target–when, in 1988, the song "Rumors" by Gregory Isaacs, and the subsequent versions by JC Lodge ("Telephone Love") and Shabba Ranks ("Telephone Love Deh Pon Mi Mind") took the world by storm. 

His success following was nearly unparalleled in reggae at the time, charting with Shabba, Cocoa Tea, Deborahe Glasgow ("Champion Lover"), Home T ("Pirates") Lady G, Maxi Priest and Brian & Tony Gold. He even recorded one of the few duet albums by Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown (No Contest). Wikipedia lists his exhaustive discography, but for collectors and fans of '70s and '80s reggae, some new reissues should reveal more about Clarke's early work, much of which is totally out of print on vinyl or unavailable digitally.

During his peak in the late-80s and early-90s, Clarke's crisp, digital reggae sound was cleaner and more modern sounding than even dancehall pioneer King Jammy's output at the time. It was also the era of hitmakers like Donovan Germain at Penthouse Studio, and Bobby Digital at Digital B, but Clarke's Music Works songs stood out for their rich, melodic production and fresh, talented singers. To this day, Music Works studio is an in-demand facility for both Jamaican and international acts.

Gussie Clarke Presents The Right Tracks, a compilation album from 1976, will be reissued digitally, on LA and in a 7" single box set format in coming months. The set features rare productions with melodica master Augustus Pablo, crooners Horace Andy and Heptones' Leroy Sibles, plus classic DJs I-Roy and Trinity. The double CD set drops July 22, while the vinyl box set hits the streets in August.

Best of all, an album of rare August Pablo dubs produced by Clarke  (titled Born To Dub You) is slated for an August 25 release. If that weren't enough, a collection of Music Works hits from the late-80s and '90s are slated for issue this fall.

Gussie Presenting The Right Sevens (out August 5)

Disc 1
A. Leroy Smart – Pride And Ambition
B. Old Boys Inc. – Pride Version

Disc 2
A. Leroy Sibbles – No, No, No
B. The Society Squad – The Killer Version

Disc 3
A. Roman Stewart – Try Me
B. Simplicity People featuring Big Youth

Disc 4
A. Leroy Sibbles – Guiding Star
B. Augustus Pablo – Classical Illusion

Disc 5
A. Gregory Isaacs – Oh No I Can’t Believe
B. Augustus Pablo – Believe A Dub

Disc 6
A. The Mighty Diamonds – Danger In Your Eyes
B. Tommy McCook – Danger In Your Dub

Disc 7
A. Mikey Dread – Proud To Be Black
B. Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke – Black Foundation


New Dre Island: Natural & Dubby

The new single from Dre Island, produced by JA's Natural High Productions, lives up to the promise that this singer has shown to date.

Dre has been featured on the Militancy and Rough Road riddims, and alongside artists Kabaka Pyramid and Chronixx. He definitely deserves to be in that company, with a confident flow and clear vocal timber, Dre comes across with the fire of a Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley or Protoje.

Preview the new track below and look out for more from this rising youth whose already been featured on a slew of mixtapes.

Best part about the new track "Live Forever" ? The serious, serious, dub version! It's a true dub fan's treat. Make sure you grab the track at all digital retail outlets.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Roots Music on the Radar

New roots reggae music is coming by the bushel and the pound as summer kicks in. And it's a global effort, with great productions coming out of the Jamaica, UK, Africa, Virgin Islands, Hawaii and elsewhere. As Ini Kamoze sang, "World of reggae music on yah!"

We'll discus a few releases in detail below, but start – look out for the following new titles soon in your record stores and digital retailers... New release albums: JUNE 3: Mungo's Hi-Fi Serious Time, JUNE 10: Popcaan Where We Come From, Hollie Cook Twice, Maxi Priest Easy To Love, Rebelution Count Me In, JUNE 17: DJ Vadim Dubcatcher, Mato Homework: Dub, JUNE 24: Tessanne Chin Count On My Love, Specialist Presents: Alborosie & Friends,  also also soon: Bob Marley Legend: 30th Anniversary Edition and new albums from Jah Sun and Earl 16. Also out now

Ethiopian musicians (now based in Tel Aviv, Israel), Zvuloon Dub System don't have a date yet announced for their next album Anbessa Dub. But ForwardEver has heard previews, and it's their most solid effort yet. The band plays horn-infused roots reggae that sounds like the UKs Misty In Roots or Jamaica's Twinkle Brothers. Yet Ethiopian chords, rhythms and influences are also prominent, making this an authentic blend of reggae and dub inspired by Jamaica but grounded in Africa. Highlights include solid reggae tracks like "Tenesh Kelbe Lay" and "Sab Sam," while "Yene Almaz" is a traditional Ethiopian melody. Fans of Augustus Pablo take note, and look for this one to be out summer or fall via VP Records. The band tour across the US this summer.

Sizzla has released a flurry of albums in recent months, including the XTM-produced Radical and the JohnJohn (King Jammy$ son) released Nuh Worry Unu Self.  Next up is the Mr Savona creation Born A King (Muti Music), which features solid reggae one-drop arrangements and some innovative global beats, dancehall and hip-hop backing tracks. Savona, an Australian studio whiz, utilized a 10 piece band for the 15-song album.  Guests on the album include Errol Dubnkley, Turbulence and even the dear missed rocksteady legend Alton Ellis. Listen to the entire album on Muti's Soundcloud page. Or check the player below.


We first reported on UK soulstress Hollie Cook in 2011 – and that post has become one of ForwardEver's most read! Ms. Cook is back in a big way with her new album Twice, out June 10 on Mr. Bongo Records. (Listen) With backing again by the supremely talented Prince Fatty, the album features odes to the Slits' Ari Up, and balances mature roots productions with fantastic throw-back UK lovers rock style tunes. Fans of Carol Thompson, Sandra Cross or Janet Kaye will adore this album. Seriously lush, dynamic tracks like "99" and first single "Looking For Real Love" [Watch official video] showcase Cook's smooth and relaxed yet fully realized R&B reggae delivery. She's a true gem.

On his latest album The Sound, Pressure Bus Pipe extolls his birthplace on the song"Virgin Islands Nice," but doesn't shy from fiery political and social topics throughout the rest of the album, as on "Stand Firm," Run Away," and "Cry For Humanity." Produced by Zion I Kings (Zion I, Lustre Kings and I-Grade) the album features great guest stints from Volcano, Lutan Fyah, Midnite, Ras Batch and more.  Grab the excellent official Digital Ancient remix of "Run Away" right here. It's a dubbed-out and dub-stepped up blast that suits the original's vibes well. Pressure is definitely a leader of the modern roots army, and The Sound is a worthy example of his powerful vocals and conscious messages.







Sunday, May 18, 2014

Video: Protoje's "Who Knows" + Interview

Watch rising roots reggae artist Protoje's new video for the track "Who Knows" (now up to 200K views!) Then watch him discus the track and his career with On Stage's Winford Williams.

Video: Protoje "Who Knows (ft. Chronixx)"


Video Interview: Protoje: On Stage



Monday, April 28, 2014

New Kabaka Pyramid Video – Grab Free Track

Watch Kabaka Pyramid's new video for "Never Be A Slave" on DJ Frass's Cane River riddim and grab a free tracks from Kabaka right here. 

And catch Kabaka live at festivals this summer, including June 20 at Sierra Nevada World Music fest in Boonville, CA.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Video: Chronixx – Rastaman Wheel Out

It's a the new video from Chronixx, taken from his debut mini-album Dread & Terrible, out now.  The video features extended dramatic scenes, with Chronixx playing the lead role of a humble rasta from the hills going about his business only to be harassed by babylon (police). The video itself harkens back to classic Jamaican films like Harder They Come or Rockers. Check it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Outta Road: Great Cover, Video & Riddims

With it's classic dancehall poster artwork, Mr. Vegas's new two-riddim showcase is a brilliantly marketed and presented set of music. The compilation features two riddims, one roots and culture, the other bashment dancehall.

The cover art depicts comically accurate images of a dread with his staff of judgement to represent the roots riddim ("Protector"), and a "shotta" with his gold chain and "gun finger" pose to represent the dancehall riddim, titled "Outta Road."

There has been a renewed appreciation for dancehall posters and reggae folk art, as evidenced by the use of cartoon artist Clovis for several recent album and single covers and LA's Sonos Art Gallery's "Ring Di Alarm" sound system culture art show.

Now watch Mr. Vegas and crew tear up the road with this clever medley video.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reggae Runnings: Cool and Hot

News and runnings...
Chronixx
Rising roots artist Chronixx will release a debut "mini-album," titled Dread & Terrible on April 1. The album features previously released singles, new material and dub versions of several songs.

Other notable upcoming album new releases: Horace Andy Get Wise (April 1),  Ziggy Marley Fly Rasta (April 15), Ernest Ranglin (May 20). Dancehall upstart Popcaan will release his debut Dre Skull-produced album on the US label Mixpak this summer. In addition, Sizzla (Nuh Worry Unu Self) and Mykal Rose (Crucial World) each have new releases on John John's Records. John John is son of famous dancehall producer King Jammy.


Young Warrior
More father's and sons: British dub master Jah Shaka's son Young Warrior has released three albums of new material, including Dub Box, and albums by artists Principal and Sister Beloved. Fans of UK digital steppers-style dub and reggae will enjoy these collections, which carry on the Shaka tradition of militant, conscious sounds and lyrics.
During his lifetime, Roland "Fatis" Burrell of Xterminator Productions and label made a huge impact on reggae by bringing artists including Garnett Silk, Sizzla, Luciano and Beres Hammond to new audiences and greater acclaim. His unfortunate passing in 2011 left a void in conscious roots music. However, his son has stepped in, relaunching his father's business as XTM Nation, and producing hits for Kayla Bliss and Jesse Royal. A new compilation presents an excellent overview of the younger Burrell's new endeavors. From the album's press materials: "Living Heart, Vol. 1 (hear preview) is an album shared by father and son, and symbolizes a passing of the baton from one generation to the next. Kareem Burrell’s XTM Nation is part of a new wave of Jamaican music that represents the same cultural values that have made reggae the most powerful and relevant of all genres, stretching back to the days of Bob Marley and beyond…"


Los Angeles club goers are mourning the loss of Nemencio Jose Andujar, better known as Reggae Pops to cancer. Pops, age 70, was a LA nightclub fixture whose nickname was derived from his frequency at reggae and soul music club nights, his natty dress style, and his elegant dancing. Memorials are planned at Dub Club LA and other venues this week.



Alpha Boys Radio is now available 24-7 streaming on iTunes Internet Radio channel under Reggae. The station features an incredible mix of original Jamaican sounds, from ska, rocksteady and roots to modern reggae, from many of the veteran Alpha Boys artists and musicians such as The Skatalites and Yellowman. Tune in and hear how you can help this historic orphanage and music training institution.

More artists have been added to Northern California's Sierra Nevada World Music concert, held the weekend of June 20 in Boonville, CA (Mendicino County). The heavy line up now includes Barrington Levy, Clinton Fearon, Chuck Fenda and Hollie Cook. This is addition to Bitty McLean, Morgan Heritage, John Holt, U-Roy, Sly & Robbie, The Tamlins and Horace Andy. The serious line up also includes a DJ set from On-U Sounds dub producer Adrian Sherwood (Dub Syndicate) and Nigerian singer, and son of Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti.

Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel has been found guilty of murder along with three associates. The Kartel trial was the longest criminal proceeding in Jamaica's history. The verdict, based almost entirely on circumstantial and forensic evidence, was controversial among the artists' many fans, some of whom protested in front of the court leading up to the verdict's announcement. However, the result was also widely embraced by Jamaicans exasperated by the level of crime, as evidenced by comments in the Jamaican Observer. One jury member was arrested for attempting to bribe the jury foreman, add a sinister wrinkle to the events.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Midnite's New Album Generates Beauty

Prolific St. Croix, Virgin Islands reggae band Midnite is back with their latest release, Beauty For Ashes, produced by Laurent "Tippy" Alfred of I-Grade Records. The arrangements and recording are crisp and melodic, featuring live horn sections, heavy riddims and guest vocal appearances from fellow VI artists Lutan Fyah, Pressure Buss Pipe and Ras Batch.

Highlight tracks include "A Remninder," "When Jah Arise," and the album's title track, and several songs include extended dub mixes. The album's overall timber is reminiscent of UK greats Aswad in their prime–in other words classic roots reggae structures with bubbling organs, round, warm bass tones and well-constructed song arrangements. Get a taste and check Walshy Fire's (Major Lazer) Beauty For Ashes promo mix.



Jah Cure Says "Wake Up"

Jah Cure latest video is an inspiring look at how Rastafarian culture can positively impact Jamaica. The song calls on Jah children to "Wake Up" while showing the journey through the city of a conscious youth. The video is expertly shot and features different communities throughout Kingston.

Cure also recently covered John Legend's "All of Me" in an impeccable soulful reggae style. The single and video will be out soon.