by: Jarret Lovell
The Uniques - "Absolutely Rock Steady" (Pressure Sounds)
One of the most popular and enduring vocal harmony groups of the Rock Steady era, The Uniques occupy a very special place in the hearts of Jamaican music lovers. Ask any reggae aficionado to name their favourite singer and itís a certainty that Slim Smithís name will head the list. "Absolutely Rock Steady" showcases a selection of some of The Uniques most popular hits, along with some of their less well known recordings. Recommended for reggae/funk/soul formats.
Horace Andy - "Serious Times" (Groove Attack)
The name Horace Andy is not only synonymous with some of reggae's biggest hits; his name is also familiar to fans of the widely popular trip-hop outfit "Massive Attack" where Andy has been a member since the early 1990s. "Serious Times" finds Andy is top form performing with some of Jamaica's top musicians - including Dean Frazer, "Sticky" Thompson and Leroy "Horse Mouth" Wallace. Recommended for reggae/down-tempo formats.
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - "Revelation" (State of Emergency)
If the name "Lee Scratch" Perry no longer makes the heart of the dub music lover skip a beat, there's good reason. It's been years (decades?) since Perry released a truly dub-oriented album, or a solid reggae album at that. Sadly, "Revelation" is not the album to bring him back into the reggae/dub fold (but far be it from me to withold one of his recordings from the reggae "new release" section.) In recent years, Perry has worked with an array of top musicians - several of which make appearances on "Revelation" (e.g., Keith Richards, George Clinton.) But the music is banal and more electronic (and cheesy) than reggae, with Perry sputtering vocals in his typical incoherent fashion. Still, there's something charming about Perry, even when he's at his worst. Listen and judge for yourself, though check for OPI. Recommended for reggae/electronic formats.
Various Artists - "Tribute to a Reggae Legend" (Putumayo Records)
Of course, the reggae legend in question is none other than Robert Nesta Marley. Though while it seems like everyone is quick to ride the Marley bandwagon (what with remix cds, covers and the like), Putumayo has put out a great compilation of world music artists covering Marley. From Brazil to Ghana to Sierra Leone, the artists on this compilation present their own unique interpretations of Marley songs. Featured artists include CA's own Rebelution doing a stellar cover of "Natural Mystic," the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, and Funkadesi, to name a few.
The Seed Organization Meets Big Toe's Hi Fi - "The Heatscore Riddim" (Balanced Records)
Don't know much about this 7 inch single (released here on CD) except that it is great!!!! Two tracks featuring the same (heatscore) riddim. It's digital reggae that is bass heavy, and features vocals from Daddy Scotty and Dangerman. Track #2 highly recommended for reggae/electronic/down-tempo/hip-hop formats.