Friday, July 30, 2010

'The Best of Ernie Smith Original Masters' Review (VP/17 North Parade)

'The Best of Ernie Smith Original Masters' released July 13 on VP/17 North Parade. Glenroy ‘Ernie’ Smith is a national hero in Jamaica. His constant presence on radio and stage during the 1960s and 70s placed this folk influenced, pop singer and songwriter at the top of the national charts and above the rising tide of reggae music and Jamaica’s other musical hero – Bob Marley. While Glenroy Anthony Smith is similar in many respects to the wealth of talent that has come and gone through the walls of countless Kingston recording studios, he is a distinctly enduring entity in Jamaican music. His songs, sung with the trademark baritone that can be compared to Lou Rawls, still play frequently on Jamaican radio. His name still draws smiles of recognition and familiarity when mentioned to any Jamaican.
The combination of Federal Records, the island's most advanced recording facility and Ernie Smith, it's most popular recording artist, placed these productions at the top of the Jamaican music industry during the era and earned international acclaim for many. Ernie Smith wrote hits for himself and others, including Johnny Nash’s “Tears On My Pillow” which, appears here with its original title I Can’t Take It. This is the first re-mastered ‘hits’ CD compiled from the original Federal Records tapes and features some of Ernie’s best loved hits including Pitta Patta and Duppy Gunman, among others. The album also includes covers of Kris Kristofferson’s Sunday Morning Coming Down and Bread’s I Love You To Want Me. Plus the Johnny Nash and Bob Marley penned You Poured Sugar On Me. Get to know Jamaica’s unsung musical hero Ernie Smith! Recommended!

1. I Can’t Take It
2. Bend Down
3. Girl (Tell Me What To Do)
4. One Dream
5. Ride On Sammy
6. Pitta Patta
7. I Love You To Want Me
8. Love Song
9. You Poured Sugar On Me
10. Life Is Just For Living
11. Sunday Morning Coming Down
12. Duppy Gun Man
13. Key Card
14. And As We Fight One Another /Fe De Power And The Glory
15. Nice Time
16. Footprints on the Ceiling
17. All For Jesus

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

10 Ft. Ganja Plant '10 Deadly Shots, Volume 1' Review (Roir)

Roots reggae has long been described as a music of the people. Tales of upliftment, faith, and salvation have resulted in a music that people can truly relate to and a music that people use as a positive influence while navigating the otherwise negative system we've all become accustomed to. It's absolutely amazing to think that a music that has had such a massive influence on the entire globe had it's humble beginnings on a small island in the Caribbean. From Japan to Sweden, Germany to Brazil, Australia to France, and North America to Africa, roots reggae is a constant. The classic Jamaican sound has been
mastered by artists and bands from places as close as St. Thomas, to places as distant as New Zealand, and quite literally everywhere in between. One such band, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, a group shrouded in anonymity, has established quite a reputation for dispensing the authentic Jamaican sound. 10 Ft Ganja Plant from the start had many things to say. One was to play the only music they knew how to and to give people something they felt was not heard a lot in the world today- roots reggae. Being collectors of the music they sought out many pieces of vintage equipment to make their records. The album 'Presents' debuted in 2000 and was released independently on I-Town Records. As they continued to build up an arsenal of music they decided to present the material they had recorded on two consumer JVC cassette decks to a friend. In doing so their relationship and family grew by introducing them to the well known record label ROIR (say ROAR). From there it encouraged them to grow as a group of friends, family, musicians and engineers.
Signing with ROIR brought 'Hillside Airstrip' in 2001 and introduced many new sounds and musicians to the record. From this point on the studio was like a revolving door of musicians cutting a track and passing it off. 'Midnight Landing' arrived in 2003 reiterating the bands passion for roots deeply rooted in the mid to late 70's. The bass got heavier, the drums bigger, and the melodies stronger. 'Bass Chalice' was then released in 2005. A short break was taken to gather the vibes, build a new studio and lay the foundation for what would become 'Bush Rock' which was released in 2009.
Reaching new levels of psychedelic sounds and heavy bass production brings us to where they are now. In talking recently, a few of them seemed to be in the same place of looking back to classic sounds of groups like The Upsetters, Silvertones, Pioneers, Gladiators, Gregory Isaacs, Lee Perry, The Maytones, Burning Spear and some of the greats that graced them such as Ernest Ranglin, Lynn Taitt, Jackie Mittoo, Carlton Barrett, Family Man and so many others. Thus was born 10 Ft's latest masterpiece '10 Deadly Shots, Volume 1', a fitting name for an absolute deadly medley of 10 original, classic-roots and rocksteady instrumentals where the tenor saxophone rides shotgun.
10 Ft. describes the session this way: "It's a cold weekend in February and the Cessna's land. The vibes brew as the room fills, while the bass thumps a beat and the snare drum rings a tune. The chords echo through the room as the smell of analog tape enters the air.....A familiar start to a 10 ft Ganja Plant recording session. We like to keep things fresh, create a vibe, throw around the ideas, write the track, record the track and never play it again. We record almost all of the records live, everyone in one room. The exception would be the occasional vocal, keyboard guitar horn line that was impossible to play at the same time. All of the material is captured by reel to reel 2,4,8,16,24 tracks. During this particular session we were using 8 tracks."
'10 Deadly Shots' begins with Bonny and Clyde, a quality rocksteady jam with an Ernie Ranglin-esque guitar complimenting not only this riddim, but a good many of the tracks on the record. Apache Kid  has an exceedingly welcome feeling, similar to the little known Marley classic She's Gone from 1978's 'Kaya'. Boomshot! Dillinger again showcases 10 Ft.'s innate ability to craft a superb rocksteady riddim.
Belle Starr and Machine Gun are both upbeat tunes with a modern touch, proving 10 Ft.'s capable of being innovative while remaining true to the roots-reggae sound.
This is an album with absolutely NO filler. Every single track is a gem that will want to be heard again and again. It will make you feel good. It will make you want to rock to the beat. As many a reggae deejay has said: "Music so haffi play it twice." In this case, you'll play it many more times than that. CRUCIAL!

Track Listing:
1. Bonny and Clyde
2. Apache Kid
3. Dillinger
4. Jesse James
5. Belle Starr
6. Machine Gun
7. Kid Curry
8. Billy the Kid
9. Black Bart
10. Sundance Kid

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stick Figure 'Smoke Stack' Review (Stick Figure Music)

Possessing a unique style of music that combines a creative blend of upbeat roots reggae with the reverberating echoes of dub comes Stick Figure.
Their latest effort 'Smoke Stack'- although it's with hesitancy that the word 'their' is used because the album was written, recorded, and produced by Scott Woodruff, a young man from Duxbury, MA. All of Stick Figure's songs are made by recording each instrument separately, layering several tracks on top of one another in unison. In essence, it's safe to say that Scott Wodruff is Stick Figure and Stick Figure is Scott Wodruff.
One thing that is immediately evident on 'Smoke Stack' is the quality of the music. The precise attention to detail is impressive. Without question, Stick Figure has a definite feel for roots reggae. To think that each instrument on each track was played by one individual makes the music all the more impressive. (Yes, you read that correctly!) In fact, it's mind boggling. Dedication.....check. Patience.....check. Passion.....check. Talent....check, no better make that check PLUS.
Stand out tracks include Livin' It, a rootsy, laid-back tale of doing what makes us happy. In this case it's creating sweet reggae music. The progression of the music is solid and catchy,  reminiscent of  'In The Middle' by rockers Jimmy Eat World.  Fallen Down is another stand out. The vibe is up-tempo and the riddim is broken down in several places giving it an edgy, 'live' feel. This is definitely one of the best tracks vocally as well. Longtime is another nice tune set to a classic, lazy, one drop riddim.
Folsom Prison Dub is truly one of the highlights of the album. Johnny Cash was a huge fan of roots reggae and thus would've no doubt been pleased to hear one of his most popular tunes interpreted so beautifully. Simple, yet very satisfying, just as the Man in Black would've liked it.
'Smoke Stack' is an album that, musically speaking, will hold it's own with some of the finest roots reggae out there. The fact that it was created exclusively with live instruments, save for the welcome effects of the heavy dub influence, is impressive in and of itself. As stated, Stick Figure has a tremendous feel for reggae music. The riddims are multi-dimensional and completely original. Vocally, there is definitely room to grow. What is profoundly obvious is Stick Figure's passion for roots reggae music. If they're able to channel that into a more impassioned vocal delivery and enhance their singing with greater emotion than the sky will truly be the limit for Stick Figure. Recommended, especially if you're looking for something fresh and original.


Track Listing:
1. Vibes Alive
2. Hawaii Song
3. Smoke Stack
4. Livin' It
5. Thick and Thin
6. Eazy Dub
7. Alright With Me
8. Break Of Day
9. On 2Nite
10. Fallen Down
11. Longtime
12. Folsom Prison Dub
13. Fight The Feeling
14. Hawaii Song (Acoustic)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Definitive Collection of Federal Records (1964-1982) Review (VP/17 North Parade)

In the development of Jamaican popular music, the role played by businessman Ken Lloyd Khouri cannot be underestimated; as a pioneer in the recording of mento in the early 1950s, as the founder of the first major studio/pressing plant, and as the boss of the Federal Records label, his contribution was both immense and pivotal. Before anyone else caught on, he had the vision to see that there could be such a thing as the Jamaican music industry.
VP Records has just released 'The Definitive Collection of Federal Records' covering 1964- 1982.
This collector’s edition compilation is music recorded over the course of two decades at Federal Records. This compilation features the notable tracks, My Daily Food by the Maytals, In The Garden by Eric Morris, and Hi-Life by the Granville Williams Orchestra, who, along with the Byron Lee’s Dragonaires was one of the last of Jamaica’s big bands. Also included are several absolute gems such as Ken Booth's Everthing I Own, and three Pluto Shervington classics Ram Goat Liver, Dat, and Your Honour.
Bob Andy- arguably the best songwriter Jamaica ever produced- is here represented with three tracks also; a very lively version of Joe South's immortal Games People Play, along with two of his own compositions- The Sun Shines For Me, and the beloved Fire Burning, a beautiful plea for the 'have-nots' to be in the place of the 'haves'.This great collection represents a part of Reggae music history that everyone should be made aware of. Recommended!

1. My Daily Food – The Maytals
2. In The Garden – Eric ‘Monty’ Morris
3. I Don’t Love You Anymore – Keith Lyn and Ken Lazurus
4. Hi-Life – Granville Williams Orchestra
5. Sounds And Pressure – Hopeton Lewis
6. Dance All Night – The Tartans
7. Take It Easy – Hopeton Lewis
8. Talking Love – The Paragons
9. Silent River (Runs Deep)- The Gaylettes
10. Napoleon Solo – Lyn Taitt and The Jets
11. Games People Play – Bob Andy
12. Any Little Bit – Techniques
13. Pum Pum A Go Kill You – Ken Lazurus
14. Dynamic Pressure – The Music Specialists
15. Son of A Preacher Man – The Gaylettes
16. Put Yourself In My Place – Ken Lazurus
17. The Sun Shine For Me – Bob Andy
18. Stagger Lee – John Holt
19. It’s Nice To Be With You – Boris Gardiner
20. Old Beirut – Thunderbirds
21. Pitta Patta – Ernie Smith
22. Alone Again Naturally –The Now Generation

1. Ooh What A Feeling – Johnny Nash
2. This Song Will Last Forever – Funky Brown
3. You Make Me Feel Brand New – Boris Gardiner
4. I Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely – Marcia Griffiths
5. Everything I Own – Ken Boothe and Lloyd Charmers
6. (It’s the Way) Nature Planned It – Ken Boothe and B.B. Seaton
7. Look Over Your Shoulder – Derrick Harriott
8. I’m Still Waiting – Delroy Wilson
9. Fire Burning – Bob Andy
10. Duppy Gun Man – Ernie Smith
11. Ramgoat Liver – Pluto Shervington
12. Play De Music – Tinga Stewart
13. Dat – Pluto Shervington
14. Sweet Bitter Love – Marcia Griffiths
15. Your Honour – Pluto Shervington
16. Creation Medley – Lord Creator
17. Lady – Wayne Wade
18. Irie Tempo – Lord Laro

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rootz Underground 'Gravity' Review (Riverstone Records)

With this Review we welcome DownTown to The Reggae Review Family!

It is not often you hear a Roots Reggae Band with all of its members straight from Yard (Stephen Newland: Vocals, Jeffrey Moss-Solomon: Rhythm Guitar/Vocals, Colin Young: Bass, Leon Campbell: Drums, Paul Smith: Keyboards/Vocals, Charles Lazarus: Lead Guitar) considering the state of the music industry in Jamaica. The creative process consists of a producer building a riddim and paying the hottest singers and/or deejays at the moment to 'voice' a tune. Not so in the case of Rootz Underground. It's very easy to tell that this band has been together for 10 years and counting, playing small clubs in Kingston and numerous other venues throughout the island and various parts of the world. With crafty production work, along with a jazzy, roots- rock- reggae feel, it's hard to imagine any music listener, let alone reggae fan, not liking something from their growing catalogue. Their debut album "Movement" hit the North American reggae market in early 2008 with a bang, striking a note with the young generation searching for something more in the music. As they toured the states extensively for the years to follow they spawned a second effort in "Alive," a compilation of tracks recorded throughout their "Reggae Train" tour. To expand their fan base, "Alive" was released as a free digital download in mid 2009.
Rootz Underground's latest effort "Gravity" is solid from start to finish. The session begins with an excerpt from a speech given by Haile Selassie transitioning smoothly into Power To The People, a horn -infused ballad dedicated to the oppressed nations of Africa. "In this yah world wide struggle, ah mi say power to my people". Up next is a powerful roots track addressing the overlooked Unknown Soldier fighting for Rastafari and the philosophies of the movement. The music for this track is reminiscent of "Heathen" by Bob Marley and The Wailers aside from the strong horn section that would make Winston Rodney proud.
Jah Love (is the solution) is a soulful tune with a Rootz one- drop only the Underground could accomplish, stressing "If you don't know Jah, you don't know love."
 Modern Day Jericho is an instant stand -out track on the album. The tune builds from jazzy, soft roots with a powerful organ loop to a rock- infused message of "Clinging so long to wrong, you cant let go." Stressing the importance of rebellion against the wicked system placed on society by the powers that be. "Can't let the warrior down, our warriors stand strong."
Stephen passes the vocal torch over to rhythm guitarist Jeffrey Moss-Solomon on the track History.  A gripping story of government corruption and of a society persuaded by so -called leaders, Solomon's delivery is powerful and militant amidst Leon Campbell's hard- hitting drums. Rastaman Experience will catch the ears of almost any music listener. It's set to a heavy rock guitar and infectious bass line that only Rootz Underground could birth. Asking Who is to be blamed for the endless killings and struggling? "This is a piece about the rastaman experience/ I walk the streets of the pain, the song remains the same."
"Gravity" turns slightly upbeat on a tune consisting of a rock guitar loop, and jazzy undertones sure to attract non -reggae listeners. The melodica solo is a great addition to a positive message about never stopping the Rootz Underground movement until they Fly Away from babylon.
A flawless transition takes you down the Streets. This powerful Boomshot addresses the petty violence that plagues the streets of the entire world and begs the future generation to "not be blind and read between the lines. Jah love reveals the sign." President Mandela leads you to the next track addressing the world leaders as Raging Bull. The music for this track is reminiscent of early Steel Pulse, a sound soothing to the ears of any reggae listener. The lyrics are thrown with fire straight from Stephen's soul.
Enlighten Me is a solid effort on a dub, pop sound reminiscent of Pato Banton in the days with the Mad Professor. Again Stephen passes the vocal duties to Jeffrey for some very intellectual lyrics that will make you think about the state of the world.
Waiting For You gives the listener the pleasure of a smooth vocal delivery by Jeffrey Moss-Solomon on a lovers rock serenade. Searching, a tune dedicated to the careless living of humanity, is a desperate plea to search within yourself for the will to do better and find Jah love; a somewhat similar sound to 20 Centuries from their last album. Marching On begins with the voice of a drill sergeant leading his troops before the driving piano takes hold. The strong acoustic guitar leads all instruments in this powerful plea to continue on the journey no matter how hard the fight against you may get. The session ends with Rocket, a powerful, saxophone- infused chant decrying poverty with it's derivatives of violence and hunger while at the same time shining the spotlight on the not -so- important priorities of world leaders.
Many reggae bands, Jamaican or not, are leaning more towards the sound of rock, jazz, soul, and in some cases even punk, in order to create mass appeal. It is quite obvious with this release and their debut 'Movements' that Rootz Underground appreciates and thus incorporates these same influences (save for the punk) into their music. While other bands put forth great effort and sometimes are able to develop a somewhat unique sound, no one can touch the authenticity of Rootz Underground. Although Stephen Newland's voice sounds strained at times, it allows the listener to feel the pain and soulfulness in his delivery.  On "Gravity" these born-Jamaicans do what they do best: Play Roots, Rock, Reggae music!                   Highly Recommended!  -DownTown


 Track Listing:
1. H.I.M Intro
2. Power to the People
3. Unknown Soldier
4. Jah Love (is the only Solution)
5. Modern Day Jericho
6. History
7. Rasta Man Experience
8. Fly Away
9. Streets
10. President Mandela Interlude
11. Raging Bull
12. Enlighten Me
13. Waiting For You
14. Searching
15. Marching On
16. Rocket
17. Time is an Illusion (Dub Remix)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Niyorah 'Feel Your Presence' Review (Denkenesh Records)

Nigel 'NiyoRah' Olivacce was born on October 9, 1980 in the coastline village of Pointe Michel, Dominica. At age 4, he moved to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands with his family and cultivated an interest in music through listening to artists in his father's and uncle's roots reggae collections, including Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, and Lucky Dube. By age 16, NiyoRah began chanting on the streets about the life experiences of the Savan ghetto in downtown Charlotte Amelie.
At age 18, NiyoRah decided to pursue a career in reggae music. "Reggae had one of the greatest influences on my life. It's the type of music I cling to for some mystical reason," he says. It has proved to be a wise decision. NiyoRah has been one of many catalysts that have revived the somewhat inert world of roots reggae over the past 10 years. With 3 more than solid albums to his credit (2005's 'A Different Age', 2006's 'Purification Session', and 2008's 'Stolen Scrolls'.) he has established himself as a viable commodity in the modern roots-reggae movement.
His latest effort, 'Feel Your Presence' finds NiyoRah in fine form once again. Produced and recorded in part at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica by acclaimed reggae producer Andrew “Bassie” Campbell, the album features a range of classic musicians and artists such as Earl “Chinna” Smith, Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, Sugar Minott, and Jah Mason. This unique combination of Niyorah’s cutting edge lyrical depth and Andrew Bassie’s classic, live-instrumentation riddims has yielded a 14-track roots masterpiece.
No Guts No Glory sets the album ablaze from the very beginning. NiyoRah has always impressed with his intelligent and topical lyrics and he does not disappoint here. His inventiveness and creativity are in full bloom throughout 'Feel Your Presence'. The rapid lyrical sparring between NiyoRah and Jah Mason on Bruk Down Barrier is brilliantly intense. Feel Your Presence is superb in lyrics and flow. The pulsating, bass-heavy riddim is a perfect backdrop for Niyorah's conscious subject matter. Capture The Moment is another excellent track. Smooth delivery, with an interaction between NiyoRah and his back-up singers that gives the tune a really nice dimension. Simply put, Turn Around The Garrison is a Boomshot! NiyoRah's message, a call for unity in the streets, is a timely reminder. Backbone reflects an extreme appreciation for NiyoRah's Empress. He encourages other men to treat their 'Royal Highness' as he would, with a foot rub, flowers, juice, and ackee pate. NiyoRah shifts gears with the hard-hitting The Day The Dollar Died.
Inspired by biblical prophecy, he speaks of a time where money will be worthless and only love will prevail.
Propaganda is another big tune. NiyoRah denounces the 'dutty government' and the pestilence they dispense to the masses by way of the media. Stolen Legacy is another scathing message delivered with a defiant tone in NiyoRah's voice. Veteran Jamaican crooner Sugar Minott lends his distinctly smooth voice to the retro combination- style tune World Jungle. NiyoRah handles the role of deejay perfectly.
The unique, percussive, and smart Indigenous World closes a truly masterful set.
'Feel Your Presence' is absolutely NiyoRah's most compelling album to date. He has continued to progress and grow as a singer, deejay, and lyricist. There is a welcome, refreshing variety to his songs. The music is original, true to form, and top notch. What makes the music even better is that NiyoRah delves into a wide range of issues with his lyrics, including cultural living, love for nature, strengthening of all peoples, and spiritual growth. You will be hard-pressed to find a songwriter as intelligent and inventive as NiyoRah. That talent is expressly evident on 'Feel Your Presence'. ESSENTIAL!



NiyoRah 'Feel Your Presence' -Denkenesh Records by The Reggae Review

Track Listing:
1. No Guts No Glory
2. Bruk Down Barrier featuring Jah Mason
3. Feel Your Presence
4. Capture the Moment
5. Close Call
6. Turn Around the Garrison
7. Backbone
8. No One Go Round the Track
9. The Day the Dollar Died
10. Propaganda
11. Stolen Legacy
12. World Jungle featuring Sugar Minnott
13. From Since When
14. Indigenous World

Friday, July 09, 2010

Romain Virgo Album Review (VP)

Born on January 24, 1990 and growing up in the small Stepney District in the parish of St. Ann, about a mile from Bob Marley's Nine Mile birthplace, Romain Virgo made history in 2007 by becoming the youngest person to win the Digicel Rising Stars competition. Now 3 years, an EP, and several singles later he presents his long-awaited and highly-anticipated debut album for VP Records. On this self-titled record Romain has teamed up with legendary producer Donovan Germaine of Penthouse Records on 10 of the 15 tracks.
The album begins with a big tune bubblin over the 'I Feel Good' riddim from Penthouse entitled Mi Caan Sleep. This was a definite indication of Romain's talent when it surfaced in early 2009 and ended up being one of the most popular tunes on the riddim. The massive hit Who Feels It Knows It on the 'Serve and Protect' riddim, again from Penthouse, continues the album's blistering pace. Impressive is the fact that Virgo can pen such a meaningful, emotive tune at such a young age. He shows a maturity well beyond his 20 years throughout the record. Love Doctor is silky smooth as Romain transitions perfectly into romancing the ladies while riding Germain's 'Automatic' riddim.
Taking You Home is a powerful tune on the 'Big Stage' riddim, the latest project from Penthouse. Romain proves that chivalry is alive and well as he promises to comfort and cherish a victim of domestic abuse. Big Tune... Big Riddim... Boomshot!!
As The Money Done cautions the guys to keep their financial affairs to themselves or be prepared for the gold diggers to leave when the dollars are gone. Should I Call Her, and Wanna Go Home are both solid love tunes produced by the talented Darwin and Omar Brown of Vikings Productions.
Vikings Productions can lay claim to a Boomshot with the classic Walking Out On You. Virgo laments the fact that he's caused his lady so much pain. He recognizes she deserves much better and decides to be a man and walk away. Romain's inspiration for the song is apparent as the refrain from the David Ruffin hit 'Walk Away From Love' is used with great effect.
Shane C. Brown of Juke Boxx lends his talents on Live Mi Life. An updated version of the 'Boops' riddim provides the backdrop for a responsible tale about Virgo's determination to provide for his family without resorting to a life of crime.
If showing his versatility was the aim on the dancehall tune Customer Care than Romain hit a bulls eye! His rapid-fire delivery is reminiscent of some of the tunes Surpize, a.k.a. Wayne Wonder, has done through the years on his albums for Penthouse.
The dynamic duo of Romain and Germain strikes again on the wicked tune No Money. He states emphatically that he will be no one's financier, especially leeches who wrongly assume his rise to fame and success was not a result of hard work and sacrifice.
Vikings gets credit for the brutally honest Murderer while two more Donovan Germain produced tracks, Be Careful and I'm Doing Good with fellow Rising Stars alum Cameal Davis, close out a superb set.
Romain Virgo's debut full length album is easily one of the best albums of 2010. This rising young talent shows tremendous poise, professionalism, and maturity on an album full of first class tunes. Unquestionably, these are tunes that the masses will be singing and dancing to for many years to come! ESSENTIAL!


Track Listing:
1. Mi Caan Sleep
2. Who Feels It Knows It  featuring Etana
3. Love Doctor
4. Taking You Home
5. As The Money Done
6. Should I Call Her
7. Wanna Go Home (Rain Is Falling)
8. Walking Out On You
9. Dark Skin Girl
10. Live Mi Life
11. Customer Care
12. No Money
13. Murderer
14. Be Careful
15. I'm Doing Good featuring Cameal Davis

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Story of a Song: Tarrus Riley's 'She's Royal'

'She's Royal' written as hurricane Emily approached

She's Royal, Tarrus Riley's paean to the inherent majesty of women which catapulted him from good singer to the A list of Jamaican recording and performing talent, was not written for a specific person.

And while Riley was working on the song as he waited out the impending Hurricane Emily at a friend's house, he was guided away from a chorus - and, most likely, the title, she's got it.
"The Rasta man them say, 'she's got what? We want the woman queen up and look up. We want them be positive'," Riley told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Me say, 'Alright, she's royal'," he said, and the chorus of the song-in-the-making was duly adjusted, flowing from a first verse that hinges on a respectful encounter between genders:
"No I never been someone shy
Until I seen your eyes
Still I had to try, yeah
Oh yes,
let me get my words right and then approach you
Woman I'll treat you like a man is suppose to
You'll never have to cry, no
I know everyone can relate to
when they find that special someone
And she's royal, yeah so royal
And, I want her in my life."
He already had the CD with the rhythm and was listening to it using a radio in Bamboo Lane, Duhaney Pen, St Thomas. "That was where I was sheltering from the storm that was to come," Riley said. "My yard couldn't manage the storm. Me did live in a board house." He had also already worked out a melody, but had no lyrics.
Positive feedback
But after working on the track that night, by the next morning She's Royal had been written.
There was immediate, positive feedback from very close by. "A little girl next door a cotch her ears and she wake up next morning and say, 'is the wickedes' tune!'. we all call her 'royal' before the song release," he said. She was 16 years old then and She's Royal was released on Riley's breakthrough 2006 Parables album.
She's Royal was recorded at Grafton Studios in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, and while Riley says, "I knew it was a wicked tune", he was not looking at it as such a hit. However, people in the studio felt that it was a special song - both of them, in fact, as Riley also recorded Something Strong that day.
One thing he was absolutely sure about, though, was "me did really like the message. She's royal, she's a queen. Me like that. Is not a song like 'girl I love you, you are number one, is how she strong, she's majestic, how she carry herself".
And as Riley sings the lines "the way she move to her own beat/she has the qualities of a queen, she's a queen," he contemplates, "If you really check the context of the song, it no have nothing to do with no individual."
And it seems that every woman adapts She's Royal as a personal anthem, making the song individual to her as Riley sings:
"What a natural beauty
No need no make-up to be a cutie
She's a queen, so supreme
And when they ask what a good woman's made of
She's not afraid and ashamed of who she is."
One of the first times Riley can remember performing She's Royal in Jamaica was at a staging of the Bling Dawg Summer Jam in Portland. "That was the first time, me sey. da tune ya big. Me haffi sing it over 100 time," he recalled. However, She's Royal became popular in the rest of the Caribbean first, so the earliest concert performances were outside Jamaica.
Then there was the Sumfest performance where Beenie Man, who was in the crowd, came up on stage and demanded a 'pull-up 'of the song - along with a 'hail' for his wife D'Angel.
He got it.- The Sunday Gleaner

A Roots Uprising

The Caribbean is a melting pot of cultures, people, and traditions. But Jamaica is credited with the birth of a genre of music that is said to have encompassed the world, and we call it reggae.
While the original messengers and prophets of the sound of reggae, such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and Garnet Silk, are no longer with us, modern day musicians are taking on the mantle of spreading those sounds.
The Uprising Roots Band, often noted as one of the more authentic reggae roots bands in Jamaica, continues to spread the sounds and positive vibrations of reggae music through their songs and performances all over the world.
The band is readying to release their debut album later this year, something that the entire Uprising Roots Band family is excited about. From their east Kingston studio, the band has released three singles which are enjoying regular rotation in reggae-loving regions of the Caribbean, Europe and North America.
The singles, Brightest Light, Skyfiya, and Know Yourself are shining examples of what the band is all about.
A five-piece-Rastafarian outfit, the band remains true to their love of music - which dummer and lead vocalist Rashawn 'Blackush' McAnuff says is an integral part of their formula for success.
Love for music
"Everybody in the band loves music. Just the sounds that come out of the instruments and the way we, as a group, can make that work and make those sounds into music. That, for us, is what everything is all about," McAnuff said.
The Uprising Roots Band is a complement of a talented set of musicians, who are really very much in love with the many ways they can please the ear, uplift the mind, and soothe the soul with their music and creativity, which is what McAnuff thinks makes their music "real and true reggae".-The Gleaner