Tired of all the stereotypes? All record companies are inherently evil. There usually is only one good track to an album. All good reggae comes from Jamaica. Then check out Crucial Reggae from Outside Jamaica [Skank Productions]. A roots reggae compilation of some very gifted artistes like Nasio, Ossie Dellimore, Abja, and Ankh Watep just to name few. All of which hail from places like Canada, Dominica, and the Virgin Islands. There is a hefty booklet with the CD that is a comprehensive tribute to the featured musicians, complete with lyrics, brief background on all the songs and artistes, as well as the pictures of the album covers that the songs originally debuted on (makes it easier to find them on the rack).
The album kicks off with a tune called “Clear Night” by Mongoose. Their smooth harmonies, tight brass section and steady rhythms set the tone for the rest of the album. Next, Groundation’s “Something More,” with the lead singer Harrison Strafford’s raspy sound, is a very understandable choice. Projected with some melodious chants and backed by a band that doesn’t need a singer, Groundation is a true reggae powerhouse. Nasio Fontaine has several tracks on this album: “Riding on”, “Apple”, and “Jah Won’t Forsake I” and his genuine lyrics and versatile vocals promise a personal delivery every time. Ossie Dellimore’s “Downpressor Man” commands equal reverence as Peter Tosh’s take on this subject. “Behold,” by Junior Daniel, starts off so funky and simple with lyrical styling that makes this track sound classic. “Out of Control” by Ankh Watep, the vibrant call to consciousness of the contributions that Africans made throughout history, is delivered with no malice. Bambu Station’s contribution “Pass it” (not about ganja), brings up the very important topic of learning and passing it on, vital in a world bursting with misinformation and spin. Bobo Ites’ “Heathen Rage” showcases a modernly urban style of roots reggae that can reach listeners who don’t usually check the roots. “War” by Abja, is delivered in such a conversational style that everyone can feel included and understand the suffering we all face in times of war. Finally, with his crooning voice, Danny I’s “Soldier” could be found on an R&B album just as easily as he is on this one.
The title of this CD says everything about the album in its first word, Crucial. Opening the stereotypical Jamaican borders of reggae music original debut; hopefully this is the first of many future compilations featuring reggae artist world wide. This disc would make great gift for anyone who wants hear more roots and is tired of all the same old faces.
For more info and to listen to and purchase this disc, log onto www.skankproductions.com