Barefoot Bandit is an upcoming reggae and dub band from Devon. They have quickly established a strong live reputation, including festival appearances at Glastonbury and at Plymouth’s Volksfest. They have played alongside the likes of Professor Green and the Backbeat Sound System and have just released this, their debut EP entitled ‘Call Me a Liar’. The title track is strong melodically, the instrumental sound of the rock band format is simple but powerful, and it rocks along happily enough to its conclusion. Much the same could be said of ‘Polly’, tuneful and unadorned by any superfluous studio gimmickry. ‘Slug Dub’ is a straightforward dub sound based around a simple guitar riff, while ‘World’ opens with a drum and bass sound reminiscent of the Beat and evolves into a dubbish workout. ‘Blue Light Flashing’ features a sparse deliberate reggae rhythm and a nice wah wah guitar. All in all this is a great debut and should ensure that the Barefoot Bandit move on from respected live act to successful recording band.
Barefoot Bandit: ‘Call Me a Liar’ EP, Dubterranean Records, release 2nd October 2015
Being dubbed (so to speak) as the “best of British reggae” and “a very talented young band of players” by no less than David Rodigan gives any band a lot to live up to. Shanty’s reaction is to keep to the same successful course they have already embarked upon. Their new single is, as on previous releases (see reggaemusic.org.uk 29 September 2014), an upbeat brass-led danceable sound that captures the vocals of Ben Willis very effectively. This London band has established a formidable live reputation, playing alongside the likes of the Skints, Prince Fatty and Neville Staple, and they have captured that live feel in this new release. Instrumentally Shanty share the approach of the Specials but the mood is different: Shanty are a feel-good bunch. The sound of the band can best be described as the Specials without the doom and gloom.
This new multi-artist compilation features the seemingly immortal Lee Scratch Perry with an excellent collection of rare tracks, mostly unreleased until now. Billed here as ‘Lee Perry as the Upsetter’, Perry’s typical production sound is evident throughout these sixteen tracks, issued in single CD or double vinyl format. It all begins with George Faith’s classic ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, followed through with some little-heard sounds including Joy White’s original vocal on ‘Lay Besides You’. Other rarely played tracks include the dub plate mix of ‘Sun is Shining’ by the Upsetters, who also offer us a previously unreleased mix of ‘Police and Dub’. Augustus Pablo and the Upsetters provide a fine version of ‘Keep on Moving’. This all links back of course to the Marley tradition and to mainstream roots reggae. Everyone who values that reggae tradition, and who hasn’t yet had enough of Mr Perry, will find something worthwhile here.
Lee Perry as the Upsetter: Mr Perry I Presume; release October 2015 on Pressure Sounds, CD/vinyl
Here’s the Australian “reggae-infused” rock band with a new album. Starting out in 2009, the five-piece band have recently been touring in the UK and are now about to release their ‘Creatures of Leisure’ album, extending their fan base well beyond their native Queensland and building on the success of their debut album, ‘Chasing Sunsets’, released in 2012.
Floating Bridges enjoys a formidable live reputation and it seems that the new album was created via the band’s own jam sessions. The first single, ‘Dreamcatcher’, features reggae rhythms and a pounding rock guitar intro and breaks which the publicity material describes as akin to Jimi Hendrix, but in truth is more reminiscent of Jorma Kaukonen, no less, at his peak. Other songs, such as earlier single ‘Eloquence’, are straightforward heavy rock. It’s a mix. ‘Creatures of Leisure’ brings together reggae and rock in a way that is not always easy to accomplish and this difference alone makes it worthy of your attention.
The Floating Bridges: ‘Creatures of Leisure’ released on August 28th 2015
Jimmy Cliff’s appearance at the Riverside on 6th August was another chapter in his undiminished record as a great purveyor of classic ska and reggae. His voice remains strong, his movements across the stage rapid and seemingly accomplished with ease. The venue helped: bigger than a backroom club, smaller than an arena-scale theatre, it was the perfect setting, yards from the river and with views of three of the Tyne bridges close by.
Beginning with drum-based African-mode Bongo Man and Rivers of Babylon, the set went on to include all the songs you might expect, from the very early Miss Jamaica and King of Kings, through the UK hits You Can Get it if You Really Want, Wild World, the Harder They Come and Vietnam, and taking in Hard Road to Travel, Let Your Yeah be Yeah, and of course Many Rivers to Cross, the location adding poignancy to this last song. Musically the band was excellent, moving from song to song seamlessly, often without a break, and holding down the rhythm perfectly. The pitch and volume of the bass gave your internal organs something to think about while the backing singers complemented Jimmy perfectly. As the set moved on for not much less than two hours, the strongest moments were in the upbeat ska numbers where it is difficult to imagine anything much better.
It was a show where Jimmy Cliff knew how to interact with the (diverse and madly enthusiastic) audience and where he knew what they wanted. But, crucially, this wasn’t Elvis in Las Vegas. It wasn’t just a reprise of well-known tunes; it was real, and authentic. Playing in London tonight, and then in mainland Europe, see this if you can, as it really doesn’t get any better than this.