Currently playing dates throughout the UK, the nine-strong Moods are a Manchester band who succeed in blending hip-hop and dancehall influences with a political perspective on northern urban life. ‘Missing Peace’ is their forthcoming album and further strengthens their growing reputation.

Amongst individual tracks, ‘POP (People Over Profit)’ is fast uncompromising hip-hop, giving way to ‘Inception’, a reggae rhythm with hip-hop vocal sound and strong instrumentation. ‘Bad Boy’ takes us into grime and maintains the hard edge of the album. The debut single ‘Joy’ has a strong influence of drum and bass and is a melodic track with the potential to break through to new audiences. Given the overall style of this track and some of the others such as ‘Hidden’ it is almost possible to imagine the XX covering some of the songs, implausible though that may sound.  The title track, ‘Missing Peace’ is an effective reggae/hip-hop track in the band’s characteristic style, maybe the strongest song on the album. The publicity information for this release describes the band as Manchester’s ‘premier electro hip-hop reggae outfit’ who will ‘make you dance and then they’ll make you think’. That just about sums it up.

The band is due to return to their roots in September to launch the album at Manchester’s O2 Ritz on 8th September.

The Moods: Missing Peace, release 23rd September 2017 on A1 (M) Records

Here is Brooklyn boy Double Tiger (aka Jay Spaker) with his first solo album, a compilation of recordings from the past five years of writing. Just released on leading NY label Easy Star Records, ‘Sharp and Ready’ kicks off with the fast reggae rhythm of ‘Rocking Time’, a great start to this collection of twelve tracks. ‘Crème de Crème’ and ‘Babylon Expire’ follow up at a more sedate pace, but again firmly in the roots tradition. With strong vocals and relatively understated instrumental arrangements this is new music with the classic feel. ‘Live Life’ starts with some fine dub sounds before heading into a dancehall-influenced vocal, adding up to a particularly strong track. The title track, together with ‘Moonlight’, are instrumental workouts informed by dub, while ‘A Feelin’ borrows inspiration from the sound of soul. ‘Time Has Come’ echoes with the political demands for social justice, and the album closes with ‘Ram Dancehall’, a fine deejay-dancehall track. This is a happy release from an artist/producer steeped in the received message of reggae and with a track record of working with some of the reggae greats. It should propel Double Tiger to a deserved level of wider recognition.

Double Tiger: Sharp and Ready, released on Easy Star Records, 30th June 2017.

Hot on the heels of our review of Ghetto Priest’s excellent new album (see reggaemusic.org.uk 11th July 2017) here are details of two more recent or forthcoming releases from Ramrock Records which reinforce its reputation for bringing us the best in new reggae sounds. First, there’s the dancehall rhythm track from Jazzy Kitt himself given the lyrical treatment by Taz in the form of ‘Up Deh’ and from Camar Flava who offers us ‘Get Back Up’. Available on 7” vinyl release and on digital download, this is dancehall but without the hard and aggressive feel of its 80s and 90s origins, giving us something more gentle for soothing the soul.

Secondly, there’s the Dissent’s ‘Trust in Me’ EP, something very different from the Jazzy Kitt release. The Dissent brings us slow-paced reggae in the title track, reminiscent of the Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ era and similarly politically aware. What follows are a couple of dubs of Trust in Me, and then ‘Hypocrite’ – who on earth could they be thinking of? Proceedings close with ‘Je Ne Veux Pas Quitter’ which is what one might call unorthodox, opening with guitar, followed by spoken word French commentary, resolving into instrumental reggae. Unusual but great. Released digitally already, this one is scheduled for 12” vinyl release in September 2017. Congratulations to Jo at Ramrock on these vital sounds!

Here’s a new reissue 12” single of a track laid down many years ago by Jacob Miller and indeed by Yabby himself some considerable time ago. With the customary solid foundation of a rhythm section comprising Sly Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass, this version consists of four tracks starting with the vocal take from the late Yabby You (aka Vivian Jackson) followed by a great dub in the classic style. The other two tracks – credited to the ‘Jah Fingers all Stars’ – keep the rhythm rocking along in suitable fashion. Mastered by Nick Manasseh, this is great reggae music for those who know the track already as well as those who are hearing this for the first time.

Yabby You: I’m Just a Dread, released 2017 on the Jah Fingers label

Here comes Asian Dub Foundation frontman and sometime vocalist Ghetto Priest with his forthcoming solo album, produced by Adrian Sherwood. The lyrical concerns of this release are religious and spiritual in a broad sense, the title track making a plea for neighbourliness and community, with the other songs on the album lamenting the threat to the environment, the achievements of black women and the fall of Babylon. This includes a cover of Peter Tosh’s ‘Babylon Queendom’ and Judy Mowatt’s ‘Black Woman’. Perhaps most intriguing is an interpretation of Robbie Burns’ poem ‘I Murder Hate’, an unexpected but welcome contribution. Musically, the title track itself is optimistic melodic reggae, with a strong but gentle vocal sound and fine instrumentation, a great little reggae song. Its message is in the title; every man for every man, not every man for himself, a sentiment that remains unattractive to some of those with political power unfortunately.

From a troubled personal history, Ghetto Priest turned to Rastafarian belief and was steeped in the sound system culture of the 1980s before emerging as a roots performer in his own right. In 2011, he partnered Lucid Mover in the ‘Screaming Soul’ project, resulting in the ‘Ghost Inna Shell’ album and, a year later, its remixed counterpart, ‘Ghost Inna Dub’. In 2016, he released the single ‘Life Ain’t Easy’ based on Dennis Brown’s ‘Easy, Take It Easy’. This latest album is a fresh and uncompromising release, worth hearing for its take on the world around us.

Ghetto Priest: ‘Every Man For Every Man’: released 8th September 2017, Ramrock Records