Here is some fine Bristol hip-hop from Bison Theory, fronted by Jonny Steele from the Scribes (see reggaemusic.org.uk 22 October 2012, 3 February 2015 and 14 December 2015). The Long Ting EP features three tracks, kicking off with ‘Golden’, a smooth bit of hip-hoppery with a regular rhythm keeping it moving along nicely enough. ‘OK’ opens with up-front bass and a vocal refrain before another venture into rap, with a clean and clear guitar riff repeating all the way through. ‘Power’ is guitar-driven and angrier in the way it feels with a political theme pervading the music, bass and drums more upfront as it gets closer to the end. In summary, it’s British hip-hop informed by soul.

Bison Theory is a six-piece band, with Charlotte Coupland and Nikki Quinnen on vocals, Jack Dennis on guitar, Stevie Mac on bass and Dave Preece on drums alongside Jonny Steele. They have built up a formidable live energy, reinforcing the creative reputation of Bristol-based music. It’s no criticism to say the hip-hop sound herein is old-school and this release will encourage all who hear it to seek out more.

Bison Theory: Long-Ting EP, digital release June 2017.

English reggae man GT (Gerald) Moore released a couple of albums in the 1970s (and to the person who borrowed my copy of ‘GT Moore and the Reggae Guitars’ back then it would have been nice to see it again). It was in many ways a very English form of reggae, light and airy without the heavy sounds of dub or of studio trickery, and the track ‘Move it on Up’ was moderately well-known. Instrumentally of its time, it nonetheless had a certain authenticity to its feel.

Now GT Moore comes along with a re-release of an album originally let loose on the world in 1993. This album – ‘The Outsider Meets The High-Tech-Roots-Dynamics (at Channel One UK)’ – was the first album released by G.T. in conjunction with Rej Forte (aka Jah Works) and Martin Campbell, with the help of other musicians including Steve Swann from ‘The Revolutionary Dub Warriors’ on bass. First released in limited quantities on vinyl and CD, this new release of the album is in digital format and it makes the music widely available for the first time. GT Moore himself is the eponymous Outsider, basing his pseudonym on his time as a musician in Jamaica in the 1980s.

Musically the album is reminiscent of Augustus Pablo, consisting for the most part of instrumental melodica tracks. GT Moore comments that ‘most of the tunes are improvisations of rhythm tracks that I heard for the first time in the studio.’ Opening with ‘Alfa’, the mood of the twelve tracks is relaxed. For the most part the instrumental tracks are at a slow tempo, with ‘Warm Love’ summing up the sound of the album as a whole. Matters come to a conclusion with ‘Jerusalem Dub’, a fine laid-back dub sound that’ll be appreciated for its vintage reggae feel.

GT Moore: The Outsider Meets the High-Tech Roots Dynamics, digital release May 2017

Here’s a brand new album from family and spiritually-oriented American band Morgan Heritage who are currently coming to the end of their UK and European tour. There have been a number of single releases from the album already, including the most recent single ‘We Are’ and ‘Ready for Love’. Recorded in different studios around the globe, it’s an eclectic and optimistic album firmly inspired by the roots reggae tradition but with influences from further afield. There are fourteen tracks herein, kicking off with ‘Want Some More’ (featuring Mr Talkbox), its solid reggae rhythm proceeding at a pace reminiscent perhaps of Steel Pulse at their peak. ‘One Family’ which features Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley is interesting melodically, with a vintage reggae feel to the bass line – a great little track with a happy contagious mood.

On some tracks – particularly ‘Golden’ and to some extent the recent single ‘Ready for Love’  – there’s a soul/R and B feel and it becomes possible to imagine Lauryn Hill covering these enthusiastically. Elsewhere the musical balance is a little different: ‘Reggae Night’ and ‘Dream Girl’ are pop/reggae that it’s impossible to dislike. The album as a whole is laid-back in its overall tone with occasional flashes of an angrier feel as on ‘We Are’. All the tracks were written by the band and their vocal collaborators on different songs, with the exception of the final track ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’.

All in all, a great album of authentic contemporary roots reggae.

See previous feature on Morgan Heritage, reggaemusic.org.uk 1st May 2015

Morgan Heritage: ‘Avrakedabra’, release 19th May 2017 on the CTBC Music Label, CD/vinyl/digital formats

15. May 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: News

The second Positive Vibration – Festival of Reggae 2017 – is scheduled for 9th and 10th June across three venues in the Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool. The Friday session features Jah Shaka’s London-based roots reggae sound system while Saturday headliners are none other than the Selecter. There are soundsystems from Trojan and Soul Jazz labels, along with Saxon Sound System, Don Letts and Aba Shanti-I. Positive Vibration is a cultural as well as purely musical event, and there will be an art exhibition entitled, not unreasonably, the Art of Reggae. The festival is also due to feature panel debate with the Selecter’s Pauline Black, along with Mykaell Riley and guitarist Dennis Bovell.

Tickets from Skiddle.com. What a great way to work off the post-election blues.