Here is the second full album release of new material from London’s ‘The Manor’. Recorded at the Catch a Fire studio in London, it’s produced by Brad Turner and Gibsy Rhodes, and released on Smash N Grab, Gibsy Rhodes’ subsidiary label of Springline Jamaica. Last year’s well-received ‘Community Rocker’ by Yabass (see reggaemusic.org.uk 12th January 2013) was also released on Smash N Grab and that already high standard is easily matched here.
The overall mood of ‘Duppy Call’ is roots reggae with a melodic inspiration and a feeling of live instrumentation, but it is very far from being MOR reggae-lite. There’s a raw urgency and immediacy to the tracks on here and a sense of music being played rather than sounds being processed.
The album opens with ‘Jamming through the Night’, a mainstream live-reggae instrumental workout with echoing drum in the background, prominent guitar, sounding very much like the introduction to a live show just before the main act comes on – which in a sense it is as we hit the vocals of the second track, ‘Duppy Call’, a Marleyesque roots song in the classic style with some slightly unnerving background sounds (fitting the theme of the song) and a fine dub interlude. The pattern of instrumental and vocal tracks is repeated throughout. ‘Hard Work’ features vocals along with an instrumental dub sensibility, ‘I Know Jah’ is characterised by its powerful spiritual vocal treatment, while ‘Rocker’ is a strong instrumental.
‘So Fine’ is another great instrumental, with its skanking guitar and subdued guitar breaks mixed quite far back, and a loping sort of rhythm keeping it all together. That familiar image of the ‘Downpressor Man’ is represented here as a slowed-down melodic roots excursion with crystal-clear production. Like the album as a whole it seems to capture a live performance sound effectively in the studio. ‘Roots Rock Vibe’ is pretty much an accurate description. This collection closes with ‘Earth Roots’, a deliberate, almost stately, instrumental conclusion to the album, with a pronounced dub feel.
As a whole the album sounds live and immediate, with its melodica-styled instrumentation drifting over many of the tracks. Its sympathetic production complements the songs, making it one of the strongest releases from the Springline stable so far.
The Manor ‘Duppy Call’ released on Smash N Grab, 4th November 2013.