Bunny Lee and Friends: Tape Rolling!

1233This excellent twenty-track compilation from Pressure Sounds features extended mixes and previously unreleased versions from reggae’s finest, complete with informative if idiosyncratic sleevenotes. All tracks are produced by Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and are reproduced here from the original vinyl records, featuring musicians including Carlton Barrett, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, Augustus Pablo, Tommy McCook and Vin Gordon. The album opens with Slim Smith’s ‘The Time Has Come’ in an unreleased version complete with false starts and an unadorned basic reggae rhythm. This is followed by an outstanding ‘Devil’s Brother in Law’ from I Roy and Augustus Pablo  where I Roy declaims  over the top of the source track, the Paragons ‘Left With a Broken Heart’. I Roy also brings us the fascinating unreleased ‘Noisy Place’ where he deejays his studio comments to King Tubby (‘Doctor Satan’) over a run-through of ‘Man Next Door’ (aka ‘Got to Get Away’), a track well-known from versions by Horace Andy (included here) and also by the Paragons, Dennis Brown or indeed Massive Attack.

Big Joe’s ‘Rasta Train’ is great deejaying with King Tubby at the mixing desk; Cornell Campbell contributes his sweet vocal sound to three unreleased tracks; King Tubby adds a quirky and infectious ‘Straight to the Copycat Head’ with basic fading in and out of instruments; and there’s a fine unsophisticated rhythm track behind Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’ (followed here by I Roy’s ‘Festival Mash Up’ of the same track). ‘Riding for a Fall’ (familiar to many perhaps from John Holt’s vocal version) is featured here dominated by Vin Gordon’s instrumentation, leaving just traces of the vocal track. But it’s very difficult to pick out standout tracks given the consistent overall quality of the music here. It’s all good. An excellent album.

Bunny Lee and Friends: Tape Rolling! single CD/double vinyl, Pressure Sounds/Attack

Tree House Fire: Coming in Hot

b5b2c79f-8148-469c-b568-f9ca922ec064Here’s a good dose of contemporary UK reggae from Tree House Fire with their new EP ‘Coming in Hot’. Influenced by the sounds of dub, reggae, ska and punk their sound is young and fresh, expanding from their origins in 2012 through the release of two albums (see reggaemusic.org.uk 4 August 2014) into a vibrant 5-piece band who have earned themselves quite a reputation. This new release kicks off with the gentle reggae rhythm and sparse instrumentation of ‘Major Rocket’, followed by the more upbeat sound of the title track. ‘What Matters Most’ is thoughtful melodic reggae, ’Stack It Up High’ has a relatively minimalist arrangement while ‘Hope’ is based on the contrasting rhythm of acoustic guitar. ‘Horizon Dub (Every Cloud)’ is a fine dub conclusion to the EP with a pleasing mix, led by its persistent bass. It seems like the band has evolved a mature sound that’s subtle and effective. Playing festivals in July, August and September there is a chance to hear them live as well as to enjoy this latest release.

Tree House Fire: Coming in Hot, release July 2016, CD and digital, Jamtown Recordings

Y-Bayani: Get Away

ph45007From the German label Philophon comes this new single ‘Get Away’ by reggae performer Y-Bayani and his Band of Enlightenment, Reason and Love. With his song ‘Asembi Ara Amba’, Y-Bayani has already featured on the respected debut album ‘Invisible Joy’ by the Polyversal Souls and this led to his first release under his own name. ‘Get Away’ is a light and up-tempo reggae song, backed-up on this single by the slower and more deliberate ‘Obar No Ni’. Both tracks were produced by Max Weissenfeldt and Stibbo Spitzmüller at Berlin’s Joy Sound Studios. This is the sound of Ghanian reggae music and is well worth a listen.

Y-Bayani: ‘Get Away’, single release July 2016, on Philophon (7” and digital)