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

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