With tour dates coming up in Britain, France, Holland and the USA, plus a forthcoming new album due for release, things are on the up for Hollie Cook (see reggaemusic.org.uk 15 October 2017, 9 July 2014, 29 April 2012). Here’s a video for ‘Angel Fire’ in a gig she did for Amnesty International this Autumn in London. Great stuff.
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.
To coincide with Lee Stratch Perry’s 80th birthday this new film is a celebration of his massive and eccentric contribution to reggae. It can be seen via UK film screenings around the country in February and March, and subsequently through DVD and Video On Demand (iTunes, Amazon Prime, Netflix). Mr Perry will also perform live at some UK dates in March.
If you are reading this you will already be familiar with Lee Perry’s unique musical career, starting with his work for Clement Coxsone Dodd’s label in the late 1950s, a further apprenticeship at Joe Gibbs’s Amalgamated Records, before setting up his own label (and eponymous house band) the Upsetter in 1968. He built the legendary Black Ark Studio in 1973 where he produced records for no less that Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Byles, Junior Murvin, The Heptones, The Congos and Max Romeo. Along the way he pretty much created what we came to know as dub and at the time of writing he’s still going strong.
Vision of Paradise is directed by Volker Schaner who followed Perry around Jamaica, Ethiopia, Switzerland and London to the point where he could gain an insider’s perespective on Perry’s idiosyncratic world. The film includes footage of Perry himself and of a stellar cast of dub/reggae musicians together with original animated scenes by the artist Maria Sargarodschi, drawn from different elements of Perry’s psychic world. There is also a look inside Lee Perry’s remarkable ‘laboratory’ in Switzerland, now destroyed by fire, but recorded here forever. The DVD version includes a host of extras, including a book and some deleted scenes. In whatever format, this release takes us inside a completely unique world.
Lee Perry: Vision of Paradise; release March 2016
Here’s a great new 7” single release from London’s Kiko Bun (Federico Marin), a short and to-the-point reggae song with a retro feel. Recorded in New York, its location allowed the involvement of Ticklah – associate of the Easy Star All Stars – at the production desk and he adds a characteristically busy and deep bass-oriented sound. This is especially evident on the ‘B’ side – ‘Where I’m From (I Remember How to Dub)’ – where the dub sound is set free to follow the rhythm wherever it goes. It’s a song that is bound to be revisited and remixed as time goes on, as is already evident in the Tom Misch remix which transforms a neat reggae tune into something more akin to jazz.
View footage of Kiko Bun and Ticklah in the studio:
Kiko Bun: Where I’m From, released vinyl/DDL on Island label.
Competing ideological forces in Mali can make it a difficult and dangerous place to follow a musical path. For this reason the members of Songhoy Blues redeployed south from Timbuktu to the capital city, Bamako, in order to continue their work. “We had no idea that one day we could be forbidden from playing music, because music is universal,” says Aliou Toure, the group’s lead singer. They soon came to the attention of Damon Albarn, no stranger to Mali music and ‘world music’ more generally, and the desert band’s world suddenly became bigger, playing at several European festivals and also featuring on the excellent Maison des Jeunes, an album that Albarn and Africa Express recorded in Bamako. The lead single from that album – Soubour – features the Songhoy Blues along with Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and shows just what the band can do.
A welcome UK tour by Songhoy Blues starts January 24th 2015 in Glasgow, and (at the time of writing) these are the scheduled dates:
For this new hardback book, Ghana-born Belgian writer Joel Savage has interviewed some of the bigger names in recent and contemporary reggae, including Anthony B, Joseph Hill-Culture, Gregory Isaacs, U-Roy, Capleton, Julian Marley, Prince Malachi, Luciano, Lucky Dube, Julian Murvin, Andrew Tosh, ASWAD, Live Wyya, Seun Kuti, Femi Kuti, Faytinga, Manu Dibango, and Tutu Puoane. According to the information release: “In this book the writer speaks to some of the masters behind contemporary reggae and African music. The influence and impact of these great musicians is internationally known and is recounted with warm, sincere, and unrivalled craftsmanship that distinguishes them in the music world”. Alongside this is a photographic record of some of their reggae performances which helps to bring the topic alive.
Published by virtualbookworm.com publishing, September 2013
Reggae harmony masters the Mighty Diamonds are due to tour the UK in October, alongside the release of Pass the Knowledge, part of VP Record’s Reggae Anthology series. The release features 40 of their best tracks, many on CD for the first time including some previously unreleased dubplate exclusives. A DVD of The Mighty Diamonds live at Reggae Sunsplash is also set to be included.
Touring with the venerable Mighty Diamonds are French rhythm section the Handcart Band. Dates and venues below.
With Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett still providing a firm link to their glorious past, the current incarnation of the Wailers is due to tour the UK in the Autumn. Following the fashion in rock for performing classic albums live, this time round they are due to perform ‘Legend’ in its entirety so it is essentially a greatest hits kind of event.
Together with Aston “Family Man” Barrett on bass, the current Wailers line-up features Duane “Danglin’” Anglin on lead vocals, Keith Sterling on keyboards, Zeb “Drummy” Williams on drums, Audley Chisholm on rhythm Guitar, Aston Barrett Jr. on percussion/keys, and on backing vocals Cegee Victory. Over the years they have continued to play live to a wide variety of audiences, including playing in the Stone Roses’ Heaton Park shows in 2012.
If the Wailers sound anything like as committed and vibrant as they did in their UK shows three years ago (see reggaemusic.org.uk 24th August 2010) they’ll be worth seeing and hearing live this time round too.
Dates as notified at time of writing, tickets on sale 5th July:
September: 26th Glasgow, O2 ABC; 27th Newcastle, O2 Academy; 28th Manchester, Ritz; 29th Sheffield, O2 Academy 1; 30th London, The Indigo O2
October: 2nd Oxford, O2 Academy 1
UB40 provoke mixed reactions. For some, their legacy of covering songs from the received reggae tradition as well as writing their own material has brought the music to a far wider audience than reggae previously enjoyed. For others, their style of reggae-lite verges on MOR drive-time background listening. Whatever assessment is offered, along the way they have released some tracks that deserve an honourable mention in any complete history of reggae. You might say: like what? Well, like the 12” version of ‘The Earth Dies Screaming’ with its powerful bass-led ‘version’ preceding rather than following the vocal track and enough reverb and echo to keep anyone happy. As well as its cheery lyrics of course. And the very early ‘King’ which uniquely managed to combine thoughtful reggae and even a dub into a 4 minute pop single.
So, here they are with the first new album release for three years, featuring Duncan Campbell as lead singer (he replaced brother Ali Campbell in 2008). Otherwise the membership is largely that of the original band, dating from 1978. The album is a combination of original songs and covers, the latter drawn, perhaps surprisingly, from country music, including George Jones’ ‘Getting Over The Storm’, Jim Reeves’ ‘He’ll Have To Go’, Willie Nelson’s ‘Blues Eyes Crying In The Rain’ and Vince Gill’s ‘If You Ever Have Forever In Mind’. “It’s not a country album, though.” states further brother Robin Campbell. “It’s a UB40 album. It’s a reggae album. We’ve just covered some country tunes.” It also includes the rather topical ‘How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?’ which most people will know from Ry Cooder’s 1970s reworking of a song from the Great Depression era.
The band are due to tour in the UK in September, coinciding with the album’s release. A limited edition version of the album is also advertised as available from here. “Limited to just 200 copies, the album will include a 12×12 poster signed by the band” according to their press release.
The contribution of the Congos to reggae is well-understood and well-documented. Their classic album Heart of the Congos (1977) is still held in awe as a reggae landmark (reggaemusic.org.uk 18th September 2009) while more recent dub reworkings (see reggaemusic.org.uk 19 May 2012) continue to attract attention. Plus they still perform live, with undiminished force. Now you can catch the Congos, with the unique voice of Cedric Myton up front, at the Jazz Cafe, Camden, on 26th June, a most inviting prospect.
Not long after, July 6th sees the London launch of the Prince Fatty Rub a Dub Club in Brixton, accompanied by the esteemed Trojan Sound System, along with the sounds of Hollie Cook, Horseman, Dennis Bovell, Jabbawocky HiFi, The Minister of Blaxploitation (AKA Moody Boyz) and (it is promised) more…Fatty’s tracks are mixed live and analogue with all the reverb, echo and tricks of 70s dub technicians that you might hope for, while the visitations upon ska, dub, dancehall and bass from the Trojan Sound System speak for themselves. Mightily impressive dub releases from producer Prince Fatty have been covered on these pages before (eg, reggaemusic.org.uk 22 October 2012) and here this uplifting retro/forward-facing live dub sound hits the streets of Brixton. Better lively up yerself then!
Wednesday 26th June 2013, The Congos at the Jazz Cafe, Camden, £15 advance; doors 19.00.
Saturday 6th July 2013, Prince Fatty Rub a Dub Club, 22:00 – 04:00, Brixton Jamm, £8 advance, more on the door.
Details as notified at time of writing – check first.