This first release from Jago – vocalist with respected production team Hylu and Jago – gives us three different takes on a fine roots track The Wicked Try. Jago has previously featured as part of the onlyjoe reggae/dub outfit from the studios of Unit 137 (see previous reviews on reggaemusic.org.uk, most recently 16 June 2013). He is now carving out a distinctive name for himself in both recording and performance, with the prospect of a forthcoming debut album. This is the initial single release. Featuring also the sound system and DJ/MC talents of Serocee, Ghost Writerz and Junior Dangerous, The Wicked Try is a strong vocal excursion that can readily bear the weight of the two further versions to which it is subject here.

The first of these – a remix from DJ Vadim – is a full-on recasting of the original track, breaking it down into its component instrumental and vocal elements before returning to the repeating vocal anthem. With a hip-hop feel alongside the core reggae rhythm, it closes with some assertive electronic instrumentation which hints at the dubstep direction it could plausibly have taken. The second reworking on offer here is a dub version, rounding things off with a thoroughgoing deconstruction of the track. With elements of vocals and instrumentation fading in and out of the mix, the distinctive cross-genre studio skills of producer The Sea are evident, using his considerable engineering and production experience in Jamaica and London to powerful effect.

Issued on the Hundred Years label – a new platform for contemporary reggae/hip-hop output – it is well worth catching up with this release as a convincing example of the positive direction of UK reggae.

Jago: The Wicked Try; Hundred Years Records 12” vinyl/digital; released December 2013

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