Hylu and Jago (featuring Zico): Vibe (ReDub)

From the production duo that brought us the Anansi Riddim EP (see reggaemusic.org.uk 25th July) this free download is the fourth release from Unit 137. ‘Vibe’ is a ‘ReDub’ of the original garage track previously issued on Black Butter records. This time round, featuring Zico on vocals, it’s a slow-burning dubbier reworking, resolving itself along the way into a melancholy reggae treatment of the rhythm, before fading out into its final instrumental conclusion. Released August 2012, you can look and listen here:

Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler

Hot on the heels of the single release of ‘Got Your Money’/’Wet Dream’ (see reggaemusic.org.uk 5th August) here is the full realisation of Prince Fatty’s latest fantasy which is apparently inspired by sources including ‘Kung Fu, vintage public service announcements and dub’.  As well as both tracks from the single, there are another eight assertive tunes to be found here, featuring, amongst others, Horseman, Hollie Cook, Dennis Alcapone and legendary Pioneers member, George Dekker. The album opens with ‘King Fu Battle ina Brixton’, an alarming prospect indeed for any London commuter, with the distinctive vocal contribution of Horseman leading the way and a curious guitar solo straight out of some unspecified previous decade. Next up is the classic ‘Ali Baba’. Some fainthearts might understandably be nervous of tackling this afresh, but this is a fine version. Beginning and ending with an announcement in received BBC pronunciation from another time, possibly another planet, ‘Ali Baba’ finds Winston Francis and the ever reliable Dennis Alcapone making themselves known atop a sharp dubbed-up rhythm track. ‘For Me You Are’, with Hollie Cook and Horseman, will be familiar to those who have already heard Hollie Cook’s excellent debut album and its Prince Fatty dub version (see reggaemusic.org.uk 29th April). It remains a particularly strong track with its definitive Fatty dub rhythm unrelenting throughout –  Hollie Cook and Horseman’s treatment of the sparkly disco-era ‘And the Beat Goes On’ is also revisited here. ‘Go Find a Fool’, featuring Winston Francis, is treated with the respect it deserves and what a pleasing sound, its dub fading to an old-school conclusion of forlorn love. By contrast, ‘Barbarina’ offers fast-paced dub in a vintage style with Dennis Alcapone again prominent in the mix. ‘Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler’ is a vital and at times amusing album that generally refuses to behave itself. In fact, it could almost be described as a mix of Kung Fu, vintage public service announcements and dub…

Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler, Mr Bongo label, release 17th September 2012

Toots and the Maytals: Unplugged on Strawberry Hill

Recorded at Chris Blackwell’s glorious tropical Strawberry Hill overlooking Kingston, this is an unfamiliar unplugged stripped-down Toots. Accompanied by a small gathering including his two daughters on vocals and his son on bass, this sparse treatment breathes new life into songs that have been heard and performed countless times over the years. ‘Pressure Drop’ for instance seems to become stronger by a simple instrumental background from a strummed reggae acoustic guitar, while a slowed-down ‘Time Tough’ gets a heartfelt treatment reminiscent of the soul greats from the Stax era. The twelve tracks have a live and unpolished quality, and within these you will of course find the songs you’d have a right to expect including Funky Kingston, Sweet and Dandy, 54-46 Was My Number and the tune that started it all, Do the Reggay. The CD is released together with a bonus DVD documentary – ‘Reggae Got Soul’ – including live Toots footage from German television’s Rockpalast in 1981.

If you are quick, you may still catch Toots in live concert at the Beacons Festival (17th-19th August) in glorious tropical Skipton, Yorkshire.

Toots and the Maytals: Unplugged on Strawberry Hill, released August 2012

Lee Perry

The unique Lee Perry is due for a live session at Fibbers, York, on Saturday 27th October 2012. Who knows what that’ll be like but it should be worth investigating. Probably a good idea to check details and date before then. Meantime here is a reminder of Lee Perry in action in 1982.

Prince Fatty: Got Your Money

Prince Fatty’s distinctive fast-paced dub-production approach to some surprising tracks from a previous era was heard to great effect on his dub mix of Hollie Cook’s debut album (see review on reggaemusic.org.uk  29th April 2012). Here he crops up again with his unique reggae perspective on ‘Got Your Money’, previously the slightly plodding province of the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB), the former Wu-Tang Clan rapper himself. In its original incarnation this was instantly recognisable mainstream hip-hop, musically and lyrically. Here, Hollie Cook provides the female vocal input, along with Horseman in the ODB role. Implausibly enough, Prince Fatty (Mike Pelanconi) has turned it into something closer to an uptempo dancehall anthem with Hollie Cook’s vocal contribution sounding surprisingly sweet in the chorus. This will be the lead track on Fatty’s forthcoming album ‘Prince Fatty Versus the Drunken Gambler’, due for September launch. As if that were not enough, the single is backed with Prince Fatty’s visitation upon that old Max Romeo song ‘Wet Dream’. Released originally in 1968 and banned by BBC radio, at that time the only music station legally transmitting, it has since been endured at many a wedding function, suggesting that Max Romeo’s alleged explanation that it was really about a leaking roof above his bed was less than accurate. This mix has some delightful vintage percussive keyboard, excellent dub production, along with the distinctive whooping contribution of Dennis Alcapone at key moments and there appears to be a cat in the mix somewhere. The multi-tracked vocals fit the song just right. Both tracks feature the Studio One veteran George Dekker and the production values are as good as it ever gets. On both tracks there’s something light and amusing about all this; it’s music that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is all the better for that.

Prince Fatty: Got Your Money/Wet Dreams, Mr Bongo label, release 6th August