Extra Love: Big Man EP

Extra LoveThe latest EP from Manchester band Extra Love has the full and expansive sound you might expect from this ten-piece outfit, featuring vocals, guitar, bass, trumpet, sax, trombone, keyboards, synths, drums and percussion. Comprising four tracks, the EP kicks off with ‘Wake Up’, a big-band performance track with influences from blues and soul on top of the driving reggae rhythm, with electric guitar solo striving to make itself known alongside the assertive brass instrumentation. This is followed by the title track, a slower roots reggae vocal and rhythm track, building up in a deliberate style toward a conclusion influenced by both rock guitar and dub. ‘Love Vibration’  starts with percussive keyboard then launches into a strong melodic band performance. (Extra Love? Love Vibration? Is this the reincarnation of Barry White?). Matters are concluded with ‘500 Years’, a roots excursion around Babylon in the classic style with strong brass instrumentation and a pleasing melodic structure. This is a fine release of strong reggae music with a nod to history and more than a glance to other genres: there are influences of soul, Afrobeat and jazz in this very live-sounding, full-on, and melodically strong reggae sound

Extra Love have established a reputation for themselves in and beyond North-West England and have played alongside no less than the Beat, Rico Rodriguez, Finley Quaye and many other key performers in ska and reggae, and have latterly launched their own night in Manchester. This music is clearly meant to be heard live.

Major Lazer: Jessica

Thinking about the major releases of 2013 we need to give some space here to Major Lazer’s album ‘Free the Universe’ and, more specifically, its stand out track Jessica. ‘Free the Universe’ was the second album from Major Lazer, the DJ/reggae/dancehall alter ego of producer Diplo and his crew of collaborators. With Jessica they get hold of one of the finest rocksteady rhythms ever and, with a deep bass subterranean mix, fashion it into something else entirely. Along with striking and melancholy vocals from no less than Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig this is a truly definitive track.

The original rhythm, from Carl Dawkins’ Satisfaction, is worth hearing in its own right. Satisfaction was a UK single release from Trojan Records in 1970 and was released on various other labels internationally. Its B-side ‘version’, Poppy Cock, lets you hear the non-vocal rhythm. And, if you are really interested in reggae archaeology, you could even track down Carl Dawkins’ Stand Tall Sound Dub, his later version over the same rhythm. Yo! as George Dubya would doubtless say if he heard this (the only President, thus far, with Dub to his name).