After successfully launching West London label Shero Records Ltd in 2019, founder, singer and female producer Harmonie Dèja launches its series of music releases with a vital roots-reggae EP entitled ‘Herb Root Riddim’. It’s accompanied by a video showcasing a strong compilation of artists from Jamaica to the UK, extoling the virtues of peace, a gentle life and of course marijuana. The video introduces the personnel involved, culminating in Kitty Corbin (why didn’t she win the last election?). There’s a strong rhythm throughout before finally getting into a dub style for the final minute or so. This is powerful but gentle reggae music with excellent production values.
‘Herb Root Riddim’ features tracks from former Raging Fyah frontman Kumar, Jahkirk and Ras Tavaris as well as Kitty Corbin. Background vocals are added to each track by Harmonie Deja herself, who has previously toured alongside reggae greats including Susan Cadogan and Freddie McGregor. She demonstrates that women can overcome the barriers to success in a male dominated industry and this is indeed a passionate initial release.
It’s the perfect sound to sooth the soul during lockdown.
Harmonie Deja: Herb Root Riddim, Shero Records, release 20th April 2020.
Here’s the renowned UK artist General Levy with a great little fast-paced dancehall/ragga song ‘Jah Guide’, taken from the upcoming single-rhythm album ‘Africa We Want’. The album, from French label Conquering Records, features a host of performers including Anthony B., Skarra Mucci, General Levy, Queen Omega, Natty Jean, Sir Jean and last but not least Solo Banton in duet with BB Seaton – the original lead singer of the Gaylads whose 1967 Studio One song ‘Africa’ forms the basis for the rhythm track used throughout. Conquering Records is the label derived from the Conquering Sound team of selectors. Launched in 2016, the label was very successful with its initial release of ‘My Enemies Riddim’, released in 2017 and featuring the likes of Lutan Fyah. 2018 saw the release of the ‘Speed It Up’ single, issued on a maxi 45 with remixes done by some of the top names in the French dub scene. This great release from General Levy is the chance to get acquainted with the Conquering Records sound.
General Levy: Jah Guide, release April 2020
Jamaican performer Chronixx releases a new single this month in anticipation of his forthcoming second album ‘Dela Splash’ which is due for release later in 2020.
The single ‘Dela Move’ is the opening track from the album. The single has an earthy authentic instrumental feel before Chronixx pitches in with vocals over an adventurous rhythmic track. It is hard to classify but that’s no bad thing. It stands as an intriguing taste of what the album may be. Chronixx tell us that he wants to “harness the full artillery of sounds that have been passed forward to us through the works of the great Diaspora and African music innovators.”
Chronixx has played at many of the world’s leading festivals and it is fair to say he is opening-up new directions in music based in the roots tradition to new and appreciative audiences. The release for ‘Dela Move’ follows the recent announcement that Chronixx is due to be headlining at London’s Eventim Apollo on 12th October 2020, although with the Coronavirus disruption to international travel we can’t be sure!
Chronixx: ‘Dela Move’ release March 2020
The Skints have featured on these pages many times. It’s hard to believe that this punky reggae outfit from London have been active for more than a dozen years but here they are again with a fresh political edge on their single ‘The Island’. The title denotes the UK in a post-Brexit world, alone and dreaming in vain of glories in a world of Conservative fantasies.
The band says: “Well here we are. I feel there’s so much that’s been said already, and we’re all sick of it. There’s a million reasons to hate Brexit but to touch a personal note regarding The Skints; as working class musicians who until recently had the freedom to travel, live and work in the European Union as much as we liked, that right has been stripped from us against our will. It feels violating and isolating, so we wrote a song about it. Solidarity to all those whose lives are being negatively impacted much more than ours by this nightmare.”
The Skints’ debut album ‘Live, Breathe, Build, Believe’, released in 2009, was championed by BBC Radio 1’s Punk Show, whilst 2012’s ‘Part & Parcel’, the second full-length album by the band, further built their fan base and opened doors to extensive touring, festivals and markets outside of the UK and across Europe. The follow-up album, ‘FM’, released in 2015, reached number 5 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart and number 7 on the Independent Albums Chart in the UK, seeing The Skints tour relentlessly across the USA, Canada and Japan. You can check out earlier review of the band on these pages.
The band has a strong live reputation and has featured at some of the world’s biggest festivals, also receiving recognition in the form of the BBC 6 Music ‘Album of the Day’ and the playlist for earlier single ‘Armageddon’, a Billboard Reggae Charts #1 for the LP and the Independent Albums Breakers Chart. Their music has latterly gained even more in confidence, drawing from reggae, soul, dub, punk, hardcore and rap, bound together by their political and personal commitments to us all.
Musically this new single (from their 2109 album ‘Swimming Lessons’) is a punky rocky thrash with a hint that the band’s background is in reggae and certainly in live performance. Touring in the UK in 2020, they just go from strength to strength.
The Skints: The Island, release 2020 on Mr Bongo/Easy Star records.
‘At Last’ is the forthcoming album from East London’s ST1 (aka Stone). It follows the success of his earlier reggae EP ‘Stoned Roots’ and his live reputation as a performer, either relaxing or upbeat depending on the mood of the music. Tracks like ‘This One’s For You’ and ‘Ba Ba Boom’ are straightahead reggae but he is also capable of soulful and melodic songs – as all the best reggae performers are. Currently unsigned, ST1 is nonetheless building a grassroots following through his live gigs and his own releases. Worth looking out for!
ST1 (Stone): At Last, release 2020
Originally from Houston, 77 has clearly been influenced by his love of the reggae classics and has spent his young life generating music and beats through release on Spotify (from where this single can be heard) and working with other like-minded reggae enthusiasts including Reign Lowell, Donnie Canvas and Joey Calderaio. This single will add to his growing reputation.
Avery Carballo: Closer
Known primarily as a live band, the Gentleman’s Dub Club have in fact released seven studio albums and numerous singles and remixes to date and have worked alongside leading reggae names including Prince Fatty, Roots Manuva, Hollie Cook, Mungos Hi Fi and UB40.
The complete itinerary for the forthcoming tour is as follows – please double-check to avoid disappointment!
13th – London, Electric Ballroom
14th – Norwich, Waterfront
15th – Brighton, C H A L K
16th – Cardiff, Y Plas
19th – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
20th – Cambridge, Junction
21st – Southampton, The 1865
22nd – Bristol, SWX
25th – Glasgow, The Garage
26th – Leeds, Stylus
28th – Liverpool, Invisible Wind Factory
29th – Manchester, Academy 2
1st – Newcastle, Boiler Shop
Acclaimed DJ, filmmaker and BBC Radio 6 Music host Don Letts is set to perform a one-off North East show when he rolls into Teesside this Autumn.
Letts will bring his vast knowledge of reggae and punk music to Middlesbrough Town Hall for a special DJ set on Saturday 23rd November, celebrating the premiere of the eagerly anticipated documentary ‘Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records’.
As resident DJ at the iconic 1970’s London punk club, ‘The Roxy’, Letts came to notoriety as the DJ who single-handedly turned a whole generation of punks onto reggae and has been at the forefront of the UK music scene ever since.
Following his early success as a DJ, the reggae icon managed some of punk’s biggest names, including The Clash and The Slits. He also formed a number of his own music projects throughout the 80s and 90s, releasing critically acclaimed albums and hit singles with Big Audio Dynamite and Screaming Target.
Speaking of his upcoming show in Middlesbrough, Don Letts told us: “I’m going to be nice-ing up the place with some heavyweight bass, a reggae-type set that’s very much in the spirit of this amazing new film.
“Apparently, the reggae-punk connection is all my fault.
“Luckily for me, the punks liked it too. It was like a cultural exchange: they were turning me on to the whole punk DIY thing, and I was turning them on to bass-heavy Jamaican music. We were like-minded rebels.”
“I love performing in the North East and I can’t wait to make my Middlesbrough return. My set will be all about the heritage and legacy of Jamaican music and the island’s gift to the world…bass!”
As a filmmaker, Letts has directed over 300 music videos for the likes of The Clash, The Psychedelic Furs, Elvis Costello and Bob Marley & The Wailers. He would later go on to win a Grammy for his ground-breaking documentary, ‘Westway to the World’.
Over the course of his long and prolific career, his work has been exhibited in The Kitchen N.Y.C, The Institute of Contemporary Art, The N.F.T in London and was honoured at Brooklyn’s BAM festival.
Don continues to educate music aficionados on the rich history of reggae and punk in the UK with his popular BBC 6 Music show ‘Culture Clash Radio’, as well as national and international DJ sets, performing at the likes of Glastonbury Festival, The Rough Trade 25th Anniversary, Trojan Records, Lee Perry’s Meltdown and Stussy’s 25th Anniversary.
Support will come from Ska’d For Life, an all-star DJ group who bring the sound of ska to some of the world’s greatest songs.