of Ossie Dellimore's "Freedom's Journal"
Originally released in 2000, "Freedom's Journal"
proved to be one of those underground classics that never got its due, and quickly
went out of print and became nearly impossible to find. The copy that took me
months to acquire amazed me, and I always lamented the fact that this album
didn't receive the proper recognition. Well, Professor Skank had the same feelings,
and has put his money where his heart is, re-releasing this absolutely crucial
album with some subtle improvements. The standout track "Time Has Come" had
two versions, the stronger of which was included on "Easy Star Volume One" and
now replaces the less rootical take on the original album. Also, the Professor
has included the dub to this killer tune ("Solomon Dub") plus an extended mix
of "Sharp As A Razor" and its dub companion, "Razor Dub." The remainder of the
album is the same, back to back to back greatness...."A Better Way," "Justice,"
The System," "Got To Be Free" and more. The rootical rhythms are ridden by Ossie's
amazing voice, which can only be described as "big." The flow between tracks
has been enhanced, the musicianship is stellar, and there's even a 16 page liner
booklet. Sure, you say, Bahilman is running ads for this album,
of course you're gonna say it's good. Well, let me just say that when I found
out about this project, I practically begged Prof. Skank to be a part of it,
so strongly do I feel about this album. This is a highly recommended must buy
Bahilman (from Creation-steppin.com)
For anyone who's read my end of year playlists, you'll
know that the highly conscious roots album "Freedom Journal" by Ossie Dellimore
(RAW #1522) is one of my most played CDs of all time. The original release takes
the #5 place on my ALL TIME TOP PLAYS. When the album first came out, I couldn't
speak highly enough of it, and those to whom I recommended it felt the same.
Fast forward a couple of years, the original "Freedom's Journal" is out of print,
but Professor Skank of Skank Productions (#994) has re-released it. And the
new version is even better than the first. Still containing Ossie's "Time has
Come", which was first released as a 7" by Easy Star Records (#723) and which
then appeared on the very first Easy Star Compilation Vol 1, as well as all
of the tracks from the original "Freedom's Journal", a couple bonus tracks have
been added, some of the endings have been cleaned up a bit, and the overall
product, Skank Production's very first release, is excellent. I played it in
school the other day, as soon as it arrived. In fact, I played it all day through
all my classes, as well as at home later, for friends that were over, and later
that evening, I had to write Prof Skank to place an order for 4 more copies.
I highly recommend the new "Freedom's Journal" to all DJs, so much so that I
even suggest BUYING it! You won't regret it!
Jah Son from Reggae Ambassadors Worldwide
This album is a re-release of the AB Records cd that hit the streets in 2000 and then got out of print. The re-issue on Professor Skank's "Skank Productions" imprint adds the original Time Has Come as well as the dub to that fantastic song, an extended mix of the wicked combination tune Sharp As A Razor and the dub to that same song.
Ossie Dellimore - hailing from the island of St Vincent and living in New York since the late eighties - first came to our notice when New York based Easy Star Records released his stunning debut single "Time Has Come" in February 1998. After some two year's of silence on the recording side of his musical career, Ossie Dellimore's great songwriting and strong, powerful vocal performance (to many reminiscent of a young Peter Tosh) could be captured on the original release of his entertaining, self-produced debut album "Freedom's Journal". An album that brings the listener undiluted roots reggae from the very first drop. As a true rastaman Ossie strictly deals with righteousness, which is expressed through the reality lyrics in every self-penned piece on this album. The ten vocal tracks featured here range from such classic masterpieces like "Time Has Come" to the exuberant performance of Fire Man". Standout tracks are the aforementioned "Time Has Come", "Down Pressor Man", "A Better Way" and the wicked combination tune with Junior Demus titled "Sharp As A Razor". Also worthwile hearing are "The System" and "To the Limit", which incorporates a nice bluesy organ part. If you don't mind that some tracks are dominated by synthesizer parts ("Justice") and a "rock style" guitar solo ("Rockers Reggae") this decent 'roots rock reggae' delivery from Ossie Dellimore may be well worth checking out.
If you've missed it in 2000, well here's your chance.....
Teacher & Mr. T. (from Reggae Vibes)
Freedom's Journal was the name of the first African-American
owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. Between 1827 and
1829, one hundred three weekly issues were published and distributed in New York
City and circulated in twelve U.S. states, Canada, Haiti, and Europe. Freedom's
Journal countered racist commentary published in the mainstream press. No surprise
that it was banned in the South. Freedom's Journal is also the title of Ossie
Dellimore's recently reissued CD. It's not very often that a CD is reissued only
four years after its initial release, but such is the case with Ossie Dellimore's
debut. Musically, the style of reggae is classic roots with a live studio band.
Ossie actually plays guitar and percussion. Every song is an original composition
from this New York City-based, St. Vincent-transported singer. His voice is strong
and deep and he sings in a precise, militant style. Think of the tone of Kulcha
Knox blended with the precision and drama of the late Garnet Silk and you have
an idea of what Ossie sounds like. The singer's first accomplishment was in 1990
when he took first place in a Caribbean Amateur Night contest at the Apollo Theater
in Harlem. Seven years later, he hooked up with the NYC-based Easy Star label,
and gigged all over the city. 2000 saw the release of his debut, and now Freedom's
Journal is available again through Skank Records. This new version adds "Sharp
as a Razor" with gruff-voiced Junior Demus, and a dub version, plus the original
single mix of "Time Has Come" which was Ossie's first-ever single. Inside the
CD booklet are song lyrics and an extensive interview with the artist, conducted
by Skank boss Professor Skank.
Joshua Blood (from Heartbeat Records)
The music on this disk isn’t old, but Freedom’s Journal is a reissue anyway, slightly tweaked with added dubs and a single. The reasoning was that it didn’t get the proper attention first time around, just a couple of years ago. That logic seems entirely rational: this album is a powerful musical force that many of us didn’t latch onto at the time. But then, to get the exposure it really deserves, it would probably have to be featured on the front page of the New York Times. That’s not a likely event, given that this is hard-core roots reggae. Not a likely event, given that it’s music. Not likely, given that it’s not war, not economics, not politics and not scandal.
But back to the album. The track listing may make you think these are cover songs or close copies thereof: “The System”, “Fire Man”, “Rocker Reggae”, “Got to be Free”, “Downpressor Man”, for example. But these songs, and the rest, are neither covers nor imitations; they are original lyrical explorations of admittedly familiar themes using original and memorable melodies (and yes, they reflect a familiarity with what has gone before, but that’s hardly a weakness). These songs are delivered with the same unyielding commitment and vibrant musicality that transform a select few reggae albums into classics of the genre. That’s the level we’re dealing with here.
What’s so great about Freedom’s Journal, you ask? Many things. Fifty-five minutes worth of things. First, the songs; fully realized, tuneful gems. Next, the instrumentalists: skilled performers who are aggressive and gutsy when appropriate, sensitive and subtle also when appropriate, and none of them synthesizing anything. Third, the frequent and extended interplay between Dellimore’s very masculine, edgy lead and the smoother, beautifully contrasting, highly responsive backing voices of Starlett Kirby, “Rahsheba” Lewis and Adama Kefentse. It’s normal to arrange tunes with that kind of vocal interplay, but seldom have I heard the device used as effectively. Fourth, the creative, bold musical arrangements, including a subdued organ solo used as a bridge, nicely-varied tempos, bright horn charts, a Junior Demus toast (in a U-Roy mode) on “Sharp as a Razor”, and most daringly, the occasional naked voice of Dellimore , stark and urgent. Fifth, the clever, thoughtful and occasionally playful lyrics, in which sound is as important as sense, each lyric perfectly aligned with its tune. Sixth, the two dubs and one extended mix: opportunities for fuller appreciation.
This album may have a couple of minor downsides for some people. Some may not like Dellimore’s vocal mannerisms, including his penchant for turning up instead of down at the end of a musical phrase. For me that merely sustains emphasis where it would normally be lost. The timbre of his voice may not appeal to some, but in fact it’s highly expressive. Aside from those points (and even those are stretching it) I can’t think of anything that one could justifiably criticize in Freedom’s Journal . It is an inspired work of art.
Ted "The Boot" Boothroyd (from www.jahworks.org)
To listen to song samples from each song
(using windows media player)
To read more reviews of "Freedom's Journal"
To see what people are saying about "Freedom's Journal"
To check out the 16-page booklet
To read the Mission Statement for Skank Records...
TO BUY FREEDOM'S JOURNAL
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WHO IS PROFESSOR SKANK?