of "Crucial Reggae From Outside Jamaica, Vol. 2"
Skank Productions recently released "CRUCIAL REGGAE FROM
OUTSIDE JAMAICA - Vol. 2", a super compilation that celebrates and brings focus
to outstanding reggae artists from different parts of the world. If you missed
the dynamic Vol. 1 in 2004, you can take comfort in knowing that Vol. 2 maintains
the standard of Vol. 1, but expands on the scope and quality of this series. Vol.
2. expands geographically to now include artists from Ghana, Canada, Trinidad
and St. Lucia. There are also great appearances by artists from the U.S.A, the
Virgin Islands, St. Vincent and Dominica just as Volume 1 had. The Beat Magazine,
Jahworks.org, Creation Steppin' Radio and several other organizations have all
rated "CRUCIAL REGGAE Vol. 2" as a "great album." Some of the artists include
Rocky Dawuni, Nasio Fontaine, Groundation, Bambu Station, Inner Visions, Ossie
Dellimore and several other outstanding artists. "CRUCIAL REGGAE Vol 2" is just
that, "crucial" and worth every bit of your attention.
Mt. Nebo Records (www.mtneborecords.com)
The follow-up to last year's critically-aclaimed "Volume
1" is another flat-out masterpiece from Professor Skank. What makes this album
so sweet is that it not only contains some great tunes from artists you know,
it also features several nuggets that you probably don't, such as Sheriff Ghale's
"Election Time" and Identity's "Peace." Danny I's "Gun Play," Mongoose's "Out
of Range," Inner Visions' "Spiritual Dancer" and Rocky Dawuni's "My Love" probably
aren't on most people's radar either. All of these songs however will make you
wish that you could go out and buy entire albums from these artists. Among the
more well-known artists "from outside Jamaica" are Dominica's Nasio, featured
here with the classic tune "Dangerous" from "Living in the Positive," and Groundation
with "Praising." Bambu Station, newcomer Zion Judah, Jahson and Ossie Dellimore
round out a collection of songs that is truly all killer, no filler from beginning
to end. One can clearly see the care that has gone into the selection of these
tracks. And you'll definitely get your money's worth with the 16-page booklet
with artist info and lyrics that the Professor has painstakingly crafted. Professor
Skank promises that this CD will "blow you away," and he's not just blowing smoke-
this is a classic, a must-have not only for the listener who is just discovering
the majesty of modern roots reggae, but even for the long-time connoisseur. Highly
DJ Bahilman (www.creation-steppin.com)
Presenting part two of Professor Skank’s dissertation on his thesis that some of the most powerful reggae these days is arising not from the island of its ultimate origin but from other parts of the world. Like number one in the series, this disc presents a convincing argument, and I suspect that further volumes of evidence could easily be assembled, at least theoretically. This one has a wider scope than the first, in that it depends slightly less on contributions from the Virgin Islands and includes two from Africa. On the other hand, several artists from the first show up again here.
The temptation for a reviewer is to second-guess some of Skank’s choices. That might be fun, but not too meaningful. After all, he doesn’t claim that these are “the best” of the crucial, merely that they are among the crucial. I wouldn’t attempt to disprove that. So let’s consider what is here.
The USA band Groundation leads off with their usual expert musicianship and thoroughly satisfying sound; it’s too bad their lyrics are such head-scratchers. Rocky Dawuni from Ghana delivers a good love song, but I prefer the melodic and hook-laden contribution from his countryman Sheriff Ghale (“They are coming again, coming again/It is election time” – no problem figuring out what this one means.) Mongoose (USA via Montreal) returns with a pleasant but somewhat less memorable melody than they contributed to the first disc. Their lyrics can be noteworthy, though: “a monetary soul is a solitary soldier” offers an interesting juxtaposition of both sound and sense. Thanks to his soft vocal delivery, a strong tune and an absolutely cooking rhythm, St. Croix’s Danny I offers a real highlight, despite his lousy enunciation. Jahson from Dominica/St. Thomas is another great find, with an engaging style, especially in the close link between his lyrics and vocal mannerisms. The Zion Judah track is not my favourite from his album, but it does have an appealing bubbling sound and a touch of sly wit: “Them a control the news media/Disseminating them propaganda/Weaving them web of believable lies/Pulling nuff wool over the sheeple eyes.” The Nasio Fontaine, Identity, Dellimore, Inner Visions and Bambu Station selections are fully deserving of their spots on the disc as well.
The CD insert provides a wealth of information: short bios, lyrics, recording credits. I must also mention that one of my longstanding favorite causes is supported by sales of this (and the previous) album: a portion of the proceeds goes to Doctors Without Borders. The cause is crucial, the music is crucial. And now we can look forward to Volume 3.
Ted Boothroyd (www.jahworks.org)
"Crucial Reggae From Outside Jamaica Vol. 2" follows up on the original release with another collection of strong roots tunes from non-Jamaican acts - this time however the contributors hail from a broader range of places. As with the first edition the Caribbean islands are the main focus; those represented include St Vincent, Trinidad & the Virgin Islands - but, critically, African reggae gets the inclusion it deserves.
Two of my favourite tracks on the album are by African artists both hailing from Ghana. Rocky Dawuni contributes 'My Love' (from his 1998 album 'Crusade') characterized by some great backing vocals and a catchy chorus. His countryman, Sheriff Ghale, gives us his opinion of politicians "…when they win they say bye bye, when you're down they pass you by…" on the fantastic 'Election Time' - one of the highlights of the album.
Groundation, arguably America's best known reggae group, open the album with lead singer Stafford's distinctive wailing vocals in fine form on 'Praising'. Highlights from the Caribbean contingent include Dominican-born Nasio's 'Dangerous' and Bambu Station, hailing from the Virgin Islands, who round things off admirably with 'One Day' (from their 2003 album of the same name).
The only disappointment is the lack of a track or two to demonstrate the growing quality of the European reggae scene. But this, as well as non-English speaking reggae, could well be given their chance on the next volume?
All in all this is a fine collection of conscious roots music and a great starting point for anyone not already familiar with the wealth of reggae talent from outside Jamaica.
Teacher & Mr. T. (www.reggae-vibes.com)
To listen to 1 minute song samples from each song
(using windows media player)
To check out the 16-page booklet
To see what people are saying about "Crucial Reggae from Outside Jamaica Vol. 2"
To check out Doctors Without Borders...
To read the Mission Statement for Skank Records...
TO BUY CRUCIAL REGGAE FROM OUTSIDE JAMAICA Vol. 2
WHO IS PROFESSOR SKANK?