Thursday, March 06, 2008

Reggae Record Crate

Bunny "Striker" Lee works are reissued

Scanning the reggae record crates and new release lists several crucial titles are knocking around.

Germany's Moll-Selekta has a new 17-track collection of Bunny "Striker" Lee's varied '60s and '70s reggae tracks. Lee is a dominating producer, having worked with legends and greats galore. This comp offers classics from Delroy Wilson, Barry Brown, Cornell Campbell and his signature artist Johnny Clarke.

There's tremendous gems like Roy Shirley's "Israelites Leave Babylon," on the same version as Ronnie Davis's "Jah Jahovia." Davis's own "I'm just a Man" is also included, as is the absolutely heavy 12 inch version of the King Tubby engineered Horace Andy tune "Zion Gate" (listed here as "I Don't Want To Be Left Outside." A word on Ronnie Davis: get to know this singer.

Although Striker Lee was the originator of the "flying cymbal" sound, a steppers-type rhythm with upswinging hi-hats that resembled a disco meter, the majority of the Moll-Selekta comp is traditional easy-tempo reggae and rocksteady.

Also bubbling nice is the Joe Higgs reissue Life of Contradiction recently reissued on the UK's Pressure Sounds. Higgs was supremely respected for his ska-era vocal tracks as Higgs & Wilson, and for coaching a youthful Robert Nesta Marley and his Wailing Wailers singing group in the art of harmonization. But Life is his towering recorded achievement. No other reggae record sounds quite like this.

Its a raw, unvarnished rebel record recorded at the Black Power movement's height, and is imbued with striking soul-drenched vocals, and anguished freedom songs. Heavy roots I-yah.

But if you're looking to take the thinking cap off and put the grooving shoes on, then Sound Dimension: Mojo Rocksteady Beat is your ticket. This is Studio One's finest instrumentals, the absolute most recognizable and beloved rocksteady gems, all in one package. From Real Rock" to "Heavy Rock," "Rockfort Rock" rock, em, stone, is left unturned.