Monday, January 20, 2014

It's All Germain: Penthouse Turns 25

The sheer amount of music that producer Donovan Germain has gifted to the world in the past 25 years is daunting. From his days behind the controls at the Revolutionary Sounds label, where he produced deep reggae music for Cultural Roots, Trinity, The Tamlins and more, to his Germain label, which birthed massive dancehall hits for Audrey Hall and Beres Hammond in the form of the "What One Dance Can Do" riddim, through his years dominating the charts with songs on his Penthouse Records label, Germain has been steadfast in both quality and consistency.

Producers come and go, but Germain has kept his finger on the pulse, as illustrated by his recent top-flight signings Romain Virgo, Dalton Harris and Exco Levi. They're all young talents for sure, but each has a genuine buzz and a track record of excellent live performances or albums to their credit. These acts, as well as some household names fill a recently issued overview compilation.

Penthouse 25: The Journey Continues (out now, VP Records), a two-disc set, and 47-song digital release, covers the depth and breadth of Germain's Penthouse Records years. Included are his name-brand danchall and reggae artists, Buju Banton, Wayne Wonder, Marcia Griffith, Tony Rebel and Sanchez, plus a plethora of superb newer Jamaican names like Sherieta, D-Major and RC.

The collection features long-standing anthems like Capleton's "Prophet" or Buju Banton's "Who Say"–the type of tracks that, until now, serious selectors have preciously guarded on vinyl.

Again, Germain has always put a premium on top-notch instrumentation and arrangements. It's that type of aesthetic that helped propel Beres Hammond's Germain-produced One Love One Heart album to a 2014 Grammy-nomination. And he's still at it, as the Souncloud clips below of his latest riddim can attest. Germain is still producing, recording and finding the sweet spots in music.

Want a more extensive tour of the Penthouse? This excellent French site (in English) covers just about any thing you need to know about the label and its catalog. Then, listen to the new material below, and pick up the new comp. This is timeless reggae music.