Reggae

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Chris Macro: Macro-Dubplates Vol III; Brooklyn vs Kingston (chrismacro.com)

3 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read

Those who like a good mash-up won't want to go past this collection by New Zealand producer Chris Macro, formerly of the excellent but short-lived Dubious Brothers (just one album, the excellent Trade Secrets of 2002). Here -- as the title implies -- are implosions which include Ol' Dirty Bastard and Dawn Penn, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, the great Congos and U-Roy with Blackmoon, Busta Rhymes and... > Read more

Brooklyn Slow Motion

JAMAICA'S STUDIO ONE AND CLEMENT DODD: The focal point of reggae

21 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

King Stitt is something to see all right. His glazed eyes appear to look in different directions. There are huge bags beneath them, his greying dreadlocks are tucked under a huge tea cosy, his wiry beard unkempt. But his most distinctive features are a bottom lip the size of a sausage and a single sharp tooth which projects out of his otherwise empty gums. When he speaks you wish for... > Read more

Sugar Minott: Jah Jah Children

Ziggy Marley: Wild and Free (Tuff Gong)

18 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

After a faltering start with the Melody Makers, Ziggy (now 42) uncoupled his music from overly familiar reggae rhythms and incorporated African sounds, hooked up with rap artists, kept a political agenda and all the while didn't veer too far from his father's path and sometimes the classic sound. Here his collaborators include Woody Harrelson on the title track (“I see hemp... > Read more

Roads Less Traveled

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live Forever (Universal)

25 Mar 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Some albums are accorded greater cachet because of the circumstances of their creation. Does anyone really think George Harrison would have won a Grammy for his instrumental Marwa Blues if he had been around to collect it? That was a vote driven by sentiment -- and probably regret and embarrassment that his contribution to music post-Beatles hadn't been more widely acknowledged in his... > Read more

Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Heathen

House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

21 Mar 2011  |  1 min read

If it's true, as I am told, this album went to number one on the New Zealand charts it confirms two things: in this part of the Pacific we love them familiar summertime reggae grooves; and also that we have an indiscriminate love of them familar summertime reggae grooves to the point of ignoring the obvious. The obvious here is that House of Shem deliver little more -- I'd actually say... > Read more

House of Shem: Move Along Together

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

13 Mar 2011  |  5 min read

Silly question maybe, but you have to start by asking drummer Sly Dunbar -- one half of the legendary Sly'n'Robbie rhythm section alongside bassist Robbie Shakespeare -- what he's been up to lately. In the past couple of years the formidable Riddum Twins have played on No Doubt's career-reviving Rock Steady album, shared equal billing on an album with Jamaican-born jazz pianist Monty... > Read more

Wailing Souls with Sly'n'Robbie: Old Broom (from the album Sly and Robbie Present Taxi, 1981)

TOUGHER THAN TOUGH: The 1994 box set of Jamaican music considered

6 Mar 2011  |  4 min read  |  1

One of the most exciting things about popular music is that you can never anticipate where the next wave will come from. Could you have predicted Chicago in Forties, Memphis in the Fifties, Hamburg and Liverpool clubs in the Sixties, Berlin or the Bronx in the Seventies and early Eighties? Or Seattle, Havana, the deserts of the sub-Sahara . . . You could have? Great, a couple of... > Read more

The Folkes Brothers: Oh Carolina (1960)

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

12 Feb 2011  |  4 min read  |  1

The bassist with Hamilton reggae band Katchafire, Ara Adams-Tamatea, said it: "You go to parties now and they are still playing the same '70s Bob albums 20 and 30 years later. Why is that? Because Bob's message is still alive and the things he was singing about are still relevant." The Bob in question is dread rebel Bob Marley, whose music spoke to many in this country more deeply... > Read more

Bob Marley: Positive Vibration

BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH INTERVIEWED (2000): The people's poet laureate

6 Dec 2010  |  4 min read

Britain's most popular serious performance poet for more than two decades, Benjamin Zephaniah, laughs as he recalls hating poetry as a kid. If you said you liked it, it was as if you were filled with angst. And for a boy of Jamaican parents growing up in Birmingham, it was all a bit dead-white-male. Yet, at 42, the much-published, dreadlocked Rasta is a writer whose work has captured... > Read more

Benjamin Zephaniah: Neighbourhood Watch

The Heptones: Sweet Talking (Studio One)

29 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

Produced by the legendary Clement Dodd and fronted by the sweet voice of Leroy Sibbles, the Heptones were one of the great Jamaican vocal trios who brought in soulful harmonies borrowed from 50s bands like the Drifters. This 18-track collection of mid-60s tracks (most in stereo remixes not previously released on CD) includes their covers of the pop hit Only Sixteen, and Message from a... > Read more

The Heptones: Pretty Looks Isn't All

Easy Star All-Stars: Dubber Side of the Moon (Easy Star/Southbound)

31 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Almost a decade ago the Dub Side of the Moon album appeared and through word of mouth, then touring shows and a live DVD, the thing -- a dub take on Pink Floyd's milestone/millstone in rock -- became a sub-cultural phenomenon. And, as is the nature of such things, it now undergoes another reworking as "The Dubber Side" because various remixers (Dubmatix, Groove Corporation,... > Read more

Easy Star All-Stars: Time (Groove Corporation remix)

Katchafire: On the Road Again (EMI)

18 Oct 2010  |  1 min read

The title song/opener here is appropriate: for most of the past decade this hard-working band have been playing everywhere from small town bars and main centres around New Zealand to “London, Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii, Vegas, Cali, LA . . .” and more, which they tick off on the promise of “Fire layin' it down” in your town. Now on their fourth album, their... > Read more

Katchafire: Lead Us

KATCHAFIRE (2005): Slow burning their way to consciousness

11 Oct 2010  |  5 min read

Reggae is one of the bloodlines of New Zealand music. It is there whenever an acoustic guitar comes out on the marae or suburban barbeque, and you can hear it in the hi-tech dub incarnation in clubland and dance music like that from Salmonella Dub, Trinity Roots, Pitch Black and the many bands out of Wellington. Yet since indigenous reggae burst onto the scene after the arrival of its... > Read more

BOB MARLEY; TALKIN' BLUES: The Rastaman chanting down Babylon in 1973

30 Sep 2010  |  3 min read

Shortly after Bob Marley died in May ‘81 a journalist asked former-Wailer Peter Tosh what the passing of this charismatic reggae figure meant. Tosh considered the matter carefully, then offered this insightful -- but eloquently, unusually -- observation: “No more music from Bob.” Rasta/Zen reduction right there. And nearly right. Two years after Brother Bob’s... > Read more

Bob Marley: Rastaman Chant

THE DREAM GOES ON: Bob Marley's enduring influence, in jazz and elsewhere

27 Sep 2010  |  4 min read  |  1

Twenty years after the death of its high priest, reggae still informed the vocabulary of music. Reggae had so thoroughly infiltrated pop, rock, hip hop and electronica, we hardly noticed it any more. Still don't. And if it isn’t in the music itself – the bass lines, off-accent drumming, choppy guitars – then it's in the attitude reggae producers such as Lee Perry,... > Read more

Ernest Ranglin and Monty Alexander: Redemption Song (2004)

BURNING SPEAR INTERVIEWED (2000): Still tending his crop

30 Aug 2010  |  4 min read

Burning Spear lets go a deep, resonant laugh which starts as a chuckle then becomes increasingly full-throated. Savour that moment, it's the only break in his gravitas during this friendly, respectful conversation. Burning Spear - aka Winston Rodney - is the conscience of reggae, keeper of the flame of its roots, and the music's most visible senior statesman. And he takes his role... > Read more

Burning Spear: Hallelujah (from Calling Rastafari, 1999)

ERNEST RANGLIN INTERVIEWED (1999): Ska pioneer

16 Aug 2010  |  5 min read

What becomes a legend most? In the case of Ernest Ranglin, good humour and modesty. This legend of Jamaican singlehandedly created ska back in the Fifties; recorded the young Bob Marley; arranged Millie Small’s international hit My Boy Lollipop in 64; enjoyed a jazz career in London, New York and Florida; and in the early-to-mid Nineties captured the ears of a new generation with... > Read more

LEE SCRATCH PERRY IN THE 90s: Getting dub'n'reggae through time tuff

9 Aug 2010  |  4 min read  |  2

By the early 90s - a decade on from the death of Bob Marley - the consciousness reggae movement he headed was floundering internationally. In New Zealand, where reggae is one of the bloodlines, it was disappearing from radio and aside from well attended appearances by Judy Mowatt and Ziggy Marley concerts it really was “time tough,” as Toots once said. But there was also a... > Read more

Lee Scratch Perry: You Thought I Was Dead

JUDY MOWATT INTERVIEWED (1990): The black queen arises

26 Jul 2010  |  5 min read  |  1

Judy Mowatt wears her unofficial title “the queen of reggae" easily. A striking figure of regal bearing, she holds her head high, and, as a member of The Twelve Tribes of Israel, talks as easily about the Queen of Sheba in ancient times as she does about Yellowman, and DJ dancehall stars in Jamaica today – and shows a canny knowledge of chart placings for various reggae... > Read more

Judy Mowatt: Mother Africa

Dub Spencer and Trance Hill: Riding Strange Horses (Echo Beach/Yellow)

27 Jun 2010  |  <1 min read

Those who know their spaghetti westerns and love a bit of dubbery will welcome this new installment from the Swiss band Spencer/Hill (aka bassist Marcel Stalder, guitarist Markus Meier, keyboard player Philipp Greter and drummer Julian Dillier). Opening with Ennio Morricone's harmonica theme (from For a Few Dollars More, I think?) and then a deep dub version of the Clash's London Calling,... > Read more

Spencer/Hill: When I Fall in Love (featuring Ken Boothe)