pointless* records of the year list
somewhat incomplete, but will be added to...


whilst dancehall/bashment has been getting all the props this year, there have been some spectacular reggae releases that have looked backwards as well as forwards and created some classic contemporary roots reggae...

max romeo- 'outta babylon'/ ayo- 'i love you' 7"(eclectic breaks)

this is certainly hailing 70s roots, but has some modern touches to make it sound of today, without going down the steppas route. max's side is nice enough- professionally singing standard rasta bizniss, but he is shown up by the ayo side which is the ruler- a soulful female vocal which offsets the skanking rhythm beautifully. awesome late night tune.

chronicle- 'rasta unite' / 'fisherman' row 12"(dubwise)
hughie isaachar- 'mass destruction' / selah collins- 'unify' 10"(dubwise)
winston saxrose- 'fisherman roe' / danny vibes- 'nuh giving up' 10"(dubwise)

dubwise records have been releasing some consistently excellent stuff this year, most (if not all) of it mixed by russ d. the releases stand out from the rest of the uk steppas crop because of the use of live instrumentation, particularly horns and hand drums, their slightly more considered vibe (most of the artists featured have been around a while- selah collins started out on the unity sound system) and they don't pander too much to cliche.
this is expressed most clearly on the winston saxrose side- a brass led dub of 'fisherman row' which harks back to studio one, dean fraser et al.

i've heard all these at dances this year, and they certainly fulfill their promise when played on a big system.

v/a- 'riddim driven: doctor's darling' 2lp(germaican)
sizzla- 'i'll always love you' / valentine (version) 7"(germaican)
gentleman- 'after the storm' / valentine (version) 7"(germaican)

yeah, tanya stephen's version ('it's a pity') came out in 2003, but this one-rhythm lp came out this year and is consistently excellent (featuring versions by luciano (doing the usual), antony b (dueting with a someone singing in german), sizzla (back on a love tip), michael rose, george nooks etc).
its strange to think that a bunch of white germans can create a hit in JA, but so it goes.

even better is the 'valentine' rhythm- a touch harder and more pounding, with excellent cuts by sizzla (going on about love again- what do the germaican lot put in his tea?) and gentleman, who is now a major popstar in germany (number one album, being chased by young girls). buy on sight.

tanya stephens- 'better luck' 7"(joe frazier)

it's been her year and a welcome diversion from the liberal baiting bobos- a strong woman who won't take no shit. the complete lp hasn't made it this far north yet, but judging by what i've heard, this tune, on the bongo nyah rhythm could have taken pride of place on it, warning off other females with lines such as:

"i see you passing in your mini skirt / every time you see mi man you a flirt / think you a go hit / you pay dirt / better luck next time".

luciano– ‘man of jah order’ / anthony b- ‘good and bad’ (blood and fire) 7”
natural black- ‘it’s a joy’/ yami bolo– ‘conspiracy’ (blood and fire) 7”

reggae-riddims.com states that there are are 113 versions of ‘satta’ (although the list doesn’t include the above), so, do we need any more? no, not really, but I’m glad they made these.

rod taylor- 'don't leave me' 7" (education)
future trouble- 'jah bless me' 7" (education)
ranking joe- 'one jah' 7" (education)

ranking joe ‘world in trouble’ 7” (fleximix)
luciano ‘what we going to do’ 7”(fleximix)
vibronics & ranking joe - 'world in trouble (vibronics skaboom remix)' (fleximix)

as ever, ranking joe seems to have been popping up all over the shop this year and these two are particularly nice- the education tune is (yet another)new version of the 'cuss cuss' rhythm, with joe ranting aggressively in comparison to the others (although to compensate, future trouble's includes the fantastic line ‘jah bless me in the morning when i rise/ jah bless me in the morning when i open up my eyes’).

the fleximix 7"s are produced by ryan moore (of twilight circus sound system), and happily steer a well planned route between bouncing steppers and more orthodox roots. as is normal, luciano does what he does very well and joe shows his class. the remix turns the dials up a touch ready for the dance inna style you would expect given the remixers.

graham coxon- 'freakin' out' 7"

1. it reminds me a little of the descendents.
2. contains the line "got on your aviator shades / yeah man, you’re looking really ace".
3. so i like it.

robert wyatt- 'cookooland' cd(hannibal)

loopy jazz, clever lyrics, strange synths. not as good as shleep.


v/a ‘studio one disco mix’ 2lp(soul jazz)

unfortunately, the issues surrounding the soul jazz compilations continue with this one. my main bug bear is that the title states ‘discomix’, thus leading me to assume (naively) that all the tracks would follow the format of making one ‘ song ‘ out of a vocal and dub. how wrong i was- one of the best songs on this (stunning) set, judah eskender tafari’s ‘rasta tell you’ is just the vocal, with no dub to be found anywhere.

this combined with packaging that contains absolutely no information about dates of recording, producer/engineer/writer or background context and the fact that the 12” that was released before the lp wasn’t used to provide a vinyl outing for the cd exclusive suger minott song ‘love and understanding’, but instead repeats two lp tracks can get me a little miffed.

however, drop the needle on nearly everyone of these sides, and all the concerns drop away. astounding late 70s early 80s (i guess) updates of studio one tunes, most utilising syndrums to beef up the bottom end and provide some nice noises. a classic. haul up! haul up!

linval thompson and friends ‘whip them king tubby!’ 2lp(auralux)

this however has none of the problems that sully the soul jazz one. even better, they’ve put all the vocals on one lp and all the dubs on another, so you can create your own discomixes, ha!

featuring (supposedly- how are we to know?) rare dub plates produced by tubby, the vocal versions are beautiful examples of prime mid-70s roots ala bunny lee, (horace andy’s ‘wiseman’ must have been a soundbwoy killer) whilst the dubs mash it up in a restrained fashion.

ijahman levi- ‘i am a levi’ 12” (basic reply)

there was a fair bit of chuntering going on about this- was it the original 1975 version or a different one? when is it coming out?. as it was, it seemed to sell out almost immediately, and at least one record shop owner was concerned that they may never get their own personal copy.
on the consistently excellent basic channel/ basic replay/ wackies reissue label(s)(who have also put out the marvellous wayne jarrett 'showcase'(aka 'bubble up') and jah batta 'argument' (which includes an ode to vegetarianism) lps recently), this is quite dreamlike and ‘other’, until the dub comes along and the sound effects scare the shit out of you, being about 200 per cent louder than the actual song. i quite like that.

as the review on the basic replay website states, “every home should have a copy, really”.

nights out

subdub, the night run by simon scott and iration steppas has had some excellent sessions this year. highlights included the disciples (i've mentioned this before); a proper (but friendly) clash with channel one- mikey dread fighting off mark iration's HEAVY dubs with righteousness; the rootsman in the backroom, building and building with special after special; walking into the main room on the same night and seeing 800 odd people go absolutely mental at dreadzone's rootical jungle.

although i dearly love all the above releases, winston riley and king jammy's 80s productions have ruled the roost for most of the year at our house (get the 'revenge of king jammy's super power allstars' (2 cd or 12!! lps-featuring the odd juggled mix) and the maximum pressure techniques comps for a good overview).
current personal favourites include sugar minott's 'jah jah rule'; brigadier jerry's 'what kind of world' (both on the stalag rhythm); echo minott's 'what the hell' / lady june's 'tell you what police can do' (what the hell rhythm) and risto benji's 'gi mi di money' / pincher's 'no borrow gun' (punaany rhythm). cheap synths ahoy! expect this period to be hyped soon.

finally, a big highlight has been the mass of mixes (generally posted/ linked to in the blogosphere)that are about: john eden, soundmurderer, bailey, dj wrongspeed and dub kult have all done the business; and the essential writings of people around and about.

ho ho ho.

*that's the list, not the records.


this was the issue all along

alongside the on-going debate about homophobia in reggae and the recent human-rights watch report, the argument within jamaican society at large about whether homosexuality should be legalised seems to have come to the fore again.

indeed, it even made it onto 5live last night, with 'a famous jamaican talkshow host'
making it pretty clear (she stopped short of stating that all gays should be killed) that she was against the idea.

in november the jamaican government rejected the human rights watch report (which highlighted police brutality and persecution of homosexuals.
but now the opposition (JLP) justice minister, delroy chuck has called for the jamaican government to repeal the ban, sending the conservative members of the population into mouth foaming apoplexy.

as you'd expect, its a heated debate sucking in other issues such as colonialism, the bible and highlighting the ignorance of many- "homosexuals are intensely jealous of their partners"

however, there are some who take on a more liberal approach

it seems unlikely to change the everyday experiences of homosexuals in jamaica- calling an opposition MP gay is considered a reasoned criticism. maybe outrage! could help?


its not been a good year for reggae, has it?

dub pioneer errol 'et' thompson dies. the 'african dub' series was important for introducing the noises of toilets flushing, sirens etc into the mix, although scanning through this suggests 'reggae genius'

more front page 'murder music' coverage.

the article also mentions this report, which is required reading.

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