Tropical Disco Hustle Volume Two Various Artists
(Cultures of Soul Records)
In the 1970s when disco had the world dancing, the Caribbean was not a region of mimic men but included musicians who were influencing and signifying that their music could and should be on playlists at Studio 54 and Régine’s. This compilation album of retro Caribbean disco grooves was researched by Deano Sounds out of Boston, and includes a couple re-mixes by French rare-groove DJ Waxist Selecta and legendary UK DJ Al Kent. It follows an earlier compilation by the label, Volume One, and suggests that the trend of searching for the original impetus in disco music and placing it in its geographical context is a worthwhile endeavour. The music of Trinidad featuring three cuts by vocal harmony group stalwarts Wild Fire and others mined from the archives of Brooklyn-based Charlie’s Records plays side by side with tracks from St Lucia, Guadeloupe and Jamaica. Funky, soulful and hopeful are apt adjectives to describe that original sound.
Reggae Gold 2015 Various Artists
2015 was a good year for dancehall and reggae, and pioneering reggae label VP Records has complied some of the best songs of the year on its annual collection of hits. Busy Signal’s minimalist yet catchy anthem “Text Message” along with Gyptian’s smooth groover “All On Me” and comedian Eddie Murphy’s successful segue into reggae crossover “Oh Jah Jah” are all included here among the album’s twenty tracks of hits featuring legends like Sly and Robbie and Beres Hammond to dancehall icon Vybz Kartel and roots reggae king Jah Cure. Reggae music broke into mainstream consciousness about 40 years ago, and for more than two decades, VP Records has been compiling the best in reggae, dancehall, lover’s rock and roots dub. 2015 is no different and this collection is worth every cent. The continued efforts of the label and the artists to expand the “dialects” of world musics is unending and rewarding.
Nappy: Music Man Richard ‘Nappy’ Mayers et al
Nappy Mayers was a kind of Trinidad music wunderkind who produced many hit records during the 1970s up to early 1990s when he passed. German re-issue label Cree Records has repackaged those songs for a new generation and a new global audience, both on CD and on vinyl record. Mayers, as a kid, was part of the island’s vibrant “combo” music scene of the 1960s—young teenage bands playing pop-influenced music—who would form his iconic band Embryo and begin recording by the mid 1970s. His music absorbed a range of influences from American pop and soul to Jamaican reggae to the newly burgeoning soca of Trinidad and the resulting music reflected well this eclectic palate and strongly showcased his talent for crafting a memorable melody. Songs like the perennial “Wanna Make Love To You” featuring Nadie LaFond to “Ebony Girl” with the killer bassline makes this set a keepsake for nostalgia buffs and a must-have memento.
Short Term Love 5 Miles To Midnight (Single)
Island rockers 5 Miles To Midnight are back after a brief hiatus with the single produced by star producer Sheriff Mumbles, Short Term Love that departs from their super-charged sonic aggression to one of soulful yet vibrantly rocking contemplation. This track documents a new reality for singer Liam King, or maybe it’s the band, that life is short and good things do come to an end. “The sun has set in the sky, but also on us / Stop imagining there’s something more,” is a declaration of the boundaries that are evident in some human relations. This young band has chosen a path of honest reflection, and the song can be heard as the antidote to the numerous cloying love ballads in constant rotation in the soundtracks of people lives. Pop blandness is replaced with a “riddim” that suggests that either you can dance to this or you should listen well and sing along loudly.
- These reviews appear in the November/December 2015 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.