Alexy Piyevsky feels the breeze in the West Indies
Here is the second installment of my Duke Bloggin reggae compilation series. Unlike the first volume, this one had no specific theme or aesthetic inspiration in mind. Instead it’s an eclectic collection of new or newly discovered songs I have recently enjoyed, mixed in with a few old favorites that I’ve been saving for this occasion. My only (very loose) criteria for selections, aside from them being good, was to include certain touches of weirdness, some slight esoteric qualities that make my picks stand out from the vast multitude of other good reggae and dub songs. And so the end product is a mishmash of 70s and 80s synthy dub oddities, drum machine experiments, covers, nostalgic roots throwbacks, screwed versions of classics, modern and older dub bearing some attractive passing resemblance to early dubstep, and a few ‘regular’ steppers thrown in to keep things balanced. An hour’s worth of veterans, rookies, murky depths, congenial strangeness, homages, unexpected collaborations and a few surprises. Enjoy!
1.Paul St. Hilaire – Nah Ina It
2.Henry & Louis Meet Blue & Red – Jah Jan Never Fail I (Featuring Shalom)
3.Wareika Hill Sounds – Free The People
4.Jackie Mittoo – Ayatollah
5.Aston Barrett – Work
6.Bullwackies All Stars – Space Age
7.Kalbata & Mixmonster – Prisoner in Love feat. Little John
8.Sam Bramwell – It A Go Dread Ina Babylon
9.Sheriff Lindo And The Hammer – Eastern Bloc
10.Wareika Hill Sounds – Universe In Crisis
11.Steel Pulse – Roller Skates (Chopped & Screwed By DJ Screw)
12.Kalbata & Mixmonster – Same Thing Every Day feat. Mutabaruka
13.Shinehead – Billie Jean
14.Lee “Scratch” Perry – Jesus Is A Soul Man (Prod. By Clams Casino)
1.Paul St. Hilaire – Nah Ina It: Paul St. Hilaire (Aka Tikiman) is something of a legend in modern outré reggae. His early work with Rhythm & Sound is iconic, nearly definitive in the dub-techno subgenre. This song is the title track from his new solo EP on Jahtari records. It’s very murky, with a strong grip on the bridge between classic dub and heady modern electronic music.
2.Henry & Louis Meet Blue & Red – Jah Jan Never Fail I (Featuring Shalom): Henry & Louis are an elusive pair of producers credited with a scattering of singles and an album in the early 90s. All the ones I’ve heard were good, but I don’t know much else.
3.Wareika Hill Sounds – Free The People & 10.Wareika Hill Sounds – Universe In Crisis: Dubby horns, Nyabinghi drumming, shades of Afro and Latin jazz, all purposefully smudged to sound like music playing on a busted radio in a desert, circa 60 years ago. Taken from the No More War EP.
4.Jackie Mittoo – Ayatollah: stirring emotional synth dub from one of the genre’s greatest talents. The kind of song that should soundtrack mystical spiritual revelations.
5.Aston Barrett – Work: An odd lo-fi drum machine experiment from ‘Family Man’ Barrett, a producer and bass player best known for closely working with Bob Marley. Far from Marley’s catchy melodies, this is a weird distorted affair that sounds like the tape it’s recorded on is rapidly disintegrating.
6.Bullwackies All Stars – Space Age: The legendary Wackies house band indulging in synth-laden pre-Star Wars sci-fi-themed exotica.
7.Kalbata & Mixmonster – Prisoner in Love feat. Little John & 12.Kalbata & Mixmonster – Same Thing Every Day feat. Mutabaruka: Kalbata & Mixmonster are a pair of reggae-loving Israeli producers who got their hands on a bunch of analog equipment, enlisted a host of Jamaican vocalists and made themselves a 2014 album that wouldn’t sound far out of place in 1978. The album is called Congo Beat The Drum (out on Freestyle records), it’s very warmly recommended.
8.Sam Bramwell - It A Go Dread Ina Babylon: Perhaps the most ‘regular’ thing on here, an energetic roots jam that I randomly found through Youtube. I originally passed on it, opting for stranger material, but the hook stuck in my head and the song ultimately became one of my favorite inclusions. Don’t know much about Bramwell, but all the other stuff I’ve heard from him was solid as well.
9.Sheriff Lindo And The Hammer – Eastern Bloc: May be the oddest thing on here. A standout track from an obscure but well regarded 80s Australian (!!!!) dub album, and it sounds a bit like … early Burial. I’m not kidding. Yes that Burial, the British guy. Pay attention to the ghostly clipped vocal samples, the shuffling drum patterns and the way the song fills out in the second half, you’ll see what I mean.
11.Steel Pulse – Roller Skates (Chopped & Screwed By DJ Screw): A sentimental favorite of mine. DJ Screw’s chops of Steel Pulse served as a sort of conduit for me; although I’ve heard chopped & screwed music prior to, it never really clicked until I came across these songs. Since then, I’ve been mildly obsessed with the aesthetic similarities between dub and Screw’s trademark sound. Screw only put a very small handful of reggae songs onto his tapes, and I’ve always wished he did a full tape of them.
13.Shinehead – Billie Jean: It’s a cover of a Michael Jackson song, over a riddim based on The Good The Bad & The Ugly theme. How could I NOT include it? Shinehead did several versions of this song, this one is my favorite because it makes the most use of those iconic horn blasts.
14.Lee “Scratch” Perry – Jesus Is A Soul Man (Prod. By Clams Casino): An unexpected but very fortuitous collaboration. This actually isn’t the first time that Clams dipped into the reggae, prior to becoming cloud rap’s architect he also produced a little known song for NY rap-reggae legend Mad Lion. Perry, still holding his spot as one of all-time greatest space cadets, fits right in over the gauzy beat.