Reviews Downloads Opinions/Articles Blog News Web Advices
Wha ah gwaan? Im Krikon and this is my blog, it's dedicated to everything i find interesting, esp. Reggae but also movies and graphic design. My reviews feature some low-quality, streaming samples but im not an illegal mp3 blog and will never be. Any artist or label who want their samples removed, let me know. If you want your album or movie reviewed here, post in the chat box and i'll get in touch with you.

July 30, 2007

We need a full lenght release now!!!

As we all know, Reggae is a single driven genre and most stuff hits 7 inch singles before it ever comes on Cd, a lot of artists albums are nothing but single collections. I don't know bout you readers but I don't buy vinyl no more and have no equipment to play it.

So it's a shame that the only releases I've found whit the singjay Cali P is on 7' inch vinyl or on riddim collections full of artists I'm not interested in. He needs a full lenght Cd release now, there is plenty of fans who would buy it and I'm one of them.

Until then we have to settle whit downloading whatever we can find whit him, this blogg is not to crazy about linking illegal downloads but search online and you will find enough Cali P to last you until he decides to release an album.

July 28, 2007

Artists etc.....

I assume all blogg-owners have amazing plans for their bloggs, so do I. Id love to make this the top destination for more obscure, unknown reggae acts from all over the world. Without support and stuff to review it's not gonna happen though, rite now I will keep the blogg going whit reviewing the stuff I own & buy and will continue doing so (this blog is no cheap attempt at getting free albums from labels and groups).

So please, get in touch whit me and we can make this an amazing blogg, perhaps even a regular site, but first i will see how much support I will get ( i mean like visitors and people adding comments etc, if this blogg grows popular but no review material arrives I will still keep going and expanding). One last thing, hope any eventual spelling errors will not distract from the content, I know im not a spelling bee champion, lol :D

July 27, 2007

Cocoa Tea - Biological Warfare

A new album by Cocoa Tea is always a cause for celebration in my book, the man has been around for a very long time and is still sounding fresh like few. When he drops something new one always wonder what sorta album it will be, either a soundbwoi/love song album or a more rootsy/dealing whit social issues one. I prefer the later even though it really don't matter, a Cocoa Tea album is always good to me.

This is however one of his rootsier ones, not any "my sound a deh numbah one" kinda songs on here, it's more about poor people suffering, the new world order, immigration and the injustices of the Babylon shitstim. You can tell Cocoa Tea is smart and knows allot, he keeps himself updated on what goes on in the world. Sometimes roots reggae are too general in criticizing Babylon and it's the same old rehashed words over and over again. Not whit Cocoa, you can tell he has observed and identified specific issues. But enough, let's get to the songs of this album;

First up is "Poverty" who is about how poverty is the source to most of the ills in the society and that we must eradicate poverty if we really want a better world and that we all should have some compassion and help those in need if we can. Sometimes some Reggae is called "Sufferahs music" but despite the subject this shure is not, the riddim is very upbeat and the song has a positive vibe to it. I dunno if this makes sense but it has a typical Cocoa Tea feel to it. Next up is"Blood and fyah" who deals whit "the new world order", for those who dunno about the subject, you need to read up on it, it's a very real threat and really scary once you know some bout it. Seriously, this is Satan in full effect and we need to educate our minds. It's a real mellow and smooth track on an extremely imp. subject.

It's not like things ease up whit next track, "Biological warfare" (Cocoa Tea means business on this cd and deals whit some heavy stuff) who is kinda self explanatory as far as the subject goes. Once again, the backing is smooth and easy on the listener to balance up the heavy subject. After that things ease up a little whit "Let the dancehall" who is a call for peace to the "Rudebwoi's" who populate the dancehall circuits, it's not a soundbwoi track but still as close as you gonna get on this album. It has a classical music feel to it whit the riddim built around a short sequence of violins playing.

the only love song on the album is "Too far from home" and it has way more substance than your average "I love you" song and deals whit Cocoa falling in love whit this Italian woman and how he has a hard time dealing whit being away from Jamaica to be whit her. As a foreigner leaving home to live whit the woman of my dreams i can relate to this song even though i don't feel like "....I'm too far from home". Bottom line, i like this song and glimpse of Cocoa Tea's private life.

There's 1 song on here whit a kinda "cross-over" feel, where Cocoa tea aims to win over the Urban/R&B/Hip hop market, "Rise up". I don't care for it too much but I'm at the same time not holding it against Cocoa, id love to see him blow up in the states and climb the charts as long as he keeps on making his usual songs he's always made. And, the lyrics shure ain't watered down, being another poor people's anthem telling them to "Rise up". The title "poor people defenda" may be taken by Chuck Fenda but Cocoa Tea is the original, he's been on the poor people's side, defending their interests for over 20 years now.

There is a coupla tracks i have not brought up in this review but do not make no mistake and think that they are not good, this is an very strong album, no "filler" songs and stellar performances throughout. If you're looking for something new and unique, never done before though, this is not the album. Cocoa Tea found his style years ago and has stuck whit it, why fix something that is not broke? I would be seriously disappointed if he ever changed his style, his tracks are timeless and his style perfected.

July 19, 2007

Reggaebooks Rundown

If you're a serious music fan it's of course not enough to just listen to the music, you wanna know about the artists, put the music in it's social context and basically just know a lot about it. What better way could there be to obtain that knowledge other than reading books (and watch documentaries)? Here I'll give you the rundown on a few of the great books about reggae that's out there, it's far from final and complete though.....

Reggae Island - Brian Jahn and Toby & Tony Weber (Da Capo)
A lot of books about Reggae have a focus on the 70 ies, talking about and featuring all those amazing artists from the "golden age", not this one, it does not try to be no definite history of the genre but more contemporary. Well, it's a few years old so that translates into the artists that where around in the early 90ies. It's made by Brian Jahn (& Tony Webber) who's an photographer whit a long commitment to Jamaican music.

There's photos a plenty and a whole bunch of shorter interviews whit folks like Yellowman, Tony Rebel, Michael Rose, etc.... You will also find a number of interviews whit classic 70 ies artists dealing whit their transition to new times. If you're looking for that deep penetrating knowledge of Reggae this may not be the book to get it in (the interviews are kinda short) but it's nevertheless a nice addition to your skankin' library and should be pretty cheap ordering used from Amazon

 Buy here

King Jammy's - Beth Lesser (ECW Press)
There has been no-one in the history of Dancehall Reggae that has been more important than producer extraordinaire, King Jammy, the man behind the insanely popular Sleng Teng Riddim. This is the book about him and the artists who was around him such as Half Pint, Junior Reid and many more. This book was originally published in 1989 by a small Finish company but the version you are likely to find is the expanded re-print (which also features articles from the authors now slumbering fanzine).

Some have criticized the design of this release which is by no means ugly but detract from the many amazing photos who came out better in the less fancy original. The author was there when everything happened so what we get is eyewitness accounts, interviews by artists in the middle of whatever is going on, not no "looking back at things" perspective as we get in many other books. My only complaint is that the format of this book is too small, what we get is sooo good that i wish there was more of the same stuff. Buy this whit the cd "King at the controls" (which includes an amazing dvd documentary) from VP and you get a good look at one of Reggae's most important.

Buy here

Reggae Explosion: The Story of Jamaican Music - Chris Salewicz & Adrian Boot (Harry N. Abrams)
When you want luxurious large format coffetable books whit plenty of stunning photos this is the way to go, it's laid out as a history of reggae from start to where it was at the time of publishing. The book covers all the big names in Reggae such as Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Luciano, Toots & The Maytals, Lee Perry, etc... Some has said that it's way to general and does not cover everything it should, something i find a bit unfair. Yes, it paints whit broad strokes and does not mention every obscure guy who has ever been in the business but id still say this is a great book whit amazing photos, good design and informative texts.

If you are a musicnerd in general without a specific genre of interest, who jumps from rock, to reggae to pop this is the only book on Reggae you will ever need, if you have just started getting interested in Reggae this is a good starting point as long as you're aware of that there is a lot more to explore. Either way,this is a good book and you have to like it for what it is other than to dislike it for what it's not.

buy here

Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music - Lloyd Bradley & Dennis Morris (BBC)
A companion piece to the excellent BBC 3 part tv-series by the same name, another history of reggae whit plenty of photos in both color & black and white. Some dislike when graphic designers are allowed going crazy over the photos and they will find it refreshing that the photos are represented without any design elements, just like they where taken, no borders, special-fx or anything else.

There is plenty of interviews whit old and new artists and well researched texts who covers a lot of ground while at the same time leaving a lot out. One could have wished for a thicker book whit longer chapters and more of everything but what we get is still very good. I really appreciate the section on British reggae & lovers rock, a subject often left out in other 100% Jamaicancentric books. As said, this accompanies a tv-series but still works very well on it's own, unf. the series is not out on DVD at the moment but do float around on the net as a "Torrent" or "Direct Connect" download.

Buy here

Reggae Bloodlines - Stephen Davis & Peter Simon (Double Day Anchor)
For all of you who prefers the Reggae of the 70 ies, the golden age of "roots" and "vocal trios", this is the top book, written at the times things went down and featuring artists like Max Romeo, Augustus Pablo, Mighty Diamonds, U-Roy and more this is a treasure chest of knowledge in the shape of a book. It comes in the mix of a music book and guide to Jamaica as a country. The authors obviously wanted to put the music in a social context and let us know how life is (or more correctly was) on the island.

Besides getting chapters dealing whit artists like Ras Michael, Fred Locks etc they also take time to explain Jamaican politics, Michael Manley, Gun Courts, Maroons and life on the countryside. Works just as well for folks interested in Jamaica as those interested in it's music life. Among all the books available this (the first book on Reggae) is my favourite and while it may cost a bit nowadays (as it's out of print) it's worth every penny you can pay, highly recommended.

Buy here

Solid Foundation: An oral history of Reggae - David Katz (Bloomsbury)
For sheer information this book is quite amazing, mr.Katz has done an amazing Job of finding "everyone and their Mamma" and sucked them dry of information. Lotsa obscure guys from the childhood of Jamaican music are in here, do y'all know about guys like Ken Khouri or Charlie Motta and what role they have played in Jamaican music history? Hmm, didn't think so. There's actually so much information here that you can only read a few pages a time or your system are bound to suffer from "information overload".

Those who demand a whole heap a photos, a flashy design and colors will be disappointed of this book, it's all about the text in "Solid Foundation". Sure, there's quite a few photos in here but they are small and not of any higher quality than you would find in a newspaper. As mentioned in the title this is a "oral history" and there is plenty of "X said this and this but on the other hand, Y claims it more like that and that". Sometimes there is conflicting statements and Mr.Katz mentions this and how he has tried his best to verify all information. But, sometimes it's just not possible, deal whit it or avoid this book.

If you're a 100% Reggae fanatic who want to know exactly everything there is to know about your genre and everyone in it id say this is your best choice, the information contained here is quite overwhelming in it's volume. However, this is not a book you glance thru for a few minutes, it demands your attention and a major interest in Jamaican music.

Buy here

Reggae & Caribbean Music - Dave Thompson (Third Ear)
Out of all the books on Reggae i own this is the one that has impressed me the least, it's some sorta encyclopedia on Reggae & Caribbean music dealing whit artists, releases and carnivals. It's a thick & fairly large book, 532 pages, whit mostly written material (and a few photos here and there). Thick or not, it bites more than it can chew and i would have preferred if it had only dealt whit reggae artists/producers. As it is right now, too many important names are left out and no matter how much the book contains it feels way too incomplete to be satisfying.

You can't take on such a wide subject as "Caribbean Music" in general and expect to do a good job, imagine someone doing a book on European music having to cover all the genres and artists that exists on that continent, IMPOSSIBLE! And why would anyone into reggae really care about who won carnivals on Trinidad? It's not a worthless book but still far from essential, if you find it cheap in some bargain bin, go ahead and buy it but never pay full price.

Buy here

That's it for now, as said this is not a complete list, there are still many books i am yet to read so expect me to be back whit another rundown of books, just dunno when.

July 18, 2007

Uwe Banton-Jah roots

If someone would have said a couple years ago that one of the best reggae albums that i would ever hear was by a German artist going under the name "Uwe Banton" i would have laughed my ass of and said they where delirious and out of their minds. This however, is now a fact and i can't praise his album "Jah Roots" enough.

I'm kinda going thru some rough times at the moment and this album is performing miracles as far as getting me in a better mood goes. Take any Jamaican or international roots artist you want but nothing will beat this (a few selected may be just as good though) album. It's straight fyah and positive vibes from start to finish.

It start of whit a favourite (even though that is a kinda silly statement as all songs on here feels like favourites), "Don't Cry" about how folks shall not give up when faced whit hard times cause Jah is always looking out for his children.

"But JAH is not sleeping, he’s watching over his children While we are weeping, the comforter takes up our burden, saying: Don’t you cry, hold your head high, ‘cause JAH is standing by He lives in the I, not just in the sky, you got to give love a try!”
If you ever wanted an inspirational and uplifting song this is "THE ONE", next up is another gem who goes by the name "I know" who continues in the tradition of the above mentioned first track telling us that no matter how much evil there is in the world and how enslaved we are "the lion of Judah" will break our chains

"But I know That in spite all these things we’re gonna make it And all those chains that hold us the Lion Of Judah will break it Redemption come - Babylon your system must go down No matter how rough it may seem We still keep chanting JAH Word, Power And Sound"

Then a couple more great tracks follow until we reach song 7, the title track "Jah Roots". It's a great roots anthem, very catchy and a perfect selecta choice to get every rootsman up on the dance floor and rule the soundsistim dance. The song reminds us to always pay attention to Jah and warns about false prophets who may cloud our judgement. It's kinda uptempo and energetic while still keeping the thoughtful spirit who runs thru this great album.

Another song that catches your attention is the highly controversial "11th September", no matter wheter you agrees whit the lyrics or not it sticks to your head and is of the nature that you will hum along to by yourself, sit on the buss singing, I am shure y'all know what i mean.

All in all there is 17 songs on here and 1 interlude and even though i have not mentioned every song in this review there is not even 1 "filler" track on here, all songs are essential rootsreggae tracks worthy to be on here. Uwe very much has his own style of 100% uncompromising roots reggae but for those who want comparisons to other artists you can absolutely feel hints of Freddie McGregor (at his rootsiest moments) and Israel Vibrations (thinking mostly of the ending track "The goal"). There's not to many features on here, on 2 tracks Uwe shares the spotlights whit toasters. They are given the perfect amount of time to shine while still not outshining Uwe himself.

Well, i love this album whit all my heart but do not recommend you to buy it, I ORDER YOU TO!!!!! Who knew one of the best reggae artists around would come from Germany?