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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.

February 26, 2011

Ancient King - Judgement

Hello, as promised im back with another "Mystic Vision" related review, this time with "Ancient King" a chanter/sing-jay from St.Croix, Virgin Islands. The album was produced by the "Mystic Vision" team and also features background vocals from them. This is his second album since he was first heard on a compilation from "I Grade Records" in 2001 when he recorded under the name "Wilson".

As with so many Bobo artists he's deeply Rastafarian and this is very much present in his lyrics which is no-nonsense Rasta from start to finish but perhaps without the "new age" feel that much of the "Mystic Vision" material has. Anyways, the first song is "Be still" and is about the power of Reggae and how it can uplift and teach the people. I would say that "Ancient King" belongs to the more rowdy of chanters, at first i took that as him having less control over his voice and that he was just screaming. After listening some more I realize that would be an unfair statement, he has a good, energetic flow and should appeal to any fans of artists like "Sizzla" while still having a style of his own.

I would say the "Mystic Vision" camp does a great job producing, the sound on here is more scaled down than on their own albums and it allows "Ancient King" and his vocals to be in focus. Skipping ahead a track we come to "Jah speak" featuring singing from John Bento. It's the most melodic on here and could just as well have been a "Mystic Vision" song with a feature from "Ancient King" as vice versa. It's one of my favorites on here and the two acts complements each other very well.

The title track "Judgement" is a rowdy, scaled back digital sounding song where "Ancient King" pass judgement on the "Roman Catholic" church and all who do their works. Besides his chanting i'd say the drums and bass is the most dominant features on here and it would work perfect ina sweaty dancehall with bodies in motion. It's not my favorite on here. All albums have to feature a dedication to weed of high quality, "High grade time" is the weed anthem of choice on here and it's a good song, a lil bit more melodic and less rowdy (to be honest, i rather go less rowdy but htat's just a personal preference).

On a more "hip-hop" vibe is the next song, "Full time shotta fe satta" who is a warning to all bad men out there who rather let their gun talk for them than anything else. It's a nice track which ad some versatility to the album and while i would probably be bored with a album full of these kinda tracks i welcome it. Last up on here is "What make them judge him for" where he's back in full force with a very rootsy finish to the album. I must say i absolutely enjoyed the album, i very much enjoy chanters/singjay's and always welcome albums with these kinda artists in my collection.

Like i said before, he's kinda rowdy in his delivery and those who prefer the calmer and more singing style of, let's say "Lutan Fyah" should be aware of that. This is not to say he is bad in any way, shape or form though. Personally i wouldn't say he's up there with the best but he does not come to far behind and this is a good album well worth buying even though it's no mind blowing,"must have" classic.

February 24, 2011

Toots & the Maytals - Reggae got Soul

Finaly, iv'e seen the "Toots & The Maytals" documentary from BBC after some delays (i got stuck watching this silly Swedish street gang documentary) and im ready to give y'all a rundown on whether it's good or not. I was slightly disappointed after "Reggae Britannia" as it did not satisfy my apetite for details and coverage of obscure acts & anecdotes.

Let's start this review with saying that this is a much better documentary than the previous "Reggae Britannia" and i definitely liked it. I guess you could say it is loosely based on the time-line approach to documentaries, it kinda starts from the beginning but it's not strictly from point A to point B to point C and so on, we get a multitude of interviews and input from folks close to Toots as well as other musicians who admire him and music industry fans in general. This is a very loving documentary and no one has one single negative word to say about him.

I gotta admit, i don't claim myself as the biggest Toots fan in the world, I do like him and his music, got some of his songs on compilations but I've never been one of the huge fans. This documentary kinda reveals that Toots have played a bigger part in my Reggae fandom than i was aware of, I've been enjoying far more of his music than I thought i did. That's the major thing this documentary did for me, making me realize how much i dig his music.

There's plenty of interviews with big names such as Marcia Griffiths, Eric Clapton,Keith Richards, Ziggy Marley, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Cliff, Sly & Robbie and of course Toots Hibberts himself. There's been talk about how a generation of classic Reggae artists are dying of so it was nice to see how healthy and young some of these folks look. Toots was in good shape, so was Jimmy Cliff and i can't believe how Marcia Griffiths just keep looking better the older she gets. Im sure she's in her 60ies by now but she's still hot (in a classy way). It was kinda funny seing this guy Wayne Jobson who looks like a long lost member from Aerosmith but who speaks with a mild but obvious Jamaican accent (shows how diverse the population of Jamaica really is)

BBC certainly got it right this time around, it's not the ultimate "single artist" music documentary (like i think "Stepping Razor" is) but there's plenty to like about "Reggae got soul". There's so many legendary artists in Jamaica that deserves their own documentaries, im glad that we can cross out "Toots Hibbert" from the list. Now someone needs to do one on "Burning Spear" before it's too late.

Hopefully this documentary will result in plenty of album sales for Toots and an re-assurance that he is still valid as an artist. This documentary shows that he's very much still active and it seem as if he does good music and isn't only living of of past merits. I will have to buy me some of his releases in the future. Well, im sure there will be plenty of places online to download this from, i got mine at "Uk-Nova" (as always when it comes to British television.).

February 20, 2011

Chris Boomer - I am who I am

Im back with a new album review, im taking a brief break from "Mystic Vision" related material (i'll be back with em in my next review) and i just got the new "Toots & The Maytals" documentary from BBC that is waiting to be reviewed, stay tuned for plenty of interesting stuff on this blog int he future. But let's get started........

This guy from Guam was discovered by SOJA's front-man Jacob Hemphill while they where touring the island and an instant friendship started to bloom. They've written songs together and this EP is Boomers first release. To my knowledge it's only available as an digital release but for those who are into melodic roots reggae (conscious, yes but not necessarily Rasta) this should be a very interesting release.

This is a very melodic and well produced album, Chris Boomer goes for real instruments all the way and is not the kind of artist who relies on Riddims used by others (not saying that is wrong though) and goes for originality and an organic sound. In interviews he states Lucky Dube as an influence and you can def. hear that in his sound, or an African reggae vibe in general. One thing is for sure, Mr.Boomer is not from Jamaica and he sounds nothing like any Reggae coming from there (you decide for yourself whether that is good or bad).

Anyways, things start with "I am who I am" (which bear no relation or resemblance to the Peter Tosh tune "I am that i am") which is about Babylons oppression and how who he is and where he's at has nothing to do with his oppressor. I'd say that this opening track is the best song on the album, it's very relaxed but whit an energy that make u wanna get up and do something, the lyrics are inspiring.

The 3rd song is a love-song, "I know how" it's a really beautiful song who pulls quite an emotional punch about how he is totally lost without his lover. I somehow feels that this would be a very good song for an romantic movie, like the part when the 2 characters are separated and longs for each others. This might be roots reggae but not without a strong pop-music vibe to it. I would not be surprised if his music will find it's way beyond the "reggae-nerd" circuit i belong to.

Another high point on this album is "Bossman" about who is really running things in this system and how you may be more in charge than what you think you are. Chris Boomers songs are clever, philosophical and with quite an empowering message to boot. This song is a prime example of all that and very mellow as well. He get his message across without feeling to threatening or preachy. Things end with the acoustic "Can't stop me" who has an "Redemption song" feel to it and continues with the socially conscious theme of the previous songs where Chris Boomer tells us how he can't be controlled or stopped by Babylon.

Well, i very much enjoyed this album and im somewhat surprised i did as it at times felt very much like an intelligent pop album. Chris Boomers music has an mass-appeal that i usually think is very unappealing but he somehow pulls it of, i would not be surprised if he somewhere along in his career will have a huge cross-over hit. His voice reminds me a little bit of Bob Marley but as i said earlier, there's nothing Jamaican about his music and those wanting that element in their Reggae can forget about this album. There's nothing more to say really, i thoroughly enjoyed this album.

February 18, 2011

Is Buju innocent?

I read a piece on the re-trial of Buju Banton that was published by "Jamaica Observer" and it's very hard to make up your mind on what to think of things. Buju admits that he "talked the talk" and posed as a drug-dealer. They have him on camera when he tastes cocaine from a knife, Buju claims he was just goin along with things, kept up with the act and that he was scared of his life.

Judging from personal experience i know that he could very well tell the truth. One night (many years ago) i was approached by 2 junkies, felt very uneasy and pretended to be one myself just to get away from the situation. Then again, Buju boasted and claimed he was a bigtime drug-dealer on an airplane, where there was no danger.

We are talking bout a guy whit a very spiritual image, who sings bout justice and the hardships of the poor and who has a very successful career. The way i see it he's either guilty and a scumbag or immature whit some character flaws. I really want to believe he's innocent as he's from an artist point of view one of the best "modern" reggae artists ever with a slew of amazing albums behind him but i just don't know.....

Even his character wittnesses (Morgan Heritage & co.) admits he does a lot of talking but claims he's no drug-dealer. Should someone who either is or runs around and pretends he's a bigtime drug-dealer go into a studio and record all these spiritual and philosophical songs? While admitting to his genious i dunno if i will ever look at Buju in the same light again, regardless of his guilt or not......

February 16, 2011

low-budget titles, dont fear them....

I just got a big, big package from "Ernie B Reggae" with about 40 cd's, except for 4-5 of them that where $1.49 they where all like $1.00 or even below. Many of them where from artists i have not heard too much about and yeah, i took a risk buying blindly like that but it paid of surprisingly often. With the business in turmoil there's some great deals to be made if you're adventurous and dare to buy unknown artists.

Most albums where quite amazing if you consider what i paid for them and some would have been a good purchase even at "full price". I recommenced y'all to do the same, go to their bargain section and just order away, get anything that's cheap, no matter whether you know how it sounds or have heard about them. It's very enjoyable to get a huge package with an overwhelming amount of new albums to check out and more often than not they turn out to have at least 1 song that made it worth buying.

Believe it or not, "Ernie B" did not pay me to post this, this post is not a part of some sorta clever marketing scheme. If y'all wait some im sure y'all get to read my "buy full priced albums to keep the genre alive" post also, love to contradict myself (lol).

February 14, 2011

Reggae Britannia

It finally aired, iv'e been looking forward to see this ever since it was announced that my favorite station where to air this newly produced documentary on Reggae in the UK. Rarely have my expectations been so high, would this beat outstanding documentaries like "Reggae in Babylon" and "Aquarious" ? It's good enough but im afraid i got a bit disappointing. This was not made for "reggae-nerds" like me and deals with how Reggae affected British society at large rather than feature as many anecdotes from as many artists as possible.

It has Dennis Bovel, folks from "Aswad" and "Steel Pulse" along with brief segments from Tippa Irie and Asher Senator but totally leaves out much of the current artists and super important folks like Jah Shaka or Mad Professor. The parts on "lovers rock" are bigtime disappointments as it does not feature any of the big names like "Peter Hunningale" or "Bitty McLean" but just a few female acts from the 70ies and 80ies.
It also features Chris Blackwell who started Island records but as there was a show strictly about him not too long ago it feels like repetition.

The same goes for the part about the UK ska revival, it's interesting and i do like some of the songs/groups but they got their own show as well. I think UB40 sucks but knowing how big they got i guess they had to feature them on here, too bad they skipped out on all good white reggae/dancehall acts that's from the UK. And talking about UK dub and leaving out "Alpha & Omega" and the whole steppers scene, that should border on criminal negligence (lol).

I guess this would appeal more to someone with a big interest in music in general who would like to get a overview of British reggae and what the genre has meant to the UK rather than someone who lives and breathes Reggae on a daily basis. Still, i rather have this flawed documentary than none at all and there are interesting parts in it. Worth watching but not as impressive and "all inclusive" as i had hoped. Now im awaiting the "Toots & The Maytals" documentary that is to come, let's hope tha one will be better. Can be downloaded from torrent sites like "UK nova", im not going to upload it here this time.

February 9, 2011

Andres - Monsoon kiva

Been jamming "Mystic Vision" and affiliated artists like crazy lately, it's amazing they have managed to stay so unknown with all the material they have out. It's not just quantity either, they got some production values. One of their producers and band members is Andres "Draezey" Estrada who has 3 solo albums out as well as tons of music produced for others. I believe this is his first album and it stretches back to 2007. Anyone who enjoys his efforts in "Mystic Vision" will enjoy this album.

It starts in a no-nonsense way with " Jah live" who has a strong acoustic presence and lyrics about how everything relates back to Jah who gives everything living power, humans as well as animals and plants. While definitely being RASTA all the way i have always felt that the members of "Mystic Vision" has a strong "new age" feel to them and their music and this is a perfect example of that as it features elements of nature worshiping and ties it together with more traditional Rastafarian subjects like Haile Selassie I, the power of Jah etc... It's a very solid and powerful song with amazing production.

As so often with artists I like but who's music is unobtainable for me i keep on checking their Myspace pages and listen to them from there. Song 3, "Send me away" is prob. the first song that made me open my eyes to this collective of artists. There's a video to this song on "Youtube" that impressed me big time and im happy to finally have it on CD. It's not as directly about returning to Africa as one may think but more about escaping all the bad stuff in the world, it's a slow meditative song as well as being really catchy but i feel as if the version on here is very short compared to what i remember from the video which seem to no longer be online.

Three songs further in is "Intention", a deeply personal song about some sort of relationship where Andres did not keep in touch the way he should have and here he let whoever know how sorry he is for it. Nice that he ads an song about relations to break things up and ad some variety to the material, as far as backing/melody goes it's still in the same nature as many of the other songs on here which is not a problem. "Lion and the lamb" with the rapper"Jam-One" (who does not have the usual NM gangsta swagger) is a bit faster and upbeat than the other and is about the struggle Hispanic people go thru in United States, it's more of an political song than spiritual. Other features on here is from the inimitable Vaughn Benjamin on "Build love" and a few others (incl. band-member John Bento). As usual I've excluded a number of songs in this review to not make it too long but all songs on here are winners, this is a "no skipping required" cd.

There is no doubt that this is another hit from the "Mystic Vision" camp an it features their own brand of spirituality and RastafarI along with personal reflections from Andres. I like his voice and it kinda reminds me of John Bento's in that it's kinda fragile and sensitive sounding while still being very original. There is plenty of "real" instruments on here, guitar solos, drums etc... It's refreshing with an artist who actually is a songwriter and don't relies on other producers riddims (although i like plenty of "riddim riding" artists). Quality all the way and very recommended.

February 4, 2011

Releases you should check out

As y'all know Reggae dont get the attention it should in regular media and that makes it very easy to miss out on interesting artists and releases. To prevent this from happening i decided to compile a lil something about some lesser known, fairly recent albums u should def. take a second look at. Don't consider this a review as im far to brief in my rundown for that. My original plan where to create a playlist for each and every album but due to some error in either divshare or blogspot i could not have multiple playlists in 1 post. That's why i had to include all samples for these releases into one playlist at the end.

Mighty Howard - Jah soldier

This colorado/new york raised artist is nowadays settled in Germany where he has been recording for some time now. To my knowledge this is his first release, downloadable from digital distributor Juno. Y'all who like traditional rootsreggae with a contemporary, modern flair to it will certainly enjoy this album and i look forward to hear more from him.
I-Taweh - Overload

It's easy to forgett about Jamaica (wow, can't believe i actualy wrote that) with so much amazing material coming from all over the world nowadays but the fire is still burning strong in our beloved genres birthplace. Wanna know more bout him? His website is very good and informative, except for missing a webshop this is how all artists sites should be, not half-assed and poorly updated. This album has strong production values, plenty of live instruments and I-Taweh sure is not one to compete in the "riddim race", i could only hear exclusive, original productions on here. A must for all of y'all oldschool Roots fans.

Zion - Stricktly roots

The oldschool sounding Rootsreggae is alive and well, this Dominican islands imigrant currently settled in USA goes for the Bob Marley type of sound without being an copycat artist (Bob Marley wannabes bore me) and manages to impress me quite a bit. The release is of high quality with a very imformative cd-booklet.

Spiritual - My world
Wow, more brand new & fresh oldschool roots vibes from Jamaica, this guy knows what he's doin and sounds kinda like an slightly more mellancholic verision of Culture or perhaps Burning Spear. I don't think this will dissapoint anyone who it's intended to please. Just a shame it's a download only release, still..... WAY TO GO.