March 24, 2011
I've been reading "Irie Up" ever since it's first issue and have kept on buying every new magazine coming. I did an thorough review some time ago and as this is being written 8 issues have been produced. Perhaps it's time to take a look at the journey so far and asses what's good, what's bad, what needs to be changed and what's not. One thing needs to be stated and very clear before anyone continues reading, everything is written in good faith and im grateful that there's at least 1 English spoken magazine dedicated to our beloved genre and will keep on buying every new mag. as long as they are distributed in the country where i live.
In the review of the first issue i said it kinda lacked a structure, this have been worked on and the way the content is presented makes more sense now. It could be tightened up even more but it's not anything urgent. I mentioned that i was wanting a review section and there is one now. It's great that they review both vinyl and cd's (along with digital releases) but i wish they would cover a wider section of the market. Rite now it's mostly the small, local underground acts tht is featured, forget releases from VP, Greensleves or any of the bigger guys like Anthony B etc....
As far as articles go, what is covered? Just like the first issue they have continued to have a strong focus on the soundsystem scene and the promoters. There is interviews and features with artists and groups as well but nowhere near as many as i would like to see. To generalize it seem as if we are more likely to have a feature on a flyer distributor in (let's say) Bulgaria or a concert promoter in Cologne than an artist. I would love to see a more balanced magazine, keep the stuff that's in there but ad more artist coverage. When and if that is being done, feature all sub-genres. I wanna read about new and old acts, roots as well as dancehall/ragga and established artists as well as those who is barely starting out.
When it comes to the look of the magazine i have absolutely no complaints, it's gorgeous and professional looking whit nice color photos throughout the pages. Whit that being said, if there is a choice between producing a fancy magazine or a thick one with plenty content i would rather go for the later. If you could ad 20-30 pages by printing on paper of a lower quality and mix color pages with black and white ones i would rather go for that. Still, what you got going is flawless.
The passion from the first issue is still there and i comend you for not loosing interest or getting lazy, every issue oozes with love for Reggae. Seem as if plenty of folks are getting fed up with the scene nowadays and looses themselfes in nostalgia trips over how good it used to be way back when.
When talking paper magazines i guess the web presence is less important but their re-vamped website is looking a whole lota better than their old one (which was still good) but i would love a web-forum and perhaps a consignment shop selling material from all the obscure acts one reads about in the magazine. There is no convenient way of obtaining anything with all the local act's being mentioned. Also, a web directory would be great but not essential. Well, i guess that's it from me, i hope this wasn't to long and incomprehensible. I love the magazine, y'all are doing an important job and is filling a big void.
The popularity of Reggae in Sweden may have exploded in recent years compared to what it used to be and there's no lack of talent among local acts. Unf. it does not seem to be much support for local releases. This have however not stopped the albums from coming, Swedish artists have dropped titles since way back in the 70 ies when veterans like native Peps Person and immigrants like Babatunde Tony Ellis entered the scene.
This is the first of several reviews where i take a look at some Swedish releases that's dropped through the years. I start whit one of my own favorites, the compilation "Swing-a-ling Soundsystem Volume One" who dropped in 92 when i took my first stumbling steps as a fan. It features some of the biggest names of the scene at that time, some who are still active and even at least one minor hit who managed to receive Tv exposure. Whit that being said, the main thing this album did for me was to introduce me to "Daddy Boastin", the funnyman of Swedish reggae. He has remained a favorite throughout the years and nowadays he's mostly active as a part of Sweden's premier soundsystem, "Trinity".
Starting things of is "Drum & bass" by Lion/Sly, an duo (i assume) i know little about, Lion has continued with soundsystems like "Meditative Sounds" but who and where Sly is i don't know. I remember i really liked this song but im not 100% sure that it has held up all that good, it's still nice but i notice it's flaws way more now. To start of i'd say it's a fast song whit drums that feels flimsy and artificial. It owes a lot to the current, commercial club sound of the time, good? Yes but not the masterpiece i remember it to be. Right after it comes "Newspaper say so", a vintage "Daddy Boastin" cut about current events and the news medias reporting. While i love the goofy, humorous image he has nowadays it's nice to hear him on a more serious note. One can tell mr.Boastin has more intellectual capacity than what he's showcasing nowadays. Also, his kinda trademark rough voice is not present, he sounds smoother and more melodic than what he does now. Over all, this sounds good.
I skip one song (whit the artist Papa Dee, which i never liked) and we get another "Daddy Boastin" cut, "Aids warning" which is one of my favorites on here. While having serious lyrics on how you gotta protect yourself and wear condoms this is a party track with a bubbly beat and a infectious (pun intended, lol) harmonica loop. This would work just as well on the dancefloor now as it did then. After this comes "Reggae down on me" by Isust, a lighthearted crossover track who gained radio play and Tv exposure when it came. Not bad, melodic with Saxophones and real instruments but to "urban contemporary" for my taste. Isust have been active in various constellations thru the years and is still recording.
More suited for sweaty bodies on a dancefloor is "Slammin body" by Rudy, another artist i know nothing about and never heard outside of this compilation. He is doing a good job and toasts well. I wanna get out of my chair and start dancing when hearing this, the lyrics do what they where set out to but will not impress (then again, that prob. wasn't the intention). It's a short album with only 9 tracks so next up is the last song, "Heartical vibes", another track by "Lion/Sly". It's about coming to Sweden and features a few Swedish phrases which makes u go, "hmm...... was that in Swedish? ". It's a catchy, anthem like song and a great end to an good (if not perfect) album which deserves it's place in the Swedish Reggae history. Just wish i knew more bout some of the artists though......
March 18, 2011
Way back in the early 90 ies when i started listening to Reggae i was very much all retro in my taste and almost exclusively listened to 70ies Roots-reggae and vocal trios. Somewhere along the line my focus changed and my taste became way more current. I feel that might change again and go back to a more 70 ies flavored taste. While being a new album i consider this an important turning point as it sounds just like something being released in the mid to late 70 ies and features an artist who was in his prime during that period (although this release proves he still got it).
It was released last year by the Spanish based "A-Lone Productions" who recently released the amazing "From creation" by Alpheus (who most likely will end up being the album of the year). Ernie B reggae summed things up good when they wrote "You can no longer say that "they don't make roots reggae like they used to". " This showcase album does not sound anywhere near being recorded in 2010. Im not huge on dubs but the ones on here are quite massive, tons of instrumentation and incredible production values.
There's 6 different song with dubs included so it total there is 12 tracks on here, a few new songs like the title track "And god said unto man" along with re-makes like "None shall escape the judgment" which most potential buyers should know already. All in all this is an amazing album, they obviously took their time with it and i hope folks have and are buying this album so that we can get more in the same flavor. I got absolutely no complaints!!!!