Saturday, April 16, 2011

Album Review: Various Artists – Ghetto Arc Presents Serious Times (2006)


Serious Times is one of the more mainstream post-millennium Reggae compilations on the market, and as such it represents an ideal sampler for anyone wishing to become more familiar with recent period flavours – be they of the Roots, One Drop, or Dancehall variety.

We get two CDs with essentially the same stuff on each – the first CD being an exclusive dubplate mix (by Federation Sound) with the second giving us the actual singles and split track versions.

Featuring the likes of Turbulence, Sizzla, Gyptian, Morgan Heritage, Richie Spice, Fantan Mojah, and Perfect, alongside others, it provides for a decent enough overview of what was happening within the genre (and an ever-increasing number of sub-genres) during 2006, and more generally over recent years. It all makes for a pretty good listen along the way, and for me the Roots-orientated numbers (like Rob Symeonn’s ‘Chosen One’ and Sizzla’s ‘Ain’t Gonna Fall’) provide the main highlights.

Other highlights include Gyptian’s title-track (so good we get three mixes), the two mixes of Turbulence’s ‘Notorious’, Morgan Heritage with ‘Wall Of Babylon’, Nitty Kutchie with ‘Ghetto’, and Nanko’s soulful and ultimately quite beautiful ‘Lucky You’.

Album Review: Fat Freddy’s Drop – Dr Boondigga And The Big BW (2009)


It took four years to produce a follow-up to the successful 2005 breakthrough album Based On A True Story, but clearly Fat Freddy’s Drop wanted to ensure the quality control filter was set appropriately high, and despite the rather absurd album title, Dr Boondigga And The Big BW, for the most part, comes up trumps.

Combining elements of Dub, Funk, Blues, and old fashioned Soul, with an added jazzy hip-hoppy vibe on one or two tracks, this is most definitely a return to top form for Godzone’s leading purveyors of bass heavy eclectic funk. Again, as with BOATS, horns and brass feature prominently, there’s the usual quota of guitar, synth, and electronic loopy bits, but mostly Dr Boondigga is all about bass and percussion. Rhythm has always been the main course for FFD, and to some extent, everything else – including the vocals – feels a little bit like additional garnish.

If there is a criticism it is that the laidback nature of several tracks tends to emphasise their length (‘Shiverman’ for example, is just a little too long) and you’d want to be careful about setting your iPod on repeat lest you find yourself dozing off involuntarily.

Five (of nine in total) for downloading: ‘The Raft’, the singles ‘Pull The Catch’ and ‘The Camel’, plus ‘The Nod’ (which features rapper MC Slave), and ‘Wild Wind’ … basically the entire middle section of the album.