The James Hunter Six ‘Whatever It Takes’ (Daptone) 5/5

This collective can do no wrong in my world and if you caught the previous two albums then this is more of the same, early to mid 60’s sounding soul, I’ve said this many times when discussing this lot, but we are so lucky they landed at Daptone, the depth and intensity of the music presented on this album and the preceding two others is wonderful. I pulled this from the sleeve and 3 hours later I was in a 60’s groove which ended with the spellbinding Lorraine Ellison WB album which houses the classic “Stay with me”, The James Hunter Six felt so right in amongst that hallowed company and there you have it, the sound might be dated, from an era long lost in the mists of time but its real and part of our time now, I nipped over to Cambridge the other day for few hours and walked into an independent music store and it was booming out of the speakers, I got chatting to the guys in the store and they were selling at least 3 per day to students who liked what they heard. Young people listening to music that was popular when there parents/grand parents were young, amazing. Of course those of us  who have been switched on to James Hunter had an indication as to where he might go sound wise  on his 2008 “The Hard Way”  album, the wonderful 60’s inspired floater  “Tell Her” captivated us all, the fore runner to what’s happening now,  of course the glue that holds all this together is Jonathan Lee on drums, Lee Badau on Baritone Sax, Damian Hand on Tenor Sax, Andrew Kingslow on Piano, Organ and Percussion, and that so familiar base played by Jason Wilson and of course we have Mr Hunter himself who provides some of the most scintillating guitar licks and vocals that just sound so right on this platform. I keep on hearing this is RnB but it’s a million miles away from that, this is soul music and to call it anything else is just under selling this whole experience, you know what, I’ve had this on in the car, and my music room relentlessly and I’m already looking to his next production. The album kicks off with the slinky mid pacer “I don’t wanna be without you” which just rolls along effortlessly into the slightly more urgent “Whatever it takes” and then for another 10 glorious tracks, what a ride. As essential as the air you breathe.

Brian Goucher

Claude François ‘For Ever’ 3CD (Universal France) 4/5

Released to coincide with the anniversary of the singer’s death from electrocution in the bath aged just thirty-nine in 1978, this three CD set provides an excellent overview of Claude François’ career and neatly divides up his periods with different record companies by CD. Internationally, his major claim to fame is as the co-author of the original version of a song, ‘Comme d’habitude’ (‘As always’), that would have new English lyrics added by Paul Anka and then became a world wide hit through Frank Sinatra, ‘I did it my way’. However, in his native France, François scored many hits and reworked several 1960’s sings in English into French after first starting on the French Riviera, invariably backed by an orchestra while performing at luxury hotels. An early cover came in 1962 with a French language reading of the Everly Brothers‘, ‘Made to love (girls girls girls)’, which was turned into, ‘Belles! Belles! Belles!’. Other songs from the formative part of his career similarly focused on translating early pop and rock ‘n’ roll and these included, ‘Si javais un marteau (‘If I had a hammer’)’ and, ‘Marche tout droit (‘Walk right in’)’. By 1963, the singer was headlining the Olympia in Paris and had set up his own show featuring his very own female dancers that became known as ‘Claudettes’ and this was part of his lavish stage show. It was in 1967 that,’Comme d’habitude’, first became a hit in France, but the early 1970’s were a traumatic time and the singer collapsed on stage from exhaustion. A new market was emerging in the 1970’s and François had the commercial acumen to change with the times and start to veer into new territory. He took a leaf out of the Bee Gees book and created his own version of the disco sound, influenced by the whirling strings of the Philly sound on, ‘Laisse une chance à notre amour’ (Leave a chance for our love’), a mid-tempo soulful groove in, ‘Quand la pluie finira de tomber’ (When the rain stops falling), but especially and, now regarded by a younger generation as his greatest contribution, the anthemic French disco stomper that is, ”Alexandrie, Alexandra’, devoted to the place in Egypt where he was brought up as a child and ironically it was released in France on the very day of his burial. Two versions are available here, the shorter 45, and the newly remixed, longer 12″ take, which is eight minutes ten of elongated dancefloor pleasure. With a bongo intro that leads into fully orchestrated accompaniment, and François really letting go

In spite of sixty songs on offer, there are still some omissions such as the singer’s take on ‘Massachussetts’, by the Bee Gees re-titled, ‘La plus belle chose du monde’, and other songs that became renowned including, ‘Où s’en aller?’, ‘A part, la vie est belle’, ‘Le spectacle est terminé’, et ‘Les anges, les roses et la pluie’. On the other hand, for collectors, there are some previously hard to find songs that were either B-sides, or quite simply relegated to album titles. The former would include, ‘Quand la pluie finira de tomber’, while, ‘Six jours sur la route (Six days on the road)’, does not normally feature on other anthologies. Completists may well favour the more subsantial 20 CD box set that covers everything, but for most three CD’s of sixty songs will more than suffice. As much of a cultural institution as a mere popular singer, the life of Claude François has spawned controversial biographies and a universally praised biopic film starring Jérémie Renier, that gives a real flavour of the inner torments that plagued the singer. Even now, Claude François has the capacity to surprise and earlier this year his relationship with a young Belgian woman came to light with a now thirty something daughter, Juliette Bocquet, that the world was unaware of.

It is interesting to contemplate how the 1970’s French music scene could make space for François and Johnny Hallyday, as well as what remained of the classic French chanson tradition, and an entirely new generation of singer-songwriters from Lavilliers to Souchon.

Tim Stenhouse

Oscar Brown Jr. ‘Between Heaven & Hell + Sin & Soul’ (Soul Jam) 5/5

Chicago born singer Oscar Brown Jr came to prominence at the beginning of the 1960’s and personified the ‘hipster’ persona, hence his nickname of the ‘high priest of hip’. His cultural contribution to the civil rights era is a significant one for in his early career he was a radio broadcaster for the first ever African-American news programme in the United States, called, ‘Negro news front’, that Brown Jr. hosted  for some five years. However, it was his vocal skills that he will be most fondly remembered for and both albums contained within have, at regular intervals, been re-issued in vinyl and CD format, though this is probably the first occasion that they have been paired together, and with the major additional bonus of non-album song from the same era that found their way onto lesser known 45’s. Jazz dance fans will marvel at, ‘Mr. Kicks’ and, ‘When Malindy sings’, both of which are regarded as jazz vocal classics and been re-issued separately on various artist compilations. Both songs feature on the first album, but the latter is probably the stronger all round, containing a wonderful take on Nat Adderley‘s, ‘Work song’, that Oscar added lyrics to, as he did also on another soul-jazz anthem, ‘Date dere’, originally a Bobby Timmons composition. Hipsterdom is very much on the agenda on, ‘But I was cool’, and the very last song on the album, ‘Afro-Blue’, is a version to rival that of the late great Abbey Lincoln. Of the bonus tracks, Brown courageously make an excellent attempt at a song Nat Cole co-wrote, ‘Straighten up and fly right’, and became immortal for the earlier vocal version, while, ‘Sixteen tons’, is a terrific uptempo jazz vehicle. Soul Jam have really cut no corner in terms of the abundant and excellent quality of the graphical illustrations of the singer. These range from album/single covers to magazine covers (Brown Jr. was on the front cover of Down Beat magazine in 1962 for example), black and white/colour photos of the singer at various stages of his career and original album notes are brought up to date with new notes. It is something of a surprise that he did not become a bigger name given his extraordinary creative talents and these included writing a musical adaptation of a play about a black militant named Buck White that played on Broadway in 1969. In fact, the singer played the role a year later in San Francisco. Given the few examples we have of Oscar Brown Jr. (no live recordings for example), and another Columbia album, ‘Tell it is like it is!’, that is now is a hard to find album on vinyl (but some tracks are available on a BGP compilation by Dean Rudland worth checking out) and, only briefly re-issued on CD via the Collectables series, this latest re-packaging is most welcome and a first port of call.

Tim Stenhouse

Nostalgia 77 ‘Fifteen’ 2LP/2CD/Dig (Tru-Thoughts) 4/5

One of the underrated gems of the modern British jazz scene and veering well beyond during the last fifteen years, this wide ranging compilation celebrates the brainchild of the group, Ben Lamdin, and is a first and foremost a retrospective of the group creator. As such, it features the leader as performer and producer and in disparate genres ranging from jazz and soul to dub, hip hop, psychedelia and taking in a little blues and funk along the way. However, this is very much an anthology that allows the lengthier jazz pieces to sit side by side with the shorter pieces and is to be congratulated for doing so. One illustration of the latter, which was released as a double AA single to showcase the album is the gentle soul of, ‘Quiet dawn’, with Beth Rowley featured on vocals, and here the band playing is sensitive with a slight folk-soul edge and a warm saxophone solo. Afro-Beat tinged percussive workouts are exemplified on tracks such as, ‘Freedom’, with a drum roll out of the Tony Allen school, and equally, ‘Positive force’, with a strong big band feel. In fact, Nostalgia 77 work best, to these ears at least, when they are in their nonet formation and happily this anthology provides some fine examples of that extended brass ensemble work. A real favourite is the lyrical horn work to be found on, ‘Desert fairy princess’, and the expansive sound created on, ‘Measures’. Among influences, the Oliver Nelson and Charles Mingus big bands spring to mind and even Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, though on the modal post-bop, ‘Louts tree’. it is mid-1960’s John Coltrane and a tribute of sorts to the seminal, ‘A Love Supreme’, with a fine trombone solo. Female vocalists accompanying are a specialty of the band and one discovery for this writer was a project between Nostalgia 77 and British 1970 jazz icons, Julie and Keith Tippett from a 2009 album. The vocals of the former on the excellent, ‘You just don’t dream when you sleep’, disprove any belief that musicians of different eras cannot combine to useful effect. Singer Alice Russell is an artist in her own right with Tru-Sounds and well worth checking her back catalogue. Here, she offers, ‘Seven nations army’. Reggae dub is a different genre altogether, but on, ‘Medicine crest dub’, the band makes a decent stab. More sedate and substantial playing can be heard on the lovely, ‘Solstice’, worthy of an ECM release, with beautifullt pared down piano and trumpet in tandem, and, the tender, ‘Wildflower’.

Overall, a well balanced anthology, that is fully reflective of the different moods and styles that Nostaglia 77 are capable of capturing, and shedding a well deserved beacon of light on the South East England music scene, and especially that in and around Brighton, which is the label home of Tru-Thoughts. Fans of this compilation will want to explore further and the good news is that the band offer both quality and quantity in equal measure. For jazzier hues, try, ‘Borderlands’ and, ‘Everything under the sun’, while the live, ‘Seven’s and Eight’s’, takes the octet sound a step further. Those who prefer the more dance oriented flavours will find their nirvana in the double CD, ‘One off’s, remixes and B-sides’.

Tim Stenhouse

TY ‘A Work Of Heart’ (Jazz re:freshed) 4/5

London based rapper, producer and spoken word artist Ty returns with his fifth full-length release, although his first since 2010, and it’s here that we see Ty join the jazz re:freshed family for their latest addition to their small but growing and well curated record label. Ty predominantly handles most of the production, with additional beat making duties by Detroiter Tall Black Guy and further vocal augmentations from a variety of vocalists and rappers, with 10 of the 14 tracks featuring guests.

‘Eyes Open’ features the woefully underused Deborah Jordan adding vocalisations and chorus parts with Ty utilising double time rhyming couplets to tackle issues of race, identity and social positioning. The DJ friendly ‘Somehow Somewhere Someway’ with its Roy Ayers-esque chord progression, Afro-beat influenced drum pattern and guest vocals by Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets, is a perfect combination of ingredients. Maybe a contemporary album from Umar Bin Hassan is needed in these socially confusing times. ‘Brixton Baby’ is a personal story of Ty’s upbringing in the South London borough with both negative and positive experiences highlighted. Mpho adds the final rap verse but maybe the current growing gentrification of the area could have also been challenged. ‘Work Of Heart’ and ‘Raindrops’ are both solo pieces and ‘Marathon’ includes Ladonna Harley-Peters in the refrain sections with the piece tackling the everyday struggles of modernity.

The two-step soul of ‘No Place To Run’ features Nechells, Birmingham native but Atlanta resident Julie Dexter providing two of the three verses for possibly my favourite track of the set with the ever consistent Jason Yarde adding some non-solo saxophone parts. ‘You Gave Me’ is a reflective ode to Ty’s family and the positive childhood he encountered in regards to how it could have been a very destructive environment, with some uncredited (and rather quiet) trumpet parts. ‘Harpers Revenge’ with its added effective flute augmentations will suit the DJ fraternity and ‘World of Flaws’ is pretty self-explanatory. The final piece, ‘As The Smoke Clears’, which is wholly produced by Tall Black Guy is another soulfully abundant track with guests including vocalist Randolph Matthews and MC Malik from Moorish Delta 7, another Birmingham, UK artist.

Ty reminds me of Guru from Gang Starr and Jazzmatazz fame, insomuch that his delivery is not very dynamic but more conversational, and his relationship with music outside of the hip hop genre is fused within his own compositions. Although examining the negatives, Ty can be quite literal rather than lateral and abstract within his writing, which can possibly lead to a sense of predictability for a complete album listening experience. And being the main producer as well as the artist for an entire project is always difficult. I would have loved to see Ty collaborate with the new wave of young jazz musicians in London (Shabaka, Moses, Nubya, Yussef, Ezra Collective et al) of which the jazz re:freshed organisation are so connected to, which would also provide some fantastic live opportunities.

Personally speaking, I didn’t fall for the album immediately; that came later. I would argue that some tracks are somewhat safe for an artist of Ty’s ability and pedigree. The more personal songs are the core and strength to the record, and the additional vocalists and musicians support Ty’s journey here perfectly. But the supplementary rappers tended not to add much extra value to what was already provided by Ty himself – but this has been an on-going issue within hip hop for years.

Having followed Ty’s work since 2002 and having met him on a few occasions at events while DJing, he’s one of the most genuine and likable people you are ever likely to meet. But Ty is quite a unique artist in the UK in that he successfully combines the worlds of hip hop, jazz and soul unlike others in the country, but I feel he needs to exploit this advantage and his position more. As mentioned, greater use of high calibre musicians could be the key but in both the recording and the live arena. But nonetheless, some very strong tracks are presented here, but I feel there is still more to come from Ty.

Damian Wilkes

Jah Schulz ‘A Railroad Session’ (Railroad) 2/5

But first, a personal moan. Of all the many sub genres operating under the umbrella’s of Reggae and Dub music Digital Steppers Dub aka Digi Dub has been one of the longest serving especially in Western Europe in England, Germany, France et al. It is also at times the most (after many years in existence) the most monotonous and repetitive sub genre ever created with only a handful of real classic underground releases from the producers and players of the scene during this time, indeed the genre drowned itself many moons ago yet it still continues to trundle on year after year due to support of various ‘small tribes’ and underground DJs/Soundsystems that embrace this sub genre.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a handful of albums within said genre that have given my ears absolute pleasure on rare occasion, artists like Don Fe, El Bib, and a handful of Conscious Sounds releases amongst others from the first wave digital dub underground innovators arena not forgetting of course some of the originators like Messian Dread, Mixman, Alpha and Omega et al and the second wave movers Doktor Lond, Panda Dub, Switchy Dub, Dog Dub and others who are known to push boundaries within their digi dub mixing and offer a progression with their works, moving forward and innovating with some attitude whilst keeping the faith to the style, yet so many times whilst searching for the new I have discovered artists or shall I say ‘producers’ as they like to call themselves on various platforms and profiling sites where their music I have to say is on the whole tedious, a robotic samey to the point of it being basically ‘dub by numbers’ and that’s the shame, there is so much of the weak stuff out there swamping the rare strong stuff and unless you’re in the know or have hundreds of hours each week to search for the rare strong stuff chances are you’re unlikely to come across much of it. So much of it has been published online and also pressed onto vinyl especially between 2010 and 2014 and for every cool Don Fe and Doktor Lond tune there are a hundred others who offer no experimentation nor push boundaries just offering safe and boring by numbers loop music and it’s all of those type of creators that make it difficult for me to appreciate this sub genre fully simply because it has drowned itself by repetition shall I dare say by wannabe musicians.. Believe me I have heard over the years some absolute awfulness within this sub genre, It’s like panning for gold. Well, less christmas cards for me this coming Noel I suspect. I wont lose sleep over that however.

A bucket load of ‘producers’ utilizing paid for drum loops, bass lines and sounds pre made and available in (and I’m told easy to put together) ‘pay for’ packages… Well is that real musicianship? Of course one has to instinctively know and feel the riddim to be able to put these things together which equals a studio technician, a musician of sorts? I’m not wholly convinced. A die-hard defender could however state that this digi dub steppers style is really made just for soundsystems and radio DJs so the musician element doesn’t really need to be discussed, it’s not of the same sentiment, it’s not for the same audience?

I guess I just appreciate people playing instruments by hand if possible either in a band setting or by multi overdubbing by a duo or trio, it’s the real hands on vibe I dig , mistakes, bum notes and all which makes it real music, a feeling, not airbrushed. There is something about digi dub steppers style that doesn’t sit well with me, neither does making music solely by computer and programmes, it never has and then there is that awful childlike instrument that seems to permeate 80% of total output ever published throughout this sub genre; the ear hurting Melodica and to be frank there really isn’t a great deal one can do with a Melodica other than filter the hell out of it, a bit like those horrible little tinny flutes at school, it’s OK for a minute but for years.. OK now I’ve had my chucking the toys out of the pram moment and with this next album to review do we have another yawn or a nice break at dawn..?

Here we have an album by Germany’s Jah Schulz, a 6 tracker plus 2 versions, and the track listing is presented as if from vinyl and in traditional vinyl running time which is always a plus for me with albums.

A Side 1 to A4 and B Side 1 to B4: A pretty standard affair kicks off the album with what sounds like a heavily filtered or synthesised melodica with a very bass heavy riddim on a piece called ‘Dub Sensor’. A piece called ‘Go See The Dub’ has the (once) obligatory Yabby You snare drum fill samples helping to keep the riddim rolling along and has some nice bass tone manipulations and echo effects leading into a synth wash bridge conjuring up an eastern atmosphere, well put together yet I’m positive I’ve heard all this exact same thing countless of times even down to tempo and the chords chosen, well trodden ground. ‘Rise Up’ has cool percussive elements rolling through its mix and synthesized trumpets providing the backdrop over a laid back groove with some nice reverbs, this piece reminds me of French dub producer ‘Jahno’ from the end of the first wave era. The saving grace for my ears on this album is its last piece B Side 4 entitled ‘AfriKan Powa’ featuring Sirius Soulboy which is an eclectic sonic fusion, a percussive led minimalist work and it is with this piece that I am reminded that there is still some hope for original thought when constructing music with pure digi dub.

Overall a well executed mixing using tried and trusted parts, effects and synth noises and settings that have been in use for over 10 years now so where is the attitude?, the progression? the new? it’s like it has its own rules sometimes and one as an artist must not sway and upset the apple cart.

I usually decline in reviewing digi steppers dub albums just because there isn’t much one can really say (on the whole) about them in an in-depth review other than the words Hypnotic, Loops, Computer, Melodica and then bigging up the sound crew and whoever did the mastering with a steady diet of this for the ears day in day out? well… I’ll take a bit of lo fi Messian Dread with mine any day. Check out the Hypnotic album by Jah Schulz entitled ‘A Railroad Session’ you may dig it. It rolls with the bassline and has a warm production. A heavy 2 from me. 2/5 Could it be a nice yawn at the break of dawn?

Gibsy Rhodes

Kit Downes ‘Obsidian’ LP/CD (ECM) 3/5

ECM has rightly acquired a reputation for not pandering to conventional tastes and promoting left-field projects whenever possible. This is a case in point. Pianist Kit Downes is best known for his work in trios and sideman for larger ensembles, but for his ECM leader debut, he breaks the mold by performing on a variety of church organs in Suffolk and at the Union Chapel in London. It has to be stated that this is not really a jazz recording, though other jazz pianists have occasionally reverted to the sound of the organ, including on less than Fats Waller and on one piece, ‘Modern Gods’, Downes is joined by tenor saxophonist, Tom Challenger. A real treat is a fascinating rendition of the traditional folk number, ‘Black is the colour’, which Nina Simone famously sang. Otherwise, the compositions are the leader’s own. The project as a whole is devoted to the late pianist John Taylor, who was not averse himself to the occasional organ performance.

Tim Stenhouse

Bobo Stenson Trio ‘Contra La Indecisión’ CD (ECM) 4/5

There has been a wait of some six years for this trio to record together again with the much praised, ‘Indicum’ setting a high bar to match, and yet the belated follow up is every bit as strong and reflective. It is no accident that this trio have performed as one for over three decades and this includes being the rhythm section for, at different periods, both Charles Lloyd and Tomasz Stanko. Some have remarked on the parallel with the classic Bill Evans trio that included bassist Scott La Faro, whose life was tragically taken away, and certainly those comparisons are not without merit. On this occasion, however, the album is a good deal more straightforward than it’s predecessor, and for that reason is easier to digest for listeners who may be new to the trio. Once again, Stenson showcases his love of both Cuban and Spanish music, with the title track a delightful composition by singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez who is something of a hero for the Swedish leader. Another treat is an interpretation of the Catalan classical composer Frederic Mompou, with an extended version of, ‘Cancion y danza VI’, while quite possibly strongest of all is a refined reading of the Erik Satie piece, ‘Elégie’, which starts off in a more conventional classical vein, but then as the piece develops shifts into jazz and later rapid mode. As a whole, this is a recording that is full of intimate creativity, even if the extended bow playing will not be to everyone’s liking. An exemplary piano trio performance.

Tim Stenhouse

Various ‘Svensk Jazzhistoria Vol. 11: Jazz Cosmopolit – Swedish Jazz History 1970-1979’ 4CD (Caprice) 5/5

Spanning an entire decade of jazz musicians in Sweden (though excluding resident overseas jazz artists such as Don Cherry whose, ‘Organic Music Society’ was re-issued by Caprice a few years back and is well worth investigating) and covering myriad styles from mainstream to hard bop, to fusion, taking on board free, world beats and Latin jazz, with big band and vocals not forgotten, this is a wide ranging anthology and one that any scholar of modern European jazz will wish to have in his/her collection. It includes musicians who came to prominence in the 1960s such as Alice Babs, Georg Riedl and Monica Zetterlund (the latter internationally thanks to her collaboration with Bill Evans), as well as a whole new generation of Swedish artists who soaked up the new developments in the US of the late 1960’s. What emerges is less of a copycat version of across the Atlantic, and more of a gradual clearly identifiably Swedish and Scandinavian sound, though there is no single voice for sure that dominates. A very brief illustration of the ECM label is made here, with the Bobo Stenson quartet featuring a then young Jan Garbarek on a memorable, ‘Witchi tai-to’, though there are ample examples of that label in its infancy elsewhere. The music divides up chronologically, with the four CD’s roughly covering between two and three years per disc. Various domestic labels are covered and, needless to say, these would be virtually impossible to find outside of the country and its near neighbours.

Helping to guide the non-Swedish jazz expert through this weighty tome is a beautifully illustrated and user friendly inner sleeve booklet of some one hundred and eighty eight pages, in both English and Swedish, though the latter naturally has pride of place and space. British jazz writer Stuart Nicholson has written a lengthy ten page introduction which sets the scene admirably, and thereafter there is an English language résumé of other sections in Swedish. Hitherto unheard of formations such as fusion band Oriental Wind are an interesting discovery, all the more so when one looks more closely at the band members and find out that Palle Danielson, Bobo Stenson and Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz are among the musicians. Free jazz band Mount Everest are another discovery and the innovations of Ornette Coleman did not go unnoticed with some. A major band leader to emerge during the 1970’s is alto saxophonist Bernt Rosengrans who, on this anthology, performs in both quartet and orchestral formats and is a fine musician and composer.

While there too many highlights to single out all individually, mention must nonetheless be made of the following formation who were influential in Sevda. On first appearance, they may look and even sound somewhat like a Swedish take on Pentangle. That is where is the parallel ends, however, for Sevda, were a band that fused world beats, especially Turkish, and folk-based jazz. The previous ten volumes go all the way back to the very origins of jazz at the very beginning of the twentieth century and especially noteworthy are volume 7, which is considered by Swedish jazz enthusiasts as a golden era between 1952 and 1955, coinciding incidentally, with the rise of Swedish film directors such as Ingmar Bergman, and volume ten during the 1960’s, chronicled in these columns previously. A praiseworthy latest installment of a series that is a comprehensive guide to jazz in Sweden.

Tim Stenhouse

The Dubbeez ‘Peace, Love and Dub’ (V2 Benelux) 4/5

From the peace-loving city of Amsterdam cometh their first album by two times award-winning six piece band The Dubbeez. In 2013 they took the crown at the battle of the bands contest in Holland and likewise were winners of the world reggae contest held in Poland in 2016. Their official debut long player entitled Peace, Love and Dub is exactly that with ten tracks exploring club reggae with a roots backdrop complimenting the soulful female vocals and the Jamaican delivery tones of MC Quincy. A tightly knit band with a superbly competent riddim section with female bassist Olivia Davina and the Carlton Barret style drumming of the one Earl Maddy who is a master of Hi Hat shuffle and drum fills.

So lets “bring out the cards and shuffle” as MC Quincy would say on the soulful candle lit reggae groove of a piece called ‘Hangover’ a Steel Pulse vibe that showcases the contrasting vocals of Joanne and Quincy which continue flawless throughout the album, an album of multi tempo vibes from the commercial upbeat happy (and should be a single) ‘Feelings’ to the laid back easy JA vibe body swayer that is ‘Rudeboy’ and the pop reggae ‘love in’ of ‘I Love Me’ and everything else in between.

OK let’s get down to serious vibe business, the ultra strong -and this is one of the three tunes on the album that seal their professionalism and playing passion- album title track ‘Peace, Love and Dub’ with an absolutely crucial bass run that brings Jamaica into your living room played with pure confidence by Olivia accompanied by Earl’s reverbed rimshots and with Quincy in full vocal throws exclaiming “Peace, love and dub, that’s what we stand for” on the hookline, this tune also contains a very convincing brass ensemble backdrop, this piece has a real vintage style mixdown, an uptempo ‘coming at ya like a bat with the shits’ ie; with attitude crowd pleaser complete with an extended few bars of the tune showcasing the band in full flow playout, superb, a 12″ version of this would be cool.

The other standouts..? the aforementioned ‘Feelings’ which is a full on commercial radio friendly hit waiting to happen, a sunny afternoon festival pleaser and also the very cool roots rock reggae that is a piece entitled ‘Obsession’ and what I dig about this album is that all the players are given their time to shine respectively during certain pieces, each player has ‘their’ moment given high light and that includes this piece where the overdriven sounding lead guitar work of Milan is given prominence in the mix with its roots rock crucial solo’s and the niceness that is Bobby’s organ shuffle work during the tune that also stands out as does Earl’s 80s style dancehall minimalist drumming, all tied nicely together with soulful vocals and MC interjections. The album plays out with a tune called ‘On The Road’ an easy going rockers vibe that proclaims this band aint for stopping.

Is it a non stop crucial album? well, a couple of weaker tracks to my ears appear, the weakest track on the album musically is the opener track ‘Dont Walk Too Fast’ and the weakest track on the album content wise is a piece called ‘Hold Us’ It’s an OK tune but a touch self congratulatory lyrically for me, but that’s purely a question of my taste perhaps not yours. If you’re in the area then this is a must see band, the album is very easy on the ears to listen to at home in all occasions and I feel your ears will be even more delighted to catch them in full wall of sound concert. Enjoy the vibes, they’ve worked very hard as a tight and dedicated unit to get this far and they deserve all accolades. I have a feeling their next long player could well be a five outa five , I’m giving this a heavy four. Check out their official site for gig news at www.thedubbeez.com

Gibsy Rhodes