Various ‘Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and Idrens vol. 2’ (Makasound/Inna de yard) 4/5

Way back in the 1970s it was the tradition for aspiring singers and groups in Jamaica to preview songs in front of a producer in the open air back yards of Kingston. Makasound hit upon the idea of reviving this practice, introducing a series of artists with minimalist instrumentation and showcasing some of roots reggae’s greatest practitioners. Volume two provides highlights of the aforementioned and includes Congo member Cedric Myton, Junior Murvin and Linval Thompson as well as groups of the calibre of the Mighty Diamonds and the Viceroys. Indeed it is some of the lesser known musicians that impress most with Kiddus I supplying a superb performance of his classic ‘Graduation in Zion’ with sparse instrumentation giving this cut a dubby feel that original producer Lee Perry would have appreciated. Of course the major names come up trumps with Chinna radically reworking Junior Byles’ ‘Fade away’ as a ballad and the Viceroys delivering an excellent ‘Yahoo’. Perhaps the most interesting finds are the new artists such as Matthew McAnuff (son of Winston?) with his delicious ‘Be careful’ and Barry Ford of long forgotten English roots group Merger and a lovely guitar/melodica take on ‘Rebel’. As ever the sound quality is excellent and the extra unreleased items make this one for the long, lazy summer days and evenings ahead.

Tim Stenhouse