Tu Sheng Peng ‘Trouble Time (Makasound) 4/5

Following on from last year’s debut masterpiece ‘Around’, Tu Sheng Peng return with another excellent slice of contemporary roots reggae. If anything the Jamaican presence is even more impressive this time and features some of the cream of the crop vocalists still alive (Clinton Fearon of the Gladiators, Derek Harriott, Michael Rose, Rod Taylor)and a whole host of DJs from Prince Jazzbo, Tappa Zukie and daddy U-Roy to Ranking Joe, U-Brown and Joseph Cotton. As before the aim is to create an acoustic, authentic and organic roots feel from the 1970s and one would be hard pushed to find a similar band that can convincingly recreate this sound in Kingston. One of the albums surprises is the pairing of reggae producer and singer legend Derek Harriott with Bunny Brown on ‘I’m a believer’. This was a masterstroke and from the lovely fender intro is an absolute gem of a song. Likewise the welcome return to recording of Rod Taylor, now permanently settled in France, who is back on top form on the rootsy ‘Love grows’. It would be a mistake, however, to think that French singers cannot convey the feeling of roots reggae. Ras Daniel Ray, lead singer of the band, offers a superlative modern anthem in ‘Vision Land’ with accompanying righteous lyrics. This receives a DJ version over the same riddim courtesy of Joseph Cotton. An added bonus is the instrumental piece ‘True love can never die’, which showcases the considerable talent of the recently departed trumpeter and long-time member of the Skatalites Johnny Moore. He will be greatly missed and this will serve as a fitting memory to him. One hopes that at some point promoters will see fit to bring the Tu Sheng Peng live act to the UK.

Tim Stenhouse