wow, some “dance” promos which are actually worth writing about… lots of people will hate these – if you’re a reggae purist or some kind of minimal techno spod, then you need read no further!
Talen – Kingston Book (Mouthwatering Records)
Time to note the effect that globalisation has had on the ultra-localist dancehall world, I guess. As Stelfox pointed out in his Guardian piece a while back, music sales are especially down in JA (bootleg CDs being the main method of circulation). But vocalists can still turn a dollar by performing and especially by voicing dubplate specials.
So this global network has evolved of little studios (in some cases simply one man and a laptop) who record artists on tour and offer up dubplate specials over the internet. This is potentially quite exciting as it means anyone can in theory access the the cream of the crop of JA’s vocalists and get a personalised vocal off them. The only limits are of course whether or not you can afford it and the gentleman’s agreement that the vocal won’t come out as a properly released tune.
Of course there is no guarantee you’ll get a decent performance out of said vocalist. Generic dubs along the line of “[name of your sound] is the champion, come to mash down all soundbwoy, [name of your DJ] is the greatest selector yadda yadda yadda [insert catchphrase or well known chorus of vocalist here].” abound.
But morally and economically this is more tenable than simply ripping off another bogstandard accapella and sticking a wobbling bass underneath it.
The studio network also opens up the field for more interesting collaborations. This release from Swiss crew Talen features both Sizzla and Cutty Ranks. They have got some nice performances out of both of them, so clearly some work has been put in by all parties – although the dubplate culture is pretty transparent with all the mentions of “Talen Sound”.
Sizzla chants down the “undercover cops who investigate the music” over a rasping synth and shuffly beats. Proper “big room” chorus. Stereotyp provides a cavernous remix which sounds like an offcut of The Bug’s output. Which I think is fine – there is more room in my world for noisy ragga filth, especially with Sizzla on top. This lacks some of the fine detail of Kevin Martin’s palette, but still provides that critical adrenaline fix.
Cutty Ranks isn’t really known for his customer-focused approach to business, even by reggae vocalist standards. But here he really brings it with rhymes like “viper/hyper/sniper” and many many more. Backing is a bit more restrained with some spag-western touches. Markus Kienzl (who?) starts his remix with slightly jarring Boards of Canada-esque ambience and then slams in them “dancey”-ragga beats and some nice stabs.
There’s some good energy here – might be a bit too “big room rave” for some. It is what it is and I’ll take this over monochrome DJ mix fodder any day of the week.
321 vs TIM HEALEY & DEEKLINE – Bring It Back (Giant Pussy)
“Shake shake shake it all abaht, man’s got bare champagne in me mouf”
Blimey, it’s gone a bit cockney yardie again – good oh! Nice combination of pumping bass, steelpan, carnival whistles and samba beats. And lyrics about bringing back dances of yesteryear – bogle dance, butterfly, robot dance, running man – is good!
Six mixes which I suppose are aimed at keeping different types DJs happy. It all gets a bit functional really. But! 321, Tim Healey and Deekline collaborate on a couple of cuts which are the ones for me.
Deekline is responsible for novelty 2step hit “I Don’t Smoke” which sampled Jim Davidson, right? I always thought that was boss. No doubt I am alone in that, but [slams hand down on the table] my popism will triumph over every other fucker’s purism in the end.
On one mix they even bring Bounty Killer into the equation for what would seem to be an original vocal unless any of the spotter massif can correct me on that score. Bounty Killer! He’s hardly “rent-a-dread”, is he? Bounty Killer, ffs! Proper stupid bring-a-smile-to-your-face when you’ve had a shit week business.