Roger Steffens “”I think it would be a travesty if Snoop wins…”

“While I see Roger’s point here, and agree with his sentiment, it doesn’t really matter in my humble opinion.  The Reggae Grammy is a joke.  The judges on the Grammy committee seem to know very little to absolutely nothing about music that matters, especially reggae music.  Bottom line is Snoop sold 80,000+ units, and will surely sell many more as a result of this publicity.  It is absolutely a damning indictment of the current reggae market, which is seemingly made up of know-nothings with no soul and an even lesser ear for music.”

- Raver

Roger Steffens, who headed the Grammy Awards Reggae Committee for 27 years, says it would be a travesty if American rapper Snoop Lion won the Best Reggae Album category at next month’s show.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Steffens described Snoop as a “pretentious wanna-be”. He is also not impressed with nominees for Best Reggae Album who were announced last Friday in Los Angeles.

“I think it would be a travesty if Snoop wins. He, like Matisyahu and many others before him, have used a Rasta-influenced format and warped it toward their own ends,” said Steffens. Snoop (formerly Snoop Dogg) is nominated for Reincarnated. He says his conversion to Rastafari was inspired by a visit to Jamaica in 2012 when he experienced a spiritual awakening while meeting with a group of Rastafarian elders.

Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters’ Reggae Connection, Sizzla’s The Messiah, One Love, One Life by Beres Hammond and Ziggy Marley in Concert are the other nominees for Best Reggae Album.

Steffens formed the Reggae Committee and served as its chairman until 2011. He has openly criticised the selection process, claiming that judges favour albums produced by the Marley family.

The Marleys have dominated the category since it was established in 1985. Brothers Ziggy, Damian and Stephen have won Grammys as solo acts, while Ziggy and Steve won multiple times as members of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

Steffens with Keith Richards at the Reggae Archives

Steffens with Keith Richards at the Reggae Archives

Steffens, considered an authority on Bob Marley and the Wailers, believes this year’s nominees maintain the trend of mediocre selections. “The nominations this year fit into the pocket of name recognition more than anything else, regardless of sales or actual quality,” he said.

Reincarnated, with sales of over 80,000 units, is the best selling reggae album for 2013. The year has been poor in terms of sales by Jamaican artistes, with American reggae bands performing better on the Billboard charts. The Snoop set attracted mass coverage from mainstream media in the United States, due to his conversion from ‘gangsta rap’ icon to cultural artiste.

The lanky rapper (real name Calvin Broadus) is one of the godfathers of gangsta rap which emerged out of southern California’s impoverished communities in the early 1990s with hardcore rap acts such as NWA and Ice T. The 56th annual Grammy Awards is scheduled for the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on January 26.

Source: jamaicaobserver.com , jahblemmuzik.com

To read more about ‘Snoop Lion’, CLICK HERE.

Steel Pulse “Save Black Music” 12″ (Elektra)

And here we have yet another Steel Pulse vinyl single, “Save Black Music” from the Grammy Award-winning album Babylon The Bandit.  Overall, a mediocre effort from Steel Pulse with several outstanding tracks.  The opening track “Save Black Music” is striking as the opening track.  This is a different sound and vibe from Steel Pulse.  Although David Hinds’ lyrics remain conscious and strong, Steel Pulse enter a horrid phase characterized by the overuse of synthesizers, which was a development that emerges in the 1980s.  Still an interesting listen if you are a fan.  The first track on this 12″ has a distinctly different mix.  Track 2 is the instrumental and Track 3 is the LP version.

1. Save Black Music (Vocal Extended)
2. Instrumental
3. LP Version

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Weeks, James. The Reggae & African Beat (Archive- 1983-1988)6. 2 (Apr 1, 1987)- 26-29-1

Weeks, James. The Reggae & African Beat (Archive- 1983-1988)6. 2 (Apr 1, 1987)- 26-29-2

Weeks, James. The Reggae & African Beat (Archive- 1983-1988)6. 2 (Apr 1, 1987)- 26-29-3

Weeks, James. The Reggae & African Beat (Archive- 1983-1988)6. 2 (Apr 1, 1987)- 26-29-4

Black Uhuru “Conquer The Tanker” 12 inch (RAS) 1985

Included here is a rare Black Uhuru 12″ titled “Conquer The Tanker.”  The single, pressed on the RAS label in 1985, features Junior Reid on the vocal.  It is backed with a track called “Reggae With You.”  It was recorded by Steven Stanley in Jamaica during the ‘Brutal‘ sessions. Killer Reid-era track!

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Black Uhuru feat. Puma Jones & Junior Reid Live at Chestnut Cabaret, 1985

It is fitting to share this rare gem now, considering we just posted the interview with Doctor Dread yesterday.  Michael Rose left Black Uhuru in 1984 and the group was promptly dropped by Island Records just one year after winning the first ever reggae Grammy Award for ‘Anthem.’  Rose was promptly replaced by his good friend and fellow Waterhouse native Junior Reid.  Doctor Dread, a longtime fan of the group, goes to NYC to ink the deal with Duckie Simpson’s lawyer and Black Uhuru, now a RAS Records act, get to work on the ‘Brutal’ album.  ‘Brutal,’ produced by Doctor Dread, Black Uhuru, Steven Stanley, and Arthur Baker, is recorded by Steven Stanley at Music Mountain in Jamaica.  The album is mixed by Jim Fox in Washington, DC, Arthur Baker in NYC (Great Train Robbery), and Steven Stanley back at Music Mountain in Jamaica.  The album is released in 1986 and receives a Grammy nod, along with the ‘Brutal Dub’ album.  Interesting note:  The album contains the heavy, roots laden track “Dread In The Mountain,” which is voiced by Junior Reid.  This same tune was a minor nhit for Reid in Jamaica several years earlier under the name “Chanting.”

So it’s 1985, the group has just signed with RAS, and they have not yet worked out the songs that will comprise the ‘Brutal’ album.  This set of circumstances makes for a one-of-a-kind Black Uhuru show in Philadelphia, 1985.  The show opens with Reid performing two of his solo hits “Shack A Lack” and “Original Foreign Mind” (mislabeled as “Worry Dem” in the archived setlist).  The remainder of the show is comprised of songs from earlier Black Uhuru albums.

So here is a show that catches Black Uhuru in transition.  Although the show is not labeled with respect to the date or venue, it occurred on August 13, 1985 at the Chestnut Theatre It is a true rarity because it showcases the talents of both Junior Reid and Puma Jones (who passed away in 1990).  Great sound quality too for an audience recording.

 

1. Black Uhuru – Shack’a Lak Rock
2. Black Uhuru – Original Foreign Mind
3. Black Uhuru – What is Life?
4. Black Uhuru – Black Uhuru Anthem
5. Black Uhuru – Shine Eye Girl
6. Black Uhuru – Plastic Smile
7. Black Uhuru – General Penetentiary
8. Black Uhuru – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
9. Black Uhuru – Emotional Slaughter

‘Salute Di General': Biggz General drops long-awaited mixtape

 I first heard about BIGGZ GENERAL through one of the reggae blogs that read, the Jah Blem Musik blog.  BIGGZ GENERAL is the latest from a long line of multi-talented musicians and performers going back to the greatest musician and performer of our time, Biggz’ grandfather NESTA ROBERT MARLEY.  A product of GHETTO YOUTHS UNITED, his mother was one of three angel-voiced anchors of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, and a muli-Grammy winner in her own right, Sharon Marley Pendergast, the biological daughter of Ms. Rita Marley.
So with a pedigree like that what can you expect from BIGGZ GENERAL?  FINALLY you can hear it for yourself!  Biggz recently released his long-awaited mixtape, and you can get it HERE!
You can expect to hear more from BIGGZ GENERAL soon.  Stay tuned, stay connected  to the MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG…

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“BIGGZ GENERAL – SALUTE DI GENERAL mixtape
Ghetto youths international, REBEL massive & Dj Tom LAROC
& a message of love & inspiration and you are apart of JAH ARMY
LIKE BREDDA JESSE ROYAL say UNi = one VERSE = Song. all a WE!!!! wid ONE VOICE WID DI SAME MESSAGE…… ONE PERFECT LOVE ONE RIGHTEOUS AIM & ONE ULTIMATE DESTINY.”

Bob Marley Interview from Oui Magazine, February 1976

There is a reason why Joe Jurgenson was the first person I asked to come on board as a Co-Editor at MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG.  We were talking about whether this print interview is considered rare and he says”Rare? Fuck rare.  Rare is a pre-1900 Martin.  A magazine article, not so much.”  Still bent over that one.
Included here is a profile of Bob Marley by journalist Scott Cohen which was published in the February 1976 issue of Oui, a U.S. gentlemans magazine – “for the man of the world” is their motto.  According to the MIDNIGHT DREAD, it is the first Bob Marley interview published by a  U.S. periodical.  Give thanks…this is one you don’t see every day.  But according to Joe, not rare.

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Album Review: Ziggy Marley Live in Concert

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While I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of conscious reggae album releases in 2012, even stunned by Midnite’s Children of Jah (an album I picked as the best of the year, I must say that it is Ziggy Marley’s Live in Concert that I was anticipating the most.  I have been a fan of Ziggy’s ever since he jumped upon the international scene with Play The Game Right and Hey World in the mid-1980s.  Of course redemption came early for Ziggy and his Melody Makers when 1987’s Conscious Party won over the radio-listening “tuff crowd” to become one of the year’s best albums, even capturing the reggae Grammy in Los Angeles.  However, when Ziggy broke from the Melody Makers in 2000, something drastically changed and his music started to meander down a folksy road, picking up a little Ben Harper and Jack Johnson on the ride.  That said, I hear from many fans whose opinions I respect on reggae, who tell me that my pallette is not refined enough to grasp what he is doing.  Fair point.  I apologize for being stuck on ‘Wise & Foolish’  while the rest of the world was discovering ‘Labour of Love.’
Please go to World-A-Reggae to finish reading….

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“Reggae In My Head” from Ziggy Marley’s forthcoming live album

Got my hands on another track from Ziggy Marley’s new live album.  Last week we shared with you a leak from the album called “Personal Revolution,” the strongest track on his Wild and Free album.  This week its “Reggae In My Head.”
Five-time Grammy winner and reggae icon Ziggy Marley’s new live album, Ziggy Marley In Concert, will be released exclusively on iTunes on December 18th. A worldwide physical and digital release date is set for January 15th, 2013 via Tuff Gong Worldwide. Recorded throughout Ziggy’s Wild and Free 2012 tour, the live album includes selections from his 2011 Grammy®-nominated studio release Wild And Free, as well as two Bob Marley classics, “War” and “Is This Love,” and several fan-favorites from his earlier career.

Tracklisting:
1. Higher Vibrations
2. Personal Revolution
3. Welcome To The World
4. Beach In Hawaii
5. Reggae In My Head
6. Jah Will Be Done
7. Forward To Love
8. Tomorrow People
9. Justice-War (medley)
10. Changes
11. True To Myself
12. Black Cat
13. Love Is My Religion
14. Is This Love
15. Wild And Free

Junior Reid & Don Carlos ‘Firehouse Clash’ (1986)

Crucial album by two of Waterhouse’s superstars.  Simply one of the finest records of the past 30 years, ‘Firehouse Rock’ features Black Uhuru’s Junior Reid and Don Carlos at their very best.  If you don’t have this album, buy it now if you can find a copy (it has been out of print for many years).

Note:  The first track “Chanting” is the early alternative version of “Dreadlocks In The Mountain,” which appears on the Grammy-nominated Brutal album.  Both Junior Reid and Don Carlos feature heavily throughout my interview with the legendary Garth Dennis, founder of Black Uhuru.  Please take a minute to read it HERE.

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Playlist :

Junior Reid – Chanting
Junior Reid – Respect Due
Junior Reid – Mirror
Junior Reid – Woman Change Your Ways *
Junior Reid – Children Playing
Don Carlos – Living In The City
Don Carlos – No Trouble This
Don Carlos – Black History *
Don Carlos – No Follow Babylon
Don Carlos – Never Gonna Give Up
Don Carlos – Spread Out *

Producer : Delroy Wright

Engineer : Oswald Palmer & Crucial Bunny & Noel Hearne
Mixing Engineer : Noel Hearne

Vocals : Don Carlos & Junior Reid
Backing Vocals : Al Campbell
Drums : Boo Richards & Clevie
Bass : Robbie & Ranchie
Guitar : Dwight Pickney & Dougie Bryan
Synthesiser : Mallory Williams & Robert Lynn
Keyboards : Robert Lynn & Ansel Collins
Alto Saxophone : Dean Fraser
Saxophone : Dean Fraser
Percussions : Errol Graham & Sydney Wolf

Studios :
Recording : Channel One (Kingston, JA) & Aquarius (Kingston, JA) & Music Mountain (Kingston, JA)
Mixing : Music Mountain (Kingston, JA)

Black Uhuru ‘Anthem’ LP Original Recording (Jamaican Mix) 1984

Today I’m sharing the original, unreleased recording of the Grammy Award-winning ‘Anthem’ album by Black Uhuru.  The album that Island released in 1984 contains these same tracks, however, the tracks on the Island release were substantially edited in order to make the album more appealing to the rock/pop listener.  The original mix of the album – which is presented here – is the Anthem album just the way Duckie, Michael, and Puma envisioned and recorded it.  All tracks are in their original, full-length, un-edited mix.

The Anthem album was the very first reggae album to win a Grammy Award – the pinnacle of music awards in the U.S.  The album, composed primarily by Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, describes the difficulty of righteous living, anger at the state of the world, and calls down blessings upon children around the world. The track “Black Uhuru Anthem” is the closest to a manifesto the band would ever get, encompassing the members’ religious devotion, militant politics, and cultural concerns. Sly & Robbie, sympathetic to Uhuru’s aim, keep the arrangement and production relatively straightforward, creating a rootsy backdrop with Darryl Thompson’s lovely, almost jangly guitar leads accentuating the song’s melody. It’s a lovely piece and one of the highlights of the group’s Grammy-winning Anthem album.

My personal favorite, and without a doubt my favorite Uhuru tune of all time, is the thumping and dreadful “Bull In The Pen,” which describes something that every human being can relate to in this crazy, unjust, and evil world – contained rage. 

“Fence cyan hold, too much bull inna de pen…”

Interesting nugget:  Steven Van Zandt AKA Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band and HBO’s Sopranos fame wrote and produced the hit “Solidarity.”