Anyone who really knows TOP, knows, that Lenny Williams was the most incredible lead vocalist TOP has had, or will ever have. With that being said, new vocalist Hubert Tubbs had a tough act to follow, and filled the space admirably. His vocals on this album really are soulful, gruff, funky and moving. The songs here, 3 or 4 being instrumentals, are all first-rate TOP. The horn and rhythm section on this album is the BEST that TOP has ever had, period! Along with the albums "Bump City", "Tower Of Power", "Back To Oakland", "Urban Renewal" and "Live And In Living Color", this album is truly a gem among those other TOP classics!! And most important, it is funky like a mo-fo!
I'll keep this short because I'm too busy enjoying the music. No filler here -- just great 12" versions that will rock your party. High points include "Wah Do Dem" by Eek-A-Mouse, "Look Youthman" by Barrington Levy and my personal favorite, a stunning 7:56 long version of "Firehouse Rock" from the Wailing Souls, which closes out with about three righteous minutes of crackling, rocking dub.
If you've only heard the LP versions of these songs, you haven't really heard them. The 12" versions are so much better, combining the original hits with necessary B-side dub remix versions in all their trance-inducing fury.
What I especially love about the musical period represented here is that the electronics never got in the way of the melodies or the performances, in contrast to the often over-processed sound of today's music. This is a fine additon to your conscious party. Enjoy and peace.
1. Synopsis One: In The Ghetto / God Save The World
2. Poverty's Paradise
4. Synopsis Two: Mother's Day
5. Mother's Day
7. Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth
8. 24-Carat Black (Theme)
Dale Warren, the leader of this musical project, was one of those talented musicians and producers who eventually was overwhelmed by personal problems. But in the short time he was recording music he delivered this amazing album in 1973. "Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth" is a mesmerizing musical concoction; a blend of soul and funk and pop and rap. This music was light years ahead of its time. Warren and crew did not play sweet, short singles, but long and funky numbers, stained by tears and pain, with socially concious lyrical content. Nope, not your basic Top 40 formula. But this is music that lasts, and despite some of the 70s lamentations on here, it has aged very, very well. Still powerful stuff. In addition to the funky jams, there are some raps and vocals on a few track by Warren's wife. And the album's closer, the instrumental "24-Carat Black" (Theme) is a monster track, a true rhythm delight! Fans of 70s funk and soul; Don't miss this one!
Released back in 1991, this was an underrated debut album from the duo known as Nice & Smooth. The two offer some of the most creative hip-hop of all-time, especially with songs like "Hip-Hop Junkies". Of course, most people have never heard anything like the voice of Greg Nice, but that's the beauty of this album.
This showcase collection features all six of Jacob Miller's Augustus Pablo produced single A-sides back to back with their respective dub versions. It's a great collaboration: Miller's impassioned vocals, Pablo's uniquely strong rhythms, melodies and arrangements played by some of Jamaica's finest musicians; plus the legendary King Tubby at the mixing desk. All the tracks were recorded over an 18 month period (1974-75) at Randy's and Dynamic studios and provided much of the source material for the landmark "King Tubby meets rockers uptown" album, after being mixed at King Tubby's studio by the master himself.
Miller was still a teenager when he started working with Pablo, but handles each vocal performance with an assurance that belies his youthful inexperience, whether it's the dread lyrics of tracks like "False rasta" or love songs like "Baby I love you so", and Tubby's dub mixes beautifully complement the A-sides. Dub was still a relatively new phenomenon when these recordings were made and hardly known outside of Jamaica. The idea of stripping a track down to its bare bones, adding effects such as echo and reverb, and dropping its constituent musical elements in and out of the mix was pioneered by Tubby, opening the door to a whole new world of sonic exploration.
It's difficult to pick favourite tracks on a compilation as good as this one. The most famous of these singles is undoubtedly "Baby I love you so" or rather its dub version "King Tubby meets rockers uptown", which was one of the first examples of dub to make any sort of impact internationally. But from the opening "Keep on knocking", which begins with a statement of intent by Miller ("This is rockers! Original rockers!") it's non-stop quintessential mid-70's reggae from start to finish.
Miller wanted to make more records with Pablo (who can blame him?) but given Pablo's dire financial status (he was often dependent on many of the musicians playing on his records for free on the basis that he would do the same for them), the promises of fame and fortune from other producers soon became too tempting. Before long Miller would become hugely successful with his band Inner Circle, but artistically at least, he never surpassed the recordings on this album. Sadly he was killed in a car crash in 1980, while Tubby was tragically gunned down outside his studio in 1989 and Pablo died a decade later in 1999.
Although the rhythms collected together on "Who say Jah no dread" are all available elsewhere, these are the definitive versions and if you only ever buy one Augustus Pablo record make sure this is it. In view of the album's title it's also pertinent to mention that Pablo was a deeply religious man who often credited Jah as co-producer of his works and this one is no exception. On the sleeve, after the words "produced by Augustus Pablo" you can read the following in parenthesis: "produced by King Selassie I through his divine powers working through I and I to manifest these inspirations". What more can I say?
OK kids, it's rockin' time! Detroit's MC5 kicked off the '70s with a bang on Back in the USA, released January 15, 1970. A roadmap for punk's class of '77, the album condensed the epic, throbbing sprawl of Kick Out the Jams into the pure essence of rock & roll: machine gun blasts of pure energy and hooks, with nods to the founding fathers (Chuck Berry and Little Richard) and freshly-minted teen anthems for the ages ("Shakin' Street," "High School," "Tonight," "Teenage Lust," etc., etc.).
The Staple Singers enjoyed a brief spell when their popularity reached beyond the Soul fraternity and into the Pop charts and thus they are well known for a few classic singles. One of those appears here, "If You're Ready(Come and Go with Me)" and it gives you an idea of the quality contained in this album.
With a resolutely Southern Soul feel, this represents the best album the Staples ever recorded. While it seemed the rest of the Stax roster were busy extending the boundaries of Black music, the Staples kept faith with the elements of the music which had elevated the label to pre-eminance in the 60's. So you won't find overblown orchestration, or proto-disco here. What you will find are magnificent lead vocals (Mavis Staples has few equals), superb harmonies, and production which lets those voices take centre stage.
The Staples also kept faith with their Gospel roots, and there are a couple of tracks here that fit that profile - "If you're Ready" is essentially Gospel and "Heaven" has an ambiguous lyric which could be secular, but which in Mavis' hands must be a hymn to her God.
Stand out tracks are many, their version of Grandma's Hands for example is excellent and "the aformentioned "Heaven" is exactly that. But I would recommend this in it's entirety as an example of Soul at it's 70's best and as a musical counterpoint to the way some of their contemporaries were developing Black music.
Of course, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul got her start with What's the 411? in 1992 along with a blowout single 'Real Love' that proved she wasn't just an ordinary R&B singer. With famed success, of course we knew that she'd release a remix CD for her hit album (common back in the day) a year later to create a teaser for her November 1994 album 'My Life', which was evident from Diddy repeatin 'In 94, we got somethin new 4 yo azz'. All the remixes are the bomb, especially with teaser beats on the beginning of 'Real Love' & 'Love No Limit'. Mary also has appearances from Heavy D, Biggie Smalls, Sean Combs, Grand Puba, Craig Mack, & her alter-ego Blige J. Blige. They replaced Intro Talk & Slow Down with You Don't Have to Worry & Slow Down, which is kinda weird seeing as Mary/Andre is kinda useless & you could just have 13 tracks instead of 12. Nonetheless, my favorite is Changes I've Been Going Through which has a better beat than the original & the pain in Mary's voice is so tender. Hardcore fans this is for you. New fans, I'd recommend that you get this album, the original CD, & My Life seeing as the 1991-1996 period was her best experience.
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