You know it’s good when you get the thumbs up from members on both the Pama and Trojan Forums. That is some of the highest praise one can get when talking about releasing modern vinyl. These cats know their stuff and they usually stick to the old classic stuff. So in talking with the moderator of the Trojan Form Joe AKA Zapatoo I mentioned the new label I was starting, posted up some info and then sent him a link to sample the new stuff to see what he would say. Well he kindly obliged me with not just a quote about the series as a whole but a breakdown of each release!!! Above and beyond and so thankful for his input and years of sharing his Reggae journey with me and everyone else that live and die by the vinyl. THANKS SO MUCH JOE!
REGGAE ‘69 – LAUREL AITKEN – MD-6901 A
Standard UK Reggae fodder and as the title suggests, it’s from 1969 (originally released on Nu Beat), it’s an uptempo, instrumentally-based tune featuring Laurel’s frequent interjections exhorting “Reggae ‘69” and some engaging, if seemingly out-of-place rhyming couplets – nice memories of the local youth club!
BIG FIGHT IN HELL STADIUM – LAUREL AITKEN – MD-6901 B
Another tune from the Nu Beat label in 1969, similar in delivery to “Reggae ‘69” although a little slower in tempo. This tune is another with an insistent rhythm that gets under your skin, and a danceable beat to move your feet and with Laurel talking us through the “big fight” between 2-Gun Rhygin and Whoppi King. Catchy it is (Whoppi King won this fight, by the way!)
MD-6901-B-Laurel-Aitken-Big-Fight-in-Hell-Stadium by jamrec
APOLLO 12 (SKINHEAD INVASION) - LAUREL AITKEN – MD-6902 A
Much slower in rhythm and dating from the Summer of 1970, this caused a stir, not only because it was the B side of the infamous “Bendwood Dick”, but also it was only ever released as a blank (on Nu Beat) and thus costing around 50% more to buy. Once again, Laurel is talking over the rhythm about a “Skinhead Invasion” and how “it’s not black, it’s not white, it’s what’s right” and so on. While it’s another typical Laurel talkover, it’s no less worthy for that.
MOON ROCK - LAUREL AITKEN – MD-6902 B
Another fairly uptempo rhythm with Laurel rhyming throughout – this one is about weed, but no need to get stuck into the lyrics, just enjoy the rhythm and dance away. Not a tune I remember from back in the day, but hey, you can forgive me for that (originally on ackee, think)
PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE – IRIE BEATS – MD-6903 A
I always have mixed feelings about “modern” Reggae and to be honest I didn’t particularly like this tune on the first time of hearing. However, it’s since grown on my and with its mid-tempo rhythm, choppy beat and a touch of dub in the breaks, I reckon it sounds great when played loud inna dance!
Another modern tune that didn’t really work for me first time out, but listening again, its a catchy workout, with a decent guitar-led rhythm and no vocals (I like my instrumentals). I suspect I’d prefer this to any vocal version.
MISS UNDERSTANDING – OCEAN 11 FEATURING QUEEN P- MD-6904 A
To my ears, this is halfway between original Ska and 2-Tone and with an accessible melody, it will appeal to many. Sounding like it was recorded live, that’s probably how it’s best heard and certainly how I’d prefer to hear it.
MD-6904-A-Ocean-11-Miss-Understanding by jamrec
SPRING IN ROME- OCEAN 11 FEATURING QUEEN P & MALIK MOORE - MD-6904 A
Underpinned by a driving “classic Reggae” rhythm and the horns playing in a Latin style, this is an energetic tune, with the vocals mainly decorating the rhythm and not taking over the whole “show”.
The guitar intro sounds like it’s going to be an early 60’s Brit instrumentals and indeed the guitar playing behind the horns might easily have been inspired by the Shadows or ventures. There’s a bright, happy feel to the tune and with harmonising vocals confined to “Musical remedy. My sweet, sweet melody” this tune is a mid-tempo winner.
EL GIGANTE – THE DELIRIANS – MD-6905 B
With an intro reminiscent of the Skatalites’ “Confucius” this starts off promisingly and turns into a handy instrumental workout which might just have been better had the rhythm been a bit harder. Having said that, it held my attention throughout with some interesting organ and banjo breaks and with an underlying feel of the “None Shall Escape The Judgment” rhythm.
REGGAE FEVER – THE REVIVERS – MD-6906 A
A 30-second spoken intro while a “patient” is diagnosed as having “Reggae Fever”, then an average cover of the Pioneers’ 1969 outing (in turn, only an average update of the Valentines’ 1967“Guns Fever/Blam Blam Fever”), the Revivers might have been better off reviving the latter tune.
MEDICAL OPERATION – THE REVIVERS – MD-6906 B
Another spoken intro which leads into a version the Upsetters’ “Medical Operation” and having a very similar arrangement. Not necessarily a bad thing, as there’s enough aural difference to make this old classic (originally the Meters’ “Sophisticated Cissy” from 1968) and had me tapping my feet as I was typing this.
MR. UPPERCUT – THE IMPALERS – MD-6907 A
Another fight-related tune, this one over a ’69-style rhythm, which while it sounds energetic, would have benefitted from being slightly slower. The DJ’s interjections keep the energy levels high and of course, “Mr. Uppercut” (the challenger) wins and becomes the new heavyweight champion.
MD-6907-A-Impalers-MrUppercut by jamrec
UPPER CUT – THE IMPALERS – MD-6907 B
Could have been Ansil Collins on keyboards, this tune is another sparkler of an instrumental that might have been laid down at North Parade in 1969. Belting along at affair old crack, my preference would have been that this was slightly slower, but a top tune, nonetheless.
BOUT TIME – THE SOULSTEPPERS – MD-6908 A
Laid over a version of the “El Casino Royale” rhythm, this is a mix of that number and Lester Sterling’s sax part of “Last Flight To Reggae City”. The whole tune has a lovely, bright feel to it and benefits from a slightly more restrained tempo.
VICTORY DANCE – THE SOULSTEPPERS – MD-6908 B
Rounding off these releases is another mid-tempo, organ-led instrumental that sounds very like something from my dim and distant past, though if it is, I can’t place it. It’s a smashing tune and one I’d be happy to hear while watching the disc spinning round on the deck. Possibly my favourite of the non-Laurel Aitken (therefore newer) tunes.
MD-6908-B-SoulSteppers-Victory-Dance by jamrec
The Los Angeles launch party takes off on Saturday November 19th and features The Revivers, The Delirians, Queen P, The Tarfons and Shark Skin with other parties taking place the week before and after around the nation. Find out more at the Facebook page here.
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