Midnight Raver’s Top 15 Reggae Album Picks 2015
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‘Easy Skanking in Boston ’78’ by Bob Marley & the Wailers – The year’s best reggae album to date, ‘Easy Skanking’ features Bob Marley and the Wailers’ live performance at Boston’s Music Hall on June 8, 1978. The live recording captures the high energy of the show as Marley treats the sell-out crowd to an unforgettable evening. Notable tracks include “Slave Driver” and “Rebel Music.”
Dread Prophecy – The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You. The long-awaited Yabby You compilation from Shanachie hit the streets on February 16, 2015. With Dread Prophecy Shanachie’s Randall Grass has constructed the most significant and definitive collection of music ever assembled for one of the unheralded heroes of the “golden age of reggae.”
Million Stylez – ‘Revelation Time’ is all about crafty wordsmithing and serious beatmaking. Stylez has been gaining in popularity since his strong showing at 2005’s Irie FM/Red Stripe Big Break talent competition. Revelation Time is proof once again that “reggae gone foreign.” For all the dismissive op-eds, gasfaces, and vexed bloggers, the fact still remains that reggae is being significantly influenced and elevated by talented artists from all over the world. Revelation Time is as solid as any reggae album released in 2015. This is a good thing. In fact, it is a great thing and something every reggae fan should celebrate.
Kings and Queens in Dub by John Brown’s Body. The follow-up and dub companion to the band’s critically-acclaimed 2013 effort titled Kings and Queens is mixed by some of the best dubmixologists in the world including Ticklah, Dubmatix, Dubfader (of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant), the legendary Dennis Bovell, Yesking, Goldwasser, Lord Echo (of The Black Seeds), and more.
‘Ancient Future’ by Protoje. ‘Ancient Future’ is Protoje’s best album yet, a head-knocking set that bridges the gap between reggae and hip-hop in a way that few others have before him. It is an exceptional collection of brilliantly-produced tracks informed by elements of roots, dancehall, and hip-hop that make for an undeniably fascinating album with wide commercial appeal.
‘Ride Tru’ by Midnite. ‘Ride Tru’ is yet another solid album from the most influential roots reggae outfit to ever emerge from the U.S. A worthy follow-up to 2014’s ‘Beauty for Ashes’ (Itunes reggae album of the year), ‘Ride Tru’ is another collaboration between St. Croix’s Midnite and producers Zion I Kings. Together with Zion I Kings, Midnite has been instrumental in bring about the most inventive and transformational period for roots reggae in more than thirty years. Notable tracks include “Calm the Day” and “Arise Again.”
The Far East LP by Suns of Dub – The long-awaited debut album from young Pablo and RasJammy delivers from start to finish with strong arrangements, heavy dubs, and a killer mix.
Noel Ellis Meets Lone Ark: Zion is the first of Iroko Records’ Showcase series featuring reggae roots singer and son of reggae legend Alton Ellis on tracks produced by the multi-talented Roberto Sanchez and Hervé Brizec of Lone Ark Productions out of Santander, Spain. It is the latest collaborative effort for Sanchez whose work with the likes of Milton “King Midas” Henry, Earl Sixteen, I-Kong, and Roy Ellis has made him one of the most respected reggae producers in the world. His collaboration here with Ellis builds upon the strength of his previous projects, making Noel Ellis Meets Lone Ark: Zion one of his most impressive albums yet.
‘Strictly Roots’ by Morgan Heritage. ‘Strictly Roots’ is a powerful album that just may be Morgan’s best effort to date. That is a bold statement when one considers the fact that they have been recording and touring for more than two decades. There aren’t many other reggae acts that possess both the vocal talent or the wide commercial appeal of Morgan’s Heritage. This album is just too enjoyable on so many levels it almost demands to be included in any Top Ten list for 2015. Notable tracks include “Rise and Fall” and “Why Dem Come Around.”
‘Rising Sun’ by Niyorah. Another album by an artist hailing from the US Virgin Islands, ‘Rising Sun’ by Niyorah is one of the most enjoyable listens to drop so far this year. Notable tracks include “Rising Sun” and “Here to Serve.”
‘Kingston City’ by New Kingston. Yet another solid roots reggae release from Easy Star, ‘Kingston City’ by New York’s New Kingston is more proof that the US reggae scene is still on the come up with no end in sight. Notable tracks include “Mystery Babylon” and “Conquer Dem.”
With ‘Nyacoustic Chants,’ Zion High Productions continues to evolve the modern sound of reggae. The album features the best artists of yesterday and today unplugged over brilliantly-produced percussion riddims. Zion High seeks neither fortune nor fame with their productions. They are wholly committed to revolutionizing the sound of reggae roots and expanding its influence at any cost.
Jah Cure‘s long-anticipated new album ‘The Cure’ is an exceptional piece of work from one of Jamaica’s most beloved contemporary reggae artists. The thirteen song set features recent hits like his #1 reggae chart-topping John Legend cover “All of Me,” “Rasta,” “That Girl” and “Life We Live” as well as brand new singles including “No Friend of Mine,” “Made In California,” and “I Surrender.”
Natural High Music’s Urban Roots collection saves reggae fans from an otherwise dismal summer of lackluster, humdrum “riddim” albums. Urban Roots, which features some of Jamaica’s most talented yet under-served reggae artists over imaginative and unorthodox productions, is a welcome oasis on the long, hot trod through the midst of a scorching summer.
With the release of his third studio album ‘Order of Distinction,’ New York spit-kicker Jahdan Blakkamoore calls upon the inimitable skills of Zion I Kings, one of the most influential production collectives to emerge in reggae over the past decade.