Friday, February 23, 2007

Under the Greenwood Decree

I can cope with more than one musical genre at once. I can, I can, I can. However, in the past week or so, my listening has moved away from the intense and earnest lo-fi acoustic scene that has dominated my varied sound systems since the turn of the year; my preference at the moment is reggae. A couple of albums I have downloaded recently have been spun a good deal.

Ethiopian Kings 1975-80 by Rod Taylor (a name I would expect a darts player or, perhaps, a plasterer to own) is a classic slice or two of roots reggae with airy vocals and a strong lyrical content underpinned by melodic and uplifting riddims. The opening track, King David, Solomon, Moses is a superbly produced, swaggering and soaring number and sets the tone perfectly for thirteen more lilting gems.

Trojan Records is 40 years old and that most wonderful of reggae labels is celebrating in style. The company has asked none other than Radiohead’s guitar genius Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Greenwood to plough through the entire back catalogue and select a compilation album to highlight the many, many nuggets that glint throughout the history of Trojan. Nice work if you can get it, eh? The album, Jonny Greenwood is the Controller, is an absolute joy. It is evident that this was (please excuse the UB40 connotations at this juncture) a labour of love for the erudite Greenwood and I thank him for keeping it simple and not going too underground in his selections. His choices range from the deep dub of Lee Perry and Jonny Clarke to the honeyed vocalisations of Marcia Aitkins (over the riddim of Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking methinks) and Marcia Griffiths to the soothing Lovers’ Rock of the esteemed Gregory Isaacs. There is not a duff track or moment on the whole enterprise and I recommend it with glee.


Anonymous said...

Its the other way around, actually. From Wikipedia:

The young singers Althea Forrest (17), and Donna Reid (18), made a big surprise with their one-off hit, "Uptown Top Ranking". It was produced by Joe Gibbs based on the riddim of the Alton Ellis' song "I'm Still In Love" of 1967, which was already popularised by Marcia Aitken's cover.

Cole said...

I am delighted to learn this and stand humbly corrected.