Sunday, November 26, 2006
"Serious Times" - Various Artists
Jamaica, the declared home of reggae and roots music, has had a rough couple of years. Not only has their culture been co-oped by frat boys here in America but the fact that society its self apparently hasn't got much better since the hay day of reggae in the early 80's doesn't help much either. So even though the average Americans' understanding of reggae and roots music has never been able to progress further then Bob Marley that does not mean that Jamaica has not still been producing amazing tracks.
On XL Records album, "These are Serious Times" the sounds of a vibrant and rich music scene have been captured and documented in a easy to consume package for the first time. The collection starts off strong with the first song "Notorious" by Turbulence with his gruff sing/song voice over top of some of the most sparring but brutal beats that even Rick Ross would be proud of. There isn't a slow spot anywhere on the album really, starting off with "Notorious" and running through the lovely "Push-cart Boy" single by Perfect or the conscious one-drop sound of Gyptian on "Serious Times". "Serious Times" works great as an album in two ways. First its a collection of some of the best singles and anthems that have come out of Jamaica in recent years and the the layout of the album works as well. The first disc is a mix by Federation Sound which effortless blends the tracks in and out of each other while layering over top of the songs sounds and accents meant to give the listener an idea of what a night at a dancehall in Kingston would sound like. The second disc is the same collection of songs that are found on the first cd but in their original formats and with some alternate takes of some songs as well.