The Top 30 Albums of August 2009

The TOP 30 ALBUMS of AUGUST 2009

1. Various ArtistsPecking Old School Young Blood Volume 2 [Pecking 2009]
2. Courtney JohnMade In Jamaica [Jamaica Records/FiWi Music 2009]
3. Yim YamesTribute To [Rough Trade 2009]
4. Tarrus RileyContagious [VP Records 2009]
5. George Strait Twang [MCA Nashville 2009]
6. Wayne HancockViper of Melody [Bloodshot 2009]
7. Various ArtistsRocksteady: The Roots of Reggae [Moll Selekta Germany 2009]
8. Groundation Here I Am [Young Tree Records 2009]
9. Various Artists Trojan Reggae Chartbusters Volume 1-5 [Trojan 2009]
10. Various ArtistsBeginners Guide to Ska [Nascente 2009]
11. Rebelution Bright Side of Life [Controlled Substance Sound Labs 2009]
12. The ImpressionsComplete A- and B-Sides: 1961-1968 [UMC 2009]
13. Tanya Stephens Tanya: Collection of Hits [VP Records 2009]
14. Various Artists Dubwise/Indiscretions: Greensleeves One Drop Rhythms 2 [Greensleeves 2009]
15. Lynn Taitt & the JetsRock Steady Greatest Hits [Federal 2009]
16. Various ArtistsFinest Delivery, Volume 2 [Greensleeves 2009]
17. KRSOne & BuckshotSurvival Skills [Duck Down Records 2009]
18. Amanda Blank I Love You [Downtown Records 2009]
19. TOKOur World [VP Records 2009]
20. 10 Ft Ganja PlantBush Rock [Roit 2009]
21. The Beasties Boys featuring NasToo Many Rappers (12 Inch) [Parlophine 2009]
22. Dead Prez & the Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern Pulse of the People [Boss Up/Invasion Music 2009]
23. Sean Paul Imperial Blaze [VP/Atlantic Records 2009]
24. Fort Knox FiveRadio Free DC Remixed [July 2009]
25. Blue Scholars – Oof! (EP) [Duck Down Records 2009]
26. Sly & the RevolutionariesChannel One: Maxfield Avenue Breakdown Dubs & Instrumentals 1974-1979 [Pressure Sounds 2009]
27. Charlie RobisonBeautiful Day [Dualtone 2009]
28. Maxwell Blacksummer’s Night [Sony 2009]
29. General Steele of Smif N Wessun – Presents… Welcome to Bucktown

Courntey John’s Lucky Man” is the dynamite track for August 2009. “Lucky Man” sounds like vintage lover’s rock reggae. Courtney John’s falsetto voice is smooth, sweet, and beautiful. “From this love there’s no holiday” Courtney John sings “we won’t take a break…no.” All the “special ladies” will dig these new Courtney John tunes. Take for instance the lovely cover of Rose Royce’sI Want To Get Next To You.”

In an indie rock meets classic rock vein, on a new EP release Tribute To George Harrison, Jim James (Yim Yames) of My Morning Jacket covers some of Harrison’s greatest songs, including “My Sweet Lord” and “All Things Must Pass.”

Some heavy hitters in the music industry made the charts this month, including Texan country music artist George Strait and Jamaican superstar Tarrus Riley. Both superstars pick enduring songs that capture the spirit of the land and its people. George Strait’s Twang as the title indicates swings with twangy vocals, fiddles, and steel guitars, making a classic Texas country sound. From the Jamaican perspective Tarrus Riley brings together a wide variety of reggae forms, such as dancehall, lover’s rock, and roots reggae, putting together a creative album with a sweet Jamaican vibe.

The popular dancehall performer, Sean Paul, dropped his new album Imperial Blaze with dance-friendly new singles like “So Fine” and “Press It Up.” T.O.K.’s new album Our World features the tracks “Guardian Angel” and “Couple Up,” which make for fun danehall music.

The Top 30 Albums of August 2009

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae

I was lucky enough to be in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to see the opening of the film Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae by Swiss director Stascha Bader. What a wonderful film. Just amazing. The film narrated by Stranger Cole captures rocktsteady legends reuniting to cut an album of legendary hits and perform a reunion concert. The impressive lineup included Stranger Cole, U-Roy, Hopeton LewisSly Dunbar, Ernest Ranglin, Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley, Dawn Penn, Ken Boothe, Derrick Morgan, Leroy Sibbles, the Tamlins, Gladstone Anderson, Hux Brown, Bongo Herman, and Scully Simms. Moss “Mossman” Raxlen, the Montreal based reggae producer recorded the reunion session at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica.

The king of the toasters U-Roy performs “Stop that Train.” This version is amazing and steeped in deep meaning. For historical context one must know about the trains in Jamaica and the boom and bust of economic development in newly independent Jamaica (Jamaica won independence from the United Kingdom in 1963). The film does a brilliant job of contextualizing the songs. We know exactly where U-Roy is coming from when he toasts over this classic tune. After the bust the trains stopped, the jobs ran out, the rude boys started to roam the streets, and many Jamaicans sought jobs overseas. When U-Roy toasts over “Stop That Train” he talks about the trains stopping and the people leaving. There is so much soul and history and culture wrapped into one song.

The vocal-group trio the Tamlins are in tip top form and the band leader/guitarist Ernest Ranglin has still got the goods. The drummer Sly Dunbar forms the backbone of the band as he has for decades and the rest of the legendary studio musicians perform magnificently recapturing the fire of the past.

There are some real gems in this film. Hopeton Lewis lays down the rocksteady anthem “Take It Easy” and later sings an excellent rocksteady version of “Rivers of Babylon.” Dawn Penn records her bread and butter track “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” and she talks about the endurance and popularity of the song. Derrick Morgan’s “Tougher Than Tough,” Ken Boothe’s Freedom Street,” Leroy Sibbles’s “Equal Rights,” and Judy Mowatt’s “Silent River Runs Deep” all appear, as well as a great rendition of Desmond Dekker’s classic “007 (Shanty Town)” by Ken Boothe. Marcia Griffiths performs “The Tide Is High” and reminiscences with Judy Mowatt about their time with the producer Coxsone Dodd, the legendary vocal group the I-Threes and with Bob Marley and the Wailers. A guest appearance by Rita Marley follows the widow through Trenchtown where she elaborates on the conditions of the ghetto and recalls her time with Bob in the yard.

I don’t want to give too much away about the film, but it will make you smile, laugh, and tap your toes. For people interested in music and culture, I highly recommend seeing this film. The album will release on the heels of the movie. The Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae album, which releases in August 2009, promises to be a big hit too. Many critics are comparing it to the Buena Vista Social Club, but I think it will be even bigger than Ry Cooder’s classic documentary about Cuban jazzmasters. Rocksteady will be an instant classic!

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae