Necessary Mayhem Records
October 21, 2013
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
This release is a long-time wish of Curtis Lynch Jnr., reworking some classic material from one of his heroes, Gregory Isaacs, that he recorded for his favourite producer Augustus Clarke.
Isaacs had a successful career of several decades recording countless albums and singles for numerous producers. He started singing duets and in groups in the late sixties with few success, before he started his own label African Museum in the seventies with Errol Dunkley. Since then the Cool Ruler scored one hit after another. Besides the successes there were also problems with an imprisonment and drug abuse, something that overshadowed his massive career and was probably the reason he recorded material for anyone that was willing to pay him money for it. He kept on recording and performing until his sad dead in 2010, and will for always be remembered as one of reggae's finest vocalists.
Clarke nicknamed Gussie started out cutting dubplates in the seventies, before he proceeded to producing the likes of deejays U-Roy, I-Roy and Big Youth. Later on he worked with the likes of Dennis Brown, The Mighty Diamonds and Gregory Isaacs. At the end of the eighties he opened his own Music Works Studio where some of dancehall's best known songs were recorded. His modern producing style appealed to many fans and influenced a lot of producers then and in the years to come.
Curtis Lynch is certainly one of those. In recent years he re-licked a lot of classic dancehall riddims, with a very distinctive sound. He mainly used European artists from the UK as well as from the continent, Mr. Williamz, Macka B, Million Stylez, Maikal X, Ziggi to name just a few. Many of these masterpieces were released digital and for the old-fashioned hard-copy fans luckily some were also released on vinyl lp and cd, like the flawless "Digital Acquistics" compilation.
On his biggest project so far he remixed eleven of Gregory Isaacs' most acclaimed songs he recorded for Gussie Clarke. It opens with the single "Jealousy", originally a duet with Dennis Brown from 1989's "No Contest" album. The duet is transformed into a three-the-hard-way version with deejay Macka B. He gives this version an extra dimension with an on-spot delivery on this mix and with his vocals. His style blends in perfectly with the original song and the mix tops it off. Another 1989 anthem is "Report To Me". The AWOL mix is very tight with a lot of overdubs, although the beat can't match the hypnotic brilliance the Gussie production has.
The tempo slows down with "Street Walker". The Cool Rulerís vocals are presented very nice, the bass and organ shuffle seal the deal. "Disrespect", which everybody knows as "Mind Yuh Dis", is a classic to which Curtis Lynch did not only add Shabba Ranks' lyrics ("Don't Bother Dis") from back in the days, but he also added the colonel Josey Wales' response to "Mind Yuh Dis" to make another showcase boomtune.
With the Roots Radics, Gregory recorded maybe his best known song "Night Nurse". In 1993 he recorded a version for Gussie, which is remixed as strip mix on this cd. A heavy bass-line and pausing of the beat creats a certain tension in the crooners song, just after listening to it a few times more I began to rate this version better. In another classic from the "Judge Not" album, the duet "Let off Supm", the mix emphasizes on the bass-line and occasionally synthesizer parts and sound effects are chopped in, a-typically it is titled as classis mix, it sure is a fine one. "Private Beach Party" is another crooning song, given a subtle treatment. Like most of all these remixes the original take is recognizable, but yet full of extra effects, like echoing and organ overdubs.
From his immense catalogue "Innercity Lady" is a next true classic to undergo a transformation. The Upgrade mix at first sounds like the original mix, before the bass changes some, then overdubs pop in, female backing vocals follow and finally the instrumental backing keeps on playing and slowly fades out at the end of the song. One of the highlights of the album, pure creativity from the Necessary Mayhem camp.
A lesser known song is "Temporary Lover", originally a 7" single from 1997, also included on the "Music Works Selections" compilation. The mix balances nicely between Gregory's singing, the backing vocals and a pounding bass-drum. It is a nice display of how beautiful the Cool Ruler's love songs blend in with the new type of mixing. Same counts for "Love Me Or Leave Me", although the riddim sounds more like a Dave Kelly ragga production. Listen to some of the countless Madhouse productions from back in the days and you'll instantly know what I mean.
More from the "Private Beach Party" period is (better) "Plant Some Loving", a beautiful love song remixed with focus on the vocals and horn lines and later on a piano part. After all the bass-driven mixes, this slows down the pace of the album before some more experimental bonus cuts will end the set.
"Jealousy" and "Disrespect" are given another re-lick with the emphasis in the mix respectively on the newly recorded vocal part by Macka B and the Josey Wales part and just later on the Gregory lyrics are mixed in. Curtis Lynch alter ego Da Grynch dubs "Report To Me" as "Report To Dubby" and adds a stunning dub version called "Jealous Dub". The first actually reminds more of the Gussie Clarke riddim than the AWOL mix and the latter is a totally crazy dub, with bass and drum going all over the place, a great way to end this release.
Gregory Isaacs and Gussie Clarke were a great combination. Curtis Lynch Jnr. tried to capture their greatness by presenting a different mix rather than to totally rip up the originals.
It's hard to rate the quality of a remix compared to rating a song. But Gregory Isaacs' "Remixed" deserves full credit for giving these treasures a genuine and contemporary treatment. Ambitious and risky, keeping in mind most Bob Marley remix projects for instance have received bad criticisms, but this project turned out very good and will definitely stand the test of time