Cannon Productions/Juke Boxx Productions
February 4, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Tarrus Riley, since a few years one of the reigning kings of roots reggae music, emerged at the beginning of the new millennium. The son of reggae vet Jimmy Riley - a former member of the Uniques and the Techniques before he embarked on a career as a solo artist - is now known for his sweet, nuanced tenor vocal style, although his first connection with the Jamaican music scene was as a deejay (under the name Taurus). In 2004 his Dean Fraser produced debut album called "Challenges" was released on the small Ya Man Music label.
However, it wasn't until the release of his breakthrough hit "She's Royal" that he started the gain real recognition and appreciation from fans worldwide. The hit song as well as other notable roots tunes was featured on his sophomore album "Parables", which came out in 2006. More hit singles followed including "Start Anew", "Love's Contagious" and the collaboration with Konshens entitled "Good Girl Gone Bad", before VP Records released his third studio album "Contagious" in 2009. Three years later Tarrus Riley exhibited his unbridled talent and versatility on the acoustic album "Mecoustic", released by Tad's Records and the French Soulbeats label.
And now, at the beginning of the year 2014, there's Tarrus Riley's fifth album "Love Situation", an album that is stamped with class all over and without any doubt is the artist's best album to date. For this project Tarrus Riley worked with heavyweights in the music business like Dean Fraser of Cannon Productions, Shane C. Brown Juke Boxx Productions, Mitchum "Khan" Chin, Jordan McClure, Romel Marshall and Grammy Award-winning engineer, Michael Fuller. And it pays as together they have created a true masterpiece.
On his fifth album, Tarrus Riley aka "Singy Singy" takes the listener back to the 1960s, to be more precise, to the period between the autumn of 1966 and the summer of 1968, when rocksteady was the music of choice in the Jamaican dance halls. In fact it was the most important episode in Jamaican musical history, exerting an influence on almost every subsequent development. The shift of rhythmic focus onto the bass and drums has remained a feature of all later stages of Jamaican music. With this new album Tarrus Riley pays tribute to the rocksteady era, not by voicing the original rocksteady riddims like UK singer Bitty McLean did on his acclaimed albums "Pecking Presents... On Bond Street With The Supersonics" (Peckings, 2004) and "Made In Jamaica" (Peckings, 2007), but by voicing expertly played fresh original riddims as well as do-overs of classic backdrops.
Things get started with the wonderful "Intro - Love Situation", which instantly makes clear that you're not listening to a superfluous intro. With Tarrus Riley's distinctive lead vocals and beautiful harmonies (accompanied by guitar and finger snapping) it creates a mood and vibe reminiscent of the vocal groups that played a prominent role during the rocksteady era. Clocking in at 2:38 it's actually more than an intro, it's a full song. The beautiful lovers tune "123 I Love You" matches classic rocksteady gems from three-part harmony groups such as The Melodians, The Paragons and The Techniques. "Burning Desire", rocksteady with a more modern feel, is a solid mesmerizing lovers tune. "Cry Mo More", delivered across a great new version of The Melodians' "I'll Get Along Without You" with Dean Fraser playing a wonderful sax part at the end of the song, continues to deal with matters of the heart.
Then there's the socially-charged single "Dem A Watch (Wanna See Us Break Up", a real big tune and without doubt the singer's next huge hit. John Holt's "Strange Things" riddim is revisited for the real nice "Cum Get Your Ish", while another riddim from a classic John Holt tune, "My Heart Is Gone", is resuscitated for the above par "Thank You", which incorporates some subtle dub fx. It's followed by the outstanding "Version Of Love (My Story)", a song of sheer beauty. A few collaboration efforts are included here as well with of course Daddy U Roy, the Originator, fitting very well in this project as he was the one who started the deejay craze when he started recording on the backing tracks of classic Treasure Isle's rocksteady hits. Also worth hearing is "Five Days", featuring guest appearances from Big Youth and Mr. Cheeks. And also "Special Occasion" with a contribution from the gravel-voiced Whippa Demus makes a good impression. Last but not least this set also includes two worthwhile remixes of the former hits "One Drop" and "To The Limit".
Tarrus Riley's new album fully lives up to expectations and thus deserves to be part of any reggae fan's collection.