Penthouse Records 25 Years ~ The Journey Continues
January 22, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Producer Donovan Germain, born on March 7, 1952 in Kingston, Jamaica, moved to New York in 1970, where he made a living distributing music and eventually owning Keith's Record Store located in Brooklyn. Back in Jamaica he founded his first label Revolutionary Sounds in 1978. He also recorded under other imprints such as Germain and Reggae. Among his productions were hits like Sugar Minott's "Good Thing Going" and "Mr Boss Man" by Cultural Roots. In the mid 80s he scored really big with Audrey Hall's "One Dance Won't Do" (plus a dozen more versions!) and Freddie McGregor's hit tune "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely". He opened his own Penthouse studio on 56 Slipe Pen Road, Kingston, in 1987. Further impressive chart success came with the remake of a classic Studio One tune by John Holt, "A Love I Can Feel". The riddim provided notable hits such as "Tempted To Touch" by Beres Hammond. This compilation features the version he did in combination with Cutty Ranks, Love Mi Haffi Get. Tony Rebel's "Fresh Vegetable" was another scorcher pon the riddim.
Donovan Germain soon became very successful and established his name and labels with an impressive number of hit singles featuring veteran artists like Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths and Nana McLean as well as many young artists like Wayne Wonder, Buju Banton, Tony Rebel, Garnet Silk, Cutty Ranks and Mad Cobra. Not least because of the recognizable sophisticated sound he and his talented team of engineers and musical producers like Dave and Tony Kelly, Andre Tyrell and Lenky managed to create, Donovan Germain was Jamaica's leading record producer in the late 1980s and throughout a large part of the 1990s. The only criticism one might have towards Penthouse productions is the lack of first-rate and completely original riddims, but who cares anyway when most of the riddims, even if they are revived classics, are so expertly played and thus are simply great to hear.
Artists like Jahmali, Ras Shiloh and Assassin have benefit from Germain's professionalism to reach an international fame, not to forget Romain Virgo who currently is constantly at the forefront of reggae music. He's a producer who's always focused on improving the quality of the music being played in the dance halls. His work with young Dalton Harris, Exco Levi and Torch, to name but a few, proves he's still one of the main producers on the Island.
This double disc album spans the period 1988 to 2013, opening in great style with Sanchez and One In A Million. Chaka Demus delivers Chaka On The Move, the song that gave Donovan Germain his first Jamaican hit of note in 1988. Cutty Ranks'Pon Mi Nozzle rides the same riddim in full effect. Germain's lick of the 'Gunman' riddim from Junjo Lawes gave Frankie Paul the hit "Friends", but this compilation includes the version by Michigan & Smiley who rework the pop tune Tom's Dinner in JA style. Buju and Beres saw their tune Who Say climbing the charts in 1992. That same year Germain rebuild the 'General' riddim and voiced it with numerous artists. Here you can listen to the Terror Fabulous version Order. In 1995 he released the album 'Dancehall Hits Vol. 7', a fabulous collection of cuts on the 'Swing Easy' riddim. Buccaneer's tune Good Director is included here.
Disc 2 opens with El Shaddai, the best tune Jahmali ever recorded. What a BOOM tune! Too bad they have left out a tune on the 'Right Time' riddim. He did some excellent licks on that riddim, all featured on the 1998 'one riddim' album 'Comforter'. An early dancehall effort by Sean Paul - Nah Get No Bligh - is highly appreciated, just like Beres Hammond's flawless effort My Pride And Joy across the 'Love Me Always' riddim out of 2004, also used by Buju Banton for his tune Go If You Want. In 2008 Romain Virgo's breakthrough tune Mi Caan Sleep was the answer version to Beres Hammond's I Feel Good. The following year Donovan Germain came up with a brilliant riddim called 'Automatic', voiced in an awesome style by Queen Ifrica as Lioness On The Rise. Exco Levi sings the self love anthem Bleaching Shop which has been topping charts globally. In 2010 dancehall star Busy Signal gave us the sweet song Comfort Zone. Disc 2 ends with a selection of new and promising Penthouse artists such as Sherieta, Shuga, Dalton Harris and D Major.
Hosted by Mr. Germain himself, the bonus DVD is an 1 hour and 45 minute journey through the history of the studio and label and features many of the key players in Jamaican music. Interviews include original Penthouse crew members Tony Rebel, Richie Stephens, Wayne Wonder, Marcia Griffiths and Beres Hammond.
Historical and Musical food for thought & dance.