Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Unerstan Me Mahn?

Once coined the voice of Jamaica, Ini Kamoze was one of the last of the Island Records’ reggae successes.

Lyrical, playful, sassy, spiritual and smart, this kind of reggae is something you just don’t get anymore, which is a real shame; as evident here, this is essential listening: beautifully performed, wonderfully mixed and absolutely life affirming; which ain’t a bad thing to tune into every now and again.

Kamoze’s voice is something else. Immediately distinctive; it soars, bird-like; possessing a spiritual quality as well as being provocative and even a little bit cheeky.

Often, and this is my failing not his, I have absolutely no idea what he’s singing about; but his voice, the noises, the sound he makes, is infectious, his exuberance is viral, and I’m soon readily singing along; my vocal reduced to mere onomatopoeic vowel accompaniment.

Bit like singing along with Nirvana.

The music and production on 1983’s album Statement was created by the very capable hands and ears of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare; and their great understanding of and excellence in this genre really shines on this album.

No other reggae outfit could have been more apt in supporting Kamoze’s brilliant vocal delivery than Sly and Robbie: the true masters of the reggae rhythm section; and they showcase Kamoze’s voice in a way that it truly deserves; making this one of Island’s true masterpiece albums; and a real classic of Jamaican reggae.

The album as a whole is flawless, but the standout tracks for me are 'Live a Little Love', 'England Be Nice' and 'Taxi For Me'.
'Taxi For Me' is one of those tracks that some reggae artists do so well; essentially an autobiographical song about the recording of the song they are singing.
Toasters and MCs used to do this a lot, Lee Perry and U-Roy come to mind, but Kamoze’s lyrics are really smart and satirical, almost self-deprecating:

Call a taxi for me
Get it on the double it’s emergency
Break red light and speed limit, man
I’ve got a session at the Island, boy

The bonus tracks here come from a four track white label test pressing for Kamoze’s first mini LP, released a year before Statement.
The songs, again with Sly and Robbie, are more pared down in construction than those on Statement; and being lengthier they have the space to include more dub, really benefiting and emphasising Kamoze’s vocal prowess; his voice definitely sounding at its best when accompanied by nothing more than bass and drum.

O yeah, and a reverb unit – but that goes without saying…

Ini Kamoze - Statement (1984)

Settle With Me
Babylon Babylon
I Want It Atal
Jump For Jah
Call the Police
Taxi For Me
England Be Nice
Live a Little Love

Bonus Tracks:
Selected from Mini LP Ini Kamoze (1983)

World a Music
Wings With Me
Hai Mi Idri

Both are quality vinyl rips @320kbs.
Gain all here


devotionalhooligan said...

alreet roy
cheers for the sweet comment.i nick 99% of the words though,i'm just well into sharing music- totally cool.
we could be twins separated at birth mate...well spooky. you've got loads of stuff i can't wait to hear.
nice one mate...far out blog. i hope you're well.x

roy rocket said...

Good to make contact - we could run each other's fan clubs!
Here's to a long future of making each other go: hot diggity damn!
Regards, roy

kendo said...

This is a great lp I had it on tape way way back I always looked out for a copy at car boots etc finaly found it on cd a few years back it is one of my favs

roy rocket said...

Me too.
Do grab the bonus tracks.
Regards, roy