Roots Attack – Showcase Volume 1
LP and Digital Download
1 Leroy Brown, Brace Yourself
2 I Fi, One Ripe Cocoa
3 RAAS, Dub Oneself
4 Winston McAnuff, Red Light
5 RAAS, Red Dub
6 Nereus Joseph, Gideon Boot
7 RAAS, Gideon Dub
8 Easton Clarke, He Guides Me
9 I Fi, Ting A Ling
10 RAAS, Dub Guides Me
If you are a regular Reggae Roots Review reader you will be familiar with me talking about the strength of European reggae, and how reggae is in very safe hands with the new generation of producers, musicians and label owners. There are crews scattered around the UK and continental Europe producing excellent contemporary roots and dub. In this post I am back focusing on France and two guys called Jeh Jeh and I Fi who run Roots Attack.
Roots Attack was formed in 2010 and centred on Studio Honey, a recording studio owned by Jeremie “Jeh Jeh” Clergue. 2015 saw the Roots Attack record label developed to complement their existing sound system. It was the meeting with Winston McAnuff and Leroy Brown that prompted the work on this first Roots Attack album, ‘Showcase Volume 1’. Easton Clarke and Nereus Joseph came into the fold and a ten track album was born, inspired by Jeh Jeh’s love of the golden age of Jamaican roots. All the tracks are unpublished and original compositions, no covers and recycled riddims.
The album highlights for me are the first three tracks based around the ‘Brace Yourself’ riddim. Track one features accomplished bassist, guitarist, songwriter and producer Leroy Brown. Leroy is a veteran of Jamaican reggae and is best known as a founding member of The Hippy Boys, the group he formed with Carlton and Aston Barrett. ‘Brace Yourself’ stands out as it has great lyrics, nice lines about protecting yourself in these uncertain and unpredictable times. I love the line ‘Old folks used to say, we were the generation of firebirds’. Leroy’s melancholic vocals and lyrics make you think about where society is heading and that the picture does not look good.
The second track uses the same riddim and features young French singer Sylvain “I Fi” lsserlis. You can see that he is influenced by the likes of U-Roy and Big Youth, his delivery and style captures the toasting style of those greats. But he is a talent in his own right and brings a nice contrast to Leroy. Track three is the dub and it stands up well without the vocals, nice tuneful stuff, lot’s of feeling and soul.
The album starts with trepidation about the future, a lack of peace and love that will inevitably bring us all down. But the ten track journey finishes with another highlight ‘He Guides Me’, which gives us something upbeat to take away. Vocals are by Easton Clarke, another Jamaican veteran, who’s first single ‘No Bike License’ was produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry in his famous Black Ark Studio. The traditional Roots and Culture lyrics focus on the role Jah plays as he guides us along this uneven journey. Jeh Jeh and I Fi do wear their influences on their sleeves, but good on them, a homage to what got most of us into reggae in the first place is a good thing. Like the album’s message, if you respect and learn from the past you can create a better future.
I really recommend this album, particularly if you like a slice of old school lyrical Roots and Culture. Roots Attack – Showcase Volume 1 is out on the 29th April and can be picked up on LP and digital download from the Roots Attack Bandcamp site. You can listen to sound samples below.
If you like this article, give it a share on Facebook and spread the word…… Bless