december reggae singles

Reggae Singles Review

Dubamine – Joker Smoker
Tribe 84 – State of Mind
Pama International – Heatwave
Eskimo Attack – Digital Has Nuh Mercy

What is nice about having a reggae blog is the freedom to feature anything I want. There is no pressure to feature what is ‘cool’ or ‘in vogue’, you can just highlight what you feel is good quality music from whichever sub-genre you fancy. This round-up of some new and recent releases features an eclectic mix, including some modern dancehall from Mexico, a couple of excellent covers of Joker Smoker and Heatwave, and a new single from my favourite Polish / Danish / UK label, Tribe 84.

Joker Smoker - reggaerootsreview.comDubamine – Joker Smoker

First up is Joker Smoker which is a re-working of the Tristan Palmer single of the same name. California-based Dubamine aka Lucas Heinel has produced a heavy dubbed up version of the track which features a re-recorded vocal from Mr Palmer himself. Originally released in 1982 on Greensleeves this new version is big heavyweight dub and ticks all the required bass boxes for you dub aficionados. Heavy bass and some nice but not too intrusive electronic effects certainly freshen up the track, as does Tristan’s voice which sounds as fresh and youthful today as it did back in the 80s.

You can have a listen and buy either the digital or 12″ from Dubamine’s Bandcamp site.  For the UK and Europe try this link to Unearthed, here you can buy the vinyl without those killer US postage costs!

Eskimo Attack – Digital Has Nuh Mercy – feat Irie NaNara

Irie Nanara

© Irie NaNara

This track randomly found its way onto my Facebook feed and it’s fair to say it’s not my usual cup of tea. This is a fast, furious and very infectious dancehall track from Mexican producer Eskimo Attack. I love vocalist Irie NaNara, she sounds like a true dancehall star in the making. Her voice has plenty of attitude but is also nuanced and beautifully expressive. Reggae can be a serious business at times and this tune is a nice antidote as it adds some fun and excitement.

I really can’t tell you too much more about them so have a listen and see for yourself. Digital Has Nuh Mercy is available as a free SoundCloud download, check out the alternate mixes, the High Smile Hi-Fi version (read more about High Smile here) is particularly good.

Pama International – Heatwave

Pama International - HeatwaveWhat do you get if you cross a Motown classic with a re-formed group of renowned musicians? Well here it is, Heatwave is the new single soon to be released on Record Kicks featuring dub / rocksteady band Pama International. The track of course needs no introduction, I am sure you are humming it already!

After a seven-year break Pama International are back with this taster from their new album ‘Love & Austerity’ which is due for release next spring (2017). The new line-up is built around the founder/keyboard player Sean Flowerdew together with guitarist Lenny Bignell, and it stars the beautiful lead vocal harmonies of Jewels Vass and Anna Uhuru, drummer extraordinaire Bullit and, from Pama International’s original days, Gary Alesbrook on trumpet.

This is a nice interpretation of the track, it sounds very spontaneous, like a studio jam. I think it is the mark of a good band that you can produce great music which sounds so effortless. They haven’t deviated much from the original, which is a blessing, some covers just crucify the originals. The vocals are great and once you add in the rocksteady groove you have a track that will get you up dancing.

The digital download is available now from the Pama Bandcamp page (what would we do without Bandcamp!) and the 7″ will be out on the 20th January next year.

Tribe 84 – State of Mind

Tribe 84 - Nucleus RootsFinal single in this round-up is the new one from Tribe 84, who are a label that are building a great reputation for modern sound system friendly reggae. You can read a review of one of their recent singles in my archive.

It’s nice to finish this group of reviews with some roots, which is the reggae style closest to my heart. State of Mind sounds like proper old school reggae. Lyrics about Zion and how consciousness is within us is the message. The music, courtesy of Nucleus Roots, is languid in style but still retains that call to action that all good roots has. This is a strong powerful track tempered by the soothing vocals of Don Hartley.

If you love your roots then I am sure you will love this one, nice dubs as well! You can pick up the limited vinyl single from the Tribe 84 site and all good online shops but it looks like it is going fast.

Thanks for reading, with so many releases coming out each month I can only scratch the surface but hopefully this will highlight some new tracks for you. Please share on Facebook and Twitter…… Bless, Paper Lion


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