Norfolk is a beautiful county in the East of England, best known for rolling fields, big skies and slow moving tractors. But when the sun goes down on this green and pleasant land, something of the bass variety stirs. Like many cities in England, Norwich has a strong underground reggae pedigree. Sound systems like Rebel Lion, Full Tone and Roots Renegade strut their stuff regularly and of course you can’t mention Norwich and reggae without the great Finbarr Carter. Finbarr should really get a knighthood for his services to sound system culture.
Dutty Hands & Cranky General ft Joseph Lalibela – Jah Fingers / Step It Up - Irie Vibes Records
This review is going to focus on two smaller record labels, both committed to promoting what is good about the UK reggae scene and both with strong links to Norwich. First up is Norwich resident Nick Thompson aka Dutty Hands, who is part of the York based Irie Vibes Soundsystem. Irie Vibes have been running since 2016 and their second single is available now from their website.
Although not 100% Norfolk, I have included this single as Nick is forging good links with Norwich crews. It’s good to see this reggae cross fertilisation.
Simplicity is the best word to describe this EP. First track ‘Jah Fingers’ has a very simple but catchy rhythm and is complimented by simple but meaningful lyrics. I like the phrase ‘we are leaves and branches from the roots of Jah’. A nice poetic way to describe the one god. It is something that wars have been fought over, but surely everyone is looking for the same thing from their god? Why should one be better than the next? It doesn’t make sense to me and my rational thinking….. The ‘Step it Up’ b-sides have some lovely horn lines, very cool stuff. These are faster tracks, they gallop along with a pacey steppas beat, counting down the fall of Babylon. Have a listen below for yourself, this is a nice release, rhythm, vocals, horns, melody all contribute to make this a necessary 12″.
Roots Renegade Records - Artibella
Information about the new Roots Renegade Records release has just started to surface on Facebook. (You can find more info about the Norwich based system in my review of their last single.) It is not due out until April but its frighteningly infectious sound is making a stir. The track is called ‘Artibella’; some of you may recognise the distinctive name from the old Ken Boothe track. This re-vamped version of the ska classic has been given an adrenalin injection and will have you bouncing on the dancefloor. Have a listen below, I think you will like it….. Keep an eye on the Roots Renegade website for more details.
What do you think, any comments on these releases or indeed anything you want to talk about is welcome….. and shares, we love shares, it helps spread the word. It does surprise me how fertile Norwich is for reggae, particularly as it is such a traditional white area. But if nothing else it is a welcoming city, even for dodgy Londoners like me! Long may it continue. Bless, Paper Lion