Prison Oval Rock – Roots Garden 7”
Bearer of Bad News – Med Tone Records 7”
Wow… intense is not the word for what I have been going through this last three months. I am heading on a non-music tangent here and may lose a few of you who are not into football, but try and bear with me. After a hard fought series of matches culminating in a win at Wembley in the Championship play off final, Fulham Football Club are back in the Premiership after a four year absence.
Having been a big Fulham fan for over three decades this is a big thing for me. The point of this ramble is that football has been my emotional focus recently, and being a ‘bear with little brain’, I can only pour my heart and soul into one thing at a time. June is here now though, the English domestic football season is over (although we have the World Cup on the horizon woo-hoo) and now is the time to focus on my other interests. Step forward music, reggae and in this instance Robert Dallas!
Today I will look at two new Robert Dallas records, one released on Jon Jones’ Brighton based Roots Garden Records. The second is on the slightly more exotic Israeli based label Med Tone, run by brothers Asaf and Ilan Smilan. Robert is a very in demand vocalist, I think it is fair to say he is finding fame later in life. His excellent debut album ‘Tradition Man’ which you can read more about here was recorded in his late 50s.
From what I have seen, Robert seems a decent guy and good luck to him on now finding more success. I do believe that if you have talent it find appreciation sooner or later!
Prison Oval Rock
This track was originally voiced and cut as an exclusive Roots Garden dubplate a few years ago, after Robert Dallas dropped these lyrics freestyle over the mic at a Roots Garden dance in Brighton. Understandably the crowd went crazy and this track has been so popular at subsequent Roots Garden sessions that they have decided to make it available to everyone on a 7″ single. The lyrics take from Barrington Levy’s original Prison Oval Rock production and in true reggae re-cycling style, it is combined with producer Richie Phoe’s ‘Roll Like Lion’ rhythm. Roll Like Lion originally featured Josie Wales and released on Roots Garden back in 2013. Check out the video below, I think you will see why it went down so well at the Roots Garden dances. It has that sound that works so well with big speakers and big rooms.
Bearer of Bad News
Bearer of Bad News is the first collaboration between Robert and Med Tone Records. This 7” is darker and more introspective than Prison Oval Rock. Robert’s voice takes on a more vulnerable tone, he sounds like a singer crying out for justice. This is a true roots reggae vocal in the style of say Bunny Wailer and is complemented by a very dark minor key riddim, with blazing horn lines by the Med Tone All Stars band. On the flip side you get a heavy dub version mixed by Asaf Smilan in the Med Tone recording studio in Tel Aviv. Again check out the video below.
What I find interesting is that you have two roots style singles here, but each has a very different feel. Reggae can be accused by the uneducated ear of being very samey, but these singles are good examples of reggae’s subtle tonal differences. It is also good to see Robert stretched and conveying different emotional moods. But I guess that is what marks out good singers, being able to take different songs and give them equal power and soul is a skill.
Roots Garden / Med Tone
Both singles are available to buy now from the respective Roots Garden and Med Tone websites. Don’t sit on your hands on these ones, the limited supplies will go. Last word for Robert, when I reviewed Tradition Man I thought yes, decent singer, good album. You can now see an upward trajectory in his career, with each new outing being better than the last. I think the reggae world is expecting big things from you… now where is that second album?
Thanks for reading, any comments would be appreciated whether it’s about these releases, football or life in general. Be sure to share please as social media doesn’t just help my blog, but also helps all involved with these releases.
Until the next time, bless. Paper Lion