Mr Bligh – ‘Dub Star’

CaptureThe last time we dropped in on Mr. Bligh was back in 2011 with the release of his rather encouraging debut record Is This England?. 

His debut was an album of all things indie, punk, reggae and hip-hop, following the release of which, he decided to return to producing. Two years on, having spent a lot of time experimenting with his sound and style, the young Londoner has gone all in on the reggae and dub buzz. Working with a variety of reggae singers such as Ras Tweed & YT, he’s hit on something that works ever so well. It’s just the ticket with the sun finally reemerging following the long cold winter; it’s feelgood and happy, head nodding music. It’s pretty rare new Ska, Reggae or Dub material crosses my path so I’m pretty smitten with this at present.  

Mr. Bligh has a string of releases planned for 2013, both digital & vinyl. You can check out a few choice cuts below.

Trojan Warriors Mixtape (Ska, Reggae, Dancehall & Rocksteady)

Trojan Records marked the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence with the release of Freedom Sounds, a collection of over 100 tracks spread across 5 CDs from influential Jamaican artists etc. that have influenced popular music across the past five decades.

That set me thinking, there’s never been much in the way of Ska, Reggae, Dancehall etc. on the blog. It’s quite strange seen as I’ve been a big fan since my Dad introduced to the genres when I was younger. This stuff, Ska in particular,  just struck a chord with me (no pun intended). It’s hard not to like, it is, for the most part upbeat, bright and fun. It is music with stories to tell, of love, life and struggles, but just as important, you can nod along and dance to it quite happily. It is probably only matched by Hip Hop in that regard. 

I have compiled some of my favourite from the various albums, compilations and box sets I have acquired throughout the years. Some are fairly well known, others less so. I can’t guarantee they all appeared on Trojan (but ‘Trojan Warriors’ has a nice ring to it), see it as an introduction if nothing else.

If you fancy delving a bit further, I suggest checking out BBC 4’s ‘Reggae Britannia‘ or getting your hands some of the many excellent Trojan Records Boxsets. Consequently this happens to be the 1,000 post on the blog, no better way to celebrate eh? Enjoy!

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The Pioneers – ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ (Toddla T Remix)

I can’t say I’m too taken by Toddla T’s new single ‘Alive‘, it’s just a bit, well, mmeh. This is of little consequence thankfully as Toddla T has kicked off the Clarks Originals remix series with a superb rework of The Pioneers ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’.

It is fair to say for the most part classic tracks should be left well alone but this Trojan classic is in safe hands from a producer who’s love affair with Jamaica, it’s culture and music, runs deep. Introducing his own unique style, it is upbeat and bright with a flurry of sharp beats and bass drops, the track is totally re-imagined while paying tribute to the original track in the best way possible.

The Pioneers ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ (Toddla T Remix) is available for FREE download from here.

Little Roy – ‘Battle for Seattle’

Over the years reggae and ska have long been accustomed with unusual cover versions. Even still, it is a surprise to hear of a aging reggae star hitting the studio to reinterpret ten classic Nirvana tracks.

While many may scoff at the very thought of re-doing what are classic tracks, especially as a reggae album; put those reservations aside and it is harder still not to be surprised by how exceptionally well this works. No doubt down to the talent of both Little Roy and producer Prince Fatty.

Battle for Seattle is not just simply a ‘covers album’, rather a re-imagining classics giving the likes of ‘Polly’, ‘Lithium’ and ‘Heartshaped Box’ and decidedly Jamaican lick of paint. Fresh life is breathe into the songs and most importantly adding his own interpretation too, injecting infectious reggae rhythms and melodic charm, while showing the utmost respect to the originals.

It goes to show that music is simply music; genres can be transcended with skill and talent, after all much of popular music’s roots are firmly rooted in older, styles and genres. Most importantly, this is a fitting tribute to the originals. Of course how much you enjoy this depends on whether or not you like reggae, something I for one don’t have to worry about.

Little Roy – Lithium

Little Roy – Dive

Little Roy – Sliver

Oxegen 2011 – Saturday – Cashier No.9, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Miles Kane & Arctic Monkeys

After an impressive but sparse Friday, Saturday had a lot to live up to but spirits were raised as Punchestown basked in glorious sunshine, a rare occurrence in recent years.

Away from the sunshine was Belfast 5-piece Cashier No.9 who were wooing  punters in the Heineken Green Energy tent with their brand of shimmering indie. The set which opened with EP title track ‘Goldstar’ was cheerful and charming and also included ‘Oh Pity’ and latest single ‘Lost at Sea’. A really enjoyable set and there’s little doubt these guys are ones to keep and eye on.

Over on the Main Stage fellow Northerners Two Door Cinema Club drew the biggest crowd of the weekend so far. The Bangor trio’s cheery and energetic indie-pop perfect complementing the mood of the crowd, buoyed by the sun, they lapped up tracks like ‘Something Good Can Work’ and ‘Undercover Martyn’. It was a performance full of energy and confidence as they continue to grow in stature, they seemed perfectly at home with the Main Stage billing. They also announced we can expect an album in early 2012.

London trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have already carved out a niche as fine purveyors of genre-hopping retro sounding music. A sound molded from a mixture of R&B, Swing, Country and Western, Rockabilly, Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll filled the 2FM Hotpress Academy. A wonderfully charming set full of feel good, toe-tapping infectious rhythm.

Next up was Miles Kane, who is probably best known for his role in The Last Shadow Puppets alongside Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys. This boys got skills, confidence, swagger and supreme stage presence. He swaggered through a set of whirlwind of ’60s psych-soul swathed in twangs and spooky feedback and pulse-raising rock’n’roll riffs, including ‘Inhaler’, ‘Rearrange’, ‘My Fantasy’ and ‘Quicksand’ while the live ‘Kingcrawler’ almost makes the neck hairs stand on end. As the set progressed, for the first time all weekend the symbiotic relationship between artist and crowd was exploited to the full as each goes for it, pushing the other further and further. Kane’s blistering show is Saturday’s high point so far but there is still the small matter of a certain band from Sheffield to come.

For me Saturday’s main attraction was always going to be Arctic Monkeys who somehow I had never seen live. Four great albums in and they have solidified into one of the most formidable bands on the planet, surely they couldn’t let me down? They were in no mood to mess around launching into ferocious performances of ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Still Take You Home’ and ‘This House Is A Circus’. As the rolled through their set much like The Strokes the previous night, it is real drilled home how good they really are.

The new material sounded fantastic even if some of the momentum ebbed away somewhat as the rump of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with tracks like ‘Brick By Brick’, ‘Suck It And See’, ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ and to a lesser extent ‘Library Pictures’.  ‘Don’t Sit Down Because I’ve Moved Your Chair’ in particular was glorious with Turner’s voice sounding fantastic. 

The punters played their part too and when ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ got an airing all hell broke loose throughout the crowd. ‘Teddy Picker’, ‘Florescent Adolescent’ and ‘Crying Lightening’ sounded great too before Miles Kane joined them on stage to close a memorable set with ‘505’. The performance was a glorious success if a little distant at times, the next time they announce their own Irish dates I’m there.

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