The lastest installment of Highlanda’s Reggae Vault Classics podcast starts off with singer/deejay Shinehead singing a cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean over an instumental that has become known most commonly as the Billie Jean riddim. Sanchez’s solid lover’s rock hit from the 1990s, My Sweet Lady, follows on the riddim with as a nice of a mix as will hear. At this point in the mix, if you don’t feel the warm embrace of the rub a dub bassline, you may want to upgrade the speaker system you are listening on. Billie Jean rolls on with tunes by Yami Bolo, Garnett Silk, Sizzla, and Wayne Wonder before the Nitty Kutchie, Bounty Killer and Terror Fabulous provide a rudeboy finale.
The next tune is Train to Zion, performed by Linval Thompson on the Death in the Arena riddim and this is where I would say Highlanda begins to expose rare gems. Following that gem is Tenor Saw/Nitty Gritty sound a like, King Kong with Trouble Again, one of his biggest tunes. The more commercially known mid-90s version of this riddim, known as Champion of the Arena is next featuring just the Bounty Killer, Long or Tall, and then Garnett Silk’s Splashing Dashing.
Garnett’s silky smooth voice on Retreat Wicked Man is next and takes us further into the Vault as the following transition welcomes the voices of reggae’s Crown prince, Dennis Emmanual Brown alongside Junior Reid singing lyrics that are prominent even in today’s dancehall, “No Dance Nah Keep Again, a just modelling…”
The next mix which brings in a remix of Night Nurse featuring U-Roy, Dennis Brown, and Gregory Issacs in combination, is the only part of this episode that sounds a bit rushed – I was really enjoying the D. Brown/Junior Reid. This however more uptempo version of Gregory’s Night Nurse may not be familiar to many listeners so the tune has some exclusivity value to it. Not Because I Smile which is sung over an extremely vibesy version of the Rockfort Rock riddim makes it two Gregory Issacs’s in a row. The transitions that follow include a Wayne Wonder and a Bounty Killer on the same riddim – Well Done!
One thing to note here is that not only are you hearing selections you may not have heard in years, but these classics are being played in the traditional Brooklyn inspired style of Highlanda’s selector Kahlil Wonda. Big ups go to King Addies and Earthruler among others for the inspiration. Reggae Vault Classics episode 4 ends off with three songs on the Shank I Sheck riddim, also from the 1990s, and as Sanchez fades out my only complaint is that the mix was too short.
Reggae Vault Classics (Tuesday, December 16, 2008)
1 Billie Jean – Shinehead
2 My Sweet Thing – Sanchez
3 Hot Stepping – Yami Bolo
4 Bless Me – Garnett Silk
5 Big and Bold – Sizzla
6 Only You – Wayne Wonder
7 Down In The Ghetto – Bounty Killer/Nitty Kutchie
8 Ole Dog – Terror Fabulous
9 Train To Zion – Linval Thompson
10 Trouble Again – King Kong
11 Long or Tall – Bounty Killer
12 Splashing Dashing – Garnett Silk
13 Retreat Wicked Man – Garnett Silk
14 Dance Nah Keep Again – Dennis Brown/Junior Reid
15 Night Nurse – U-Roy/Gregory Issacs/Dennis Brown
16 Not Because I Smile – Gregory Issacs
17 Childs Play – Wayne Wonder
18 Disrespect – Bounty Killer
19 Jah Power – Tristan Palmer/Beenie Man
20 World Too Haunted – Bounty Killer/Junior Reid
21 Down In The Ghetto – Bounty Killer
22 Brown Eye Girl – Sanchez