About 10-15 years or so one of the hottest Reggae labels around where French “Maka Sounds” with their multiple sub-labels. They did amazing re-releases of rare and oop albums, released new albums and had the series “Inna de yard” with “unplugged” albums from some of the best in the game. Then all of a sudden they went bankrupt and (in my opinion) left a huge vacuum behind them. Consider this a kinda sorta return, and ohhh what a return it is. They have gathered some amazing artists in “Earl Chinna Smith’s” yard for their return. Both newer acts and classic artists from the heyday of the 70ies
There’s no reason to not start with a bang, first song is “Love is the key” by one of my all-time favorite groups, the (almost) criminally neglected “The Viceroys” and they sounds as amazing as they always did. It’s not a new song as it could be found on their first album “We must unite” but hearing it with only a piano and nyabinghi drums ad a new dimension to it. Certainly a strong start to the album. Ken Boothe has always had one of the most unique voices in Reggae and he put it to good use in the speeded up revision of his old classic “Let the water run dry” he is getting way up there age wise but sounds and looks incredibly fresh, id love to see a new solo album from him.
Skiping a song we get to Kush McAnuf who while being no teen represents the younger spectrum of artists on here with his amazing “Black to I roots” telling us of his roots in Africa and the hurdles of slavery. I absolutely love the trombone on display in this track and the powerfull lyrics. One of the highlights of the albums is Cedric Myton’s haunting vocals on “Youthman”, im not always the biggest fan of falsetto but this tune manages to have enough emotional impact for 10 songs at least. I don’t believe in writing reviews that is as long as encyclopedias but just about every song on here is worthy to be mentioned.
Reading the word “unplugged” might make some fear that this is an album full of “cumbaya around the campfire with an acoustic guitar” kinda songs, believe me, no one would hate that more than me. Make no mistake though, these are fully fleshed out songs with multiple instruments who just happen to be “unplugged”. One of this albums most important strengths is how it manages to bring together new and old artists, something which is done much to seldom in Reggae. We need the veterans to pass the torch to the new cats on the scene and teach them the ropes so that they can continue the old traditions, all while adding a fresh vibe to things.Not only is this easily the best and most important album of the year, im hard pressed to find anything that comes near it the last few years. If you are only buying one album this year, make it this one.