Various Artists - Roots Uprising
Release date14th Dec 2009
Reggae Roast has been putting on nights in London since late 2007, wooing an impressive roster of celebrity guests including Lee Perry, Sly & Robbie, Collie Buddz, Suggs from Madness and DJ Derek. As this list should indicate, the collective "don't partial" when it comes to reggae purism (selectors Moodie, Excel and Louis Slipperz come from a hip-hop background) and happily connect the dots linking roots, dub, dancehall, dubstep and electronica - suggesting itís all bass-heavy electronic music at the end of the day.
This, their first compilation follows suit. Cued up together mixtape fashion, each pick challenges you to hear the join between the various sub-genres and influences within the realm of reggae-based sound. Basically, if you liked Mungoís HiFiís eclectic, futurist reggae stylings, as exhibited on their Sound System Champions album, thereís lots to love here.
Birminghamís Overproof Sound Systemís contribute their 2002 side Watch What You Put Inna Ė which bastardises the Sensationsí Every Day Is Just A Holiday and Pablo Gad's Hard Times, warning us to add only organic matter to paper.
Danish producers One People Production pair with mc Brother Culture for a mechanistic floorfiller called Digital Rock which sounds very like Mungos Hifi Ė who in turn lend their track Under Arrest (featuring Reggae Roast chanter MC Ishu) from 2007's aforementioned Sound System Champions disc.
Adrian Sherwood (in resurgence after reviving his On U Sound Label) showcases his partnership with Ruff Cuttís Bubblers, 2 Bad Card, sampling the toaster U Brown (predictably enough from a rhythm used by Sherwood's old friend Bim Sherman, Human Rights, the deejay cut to Golden Locks). Perhaps the toughest tune of all is Serious by London's Hempolics and Dandelion, a modern rocksteady classic based on an old Clancy Eccles production (Stay Loose by Hemsley Morris) that, along with Ghetto Priest's This Time, proves there is room for singers and melody amid the rapid-fire lyrics and bludgeoning beats. Meanwhile, Ramon Judah, Reggae Roast's other resident mic-taker, has two offerings - the dubstep-flavoured Survival and the UK Jazz roots call-out Sound Boy Come Away.
It all adds up to a nice collection that should appeal both to people who feel passionate about roots reggae and those who care more for dub's influence in equal measure.
Reviewed by Angus Taylor