Various - Jah Shaka Presents The Positive Message
TitleJah Shaka Presents The Positive Message
Release dateAugust 2009
The celebrity endorsed compilation is often just an excuse for a record company to put out their priority reissues under the banner of a big selector's name. Trojan's DJ Derek set made for a fairly happy marriage - as the tunes the venerable Bristolian uses to get the bright young things of Islington or Bestival dancing are exactly what the label wants to push. Don Letts’ Greensleeves disc boasted some nice cuts but many of them had already appeared on various ’Sleeves anthologies in the months before. Now Greensleeves have enlisted the mighty Jah Shaka for a 16 track CD (and 6x 7-inch boxset) collection that, by rights, ought to go a little deeper than those of Derek, Letts and Andy Smith.
So how does it measure up? Well, in terms of recycling the current reissue roster (and the avoidance thereof) - not too badly. We hear Ras Michael’s None A Jah Jah Children, which turned up on the Letts comp (it is, however, one of those tunes that's rarely unwelcome when played out). Black Uhuru's I Love King Selassie was re-released just a week ago on the Black Sounds Of Freedom Deluxe double edition although, fittingly, Shaka opts for the less familiar more stripped down mix from Love Crisis over the horns-drenched Black Sounds one. Most of the other choices will be known to the vinyl collector yet give the vibe of a genuine selection. Spanning the late seventies to early eighties, and exclusively minor key, they tend to feature militant drum-patterns and the synths that were increasingly replacing organs at the time. Cuts like Fred Locks’ heavy stalker Love And Only Love, Hugh Mundell’s Can't Pop No Style (with its melody line reminiscent of Ini Kamoze's World A Music) and Johnny Clarke’s Bad Days Are Going are sufficiently off the beaten “rhythm-track” to suggest label interference was at a minimum.
The sole gripe is that the CD promo of the 7-inches sent out by Greensleeves arranged the tracks – tantalisingly - with their dubs, in “showcase” style. This has been abandoned for the vocal-only official release CD. On the plus side, you get a lot more vocals (16 instead of 6) but some of the sense of Shaka selecting in your room has been lost. Then again, if you’re that much of a stickler for tradition you can always pick up the 7s box for the dubs. In short, Shaka shows the other celebrity compilations how it’s done.
Reviewed by Angus Taylor