New recordings of 'old' artists worthwhile?

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New recordings of 'old' artists worthwhile?

Yes
2
6%
Usually yes
4
12%
Sometimes
18
53%
Usually not
10
29%
No
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 34

New recordings of 'old' artists worthwhile?

Postby BMC » Thu Jan 06, 2005 1:36 pm

After reading about the possible release by B&F of a new Congos album (ie. new recordings) I noticed I agreed with those that were not really enthusiastic about it. It made me think a bit about 'old' artists or 'veterans' and new recordings. For me, 9 out of 10 times it doesn't work. Some still make ok albums I guess, but not even close to the level they had in the 70s or early 80s. Horace Andy for instance. He made some ok records in the 90s, but imo very weak in comparison to his 70s work. Linval Thompson released some newly recorded 7's in recent years, none of which really excite me, because it's just a not so good copy of what it used to be. Johnny Clarke same thing. Yellowman, wicked albums in the early 80s, crap albums in recent years. Barrington Levy's recent output is not very interesting either. Burning Spear imo never reached the level of his 70s output afterwards. He had some nice albums, but none of which very worthwhile. One of his latest efforts, Free Man or so, was his best in years imo, but compared to other vocal albums released by guys like Luciano, Bushman, Jah Cure etc nothing special. U-Brown, one of my favourites from the late 70s, early 80s doesn't sound as good anymore on for instance that album for Jah Warrior imo. The list goes on and on. And before someone sees this as a reason to come with the 'new-sucks' argument, that's not it! I love the new riddims with the new artists on it, but much more than once it happens that if a 'veteran' voices a new riddim it sounds weak compared to other takes on the riddim of nowadays big artists. To me it's kinda like that they can't play the roots from back then anymore and these 'veterans' can't voice the new style riddims as good as the 'recent' artists or as they did on the old riddims. Live on stage though, many of these artists still are solid and great, but their new recordings often don't work for me next to the recent output from the 'stars from nowadays'.

A few exceptions are for instance Cocoa Tea, Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott.

I think I stated it enough above, but to be sure: all in my opinion ofcourse.

Opinions?
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Postby Dubac » Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:14 pm

I haven't voted 'against the motion' above because I agree in principle BMC - 99% of the time I've been disappointed.

But a couple of notable exceptions, I think, are Ranking Joe and Joseph Cotton. They both seem to be churning out a few wicked cuts on new and recycled rhythms that are at least the equal of when they were considered to be in their prime. (Presuming, of course, that the recordings genuinely were voiced in 2004.)

Dubac
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Postby Dubac » Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:24 pm

s'pose I should have presented the evidence to the jury? The type of thing I'm talking about:

JC - Pull Dem Down (Ali Baba) on Heartical
JC - Wicked Running (Cuss Cuss) on Education

RJ - World In Trouble on Fleximix
RJ - One Jah (Cuss Cuss) on Education

Forgot to mention Michael/Mykal Rose too - he seems to keep going strong on JA 7" and collaborations such as Twilight Circus.
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Postby nickbug » Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:38 pm

The Francis and Franklin Stand Firm album was one of the best new albums I'd heard in ages. For that reason I'm happy to hear new stuff by old artists.

One other reason, and I maybe completely wrong about this. Isn't it likely that a lot of the older artists, who got criminally ripped off in the past, at least get a better deal when they issue stuff these days?

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Postby BMC » Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:45 pm

Yes Dubac, good call on Rose and Ranking Joe. Both still very good.

Nick, I'm not saying these artists shouldn't record anymore. If they can make money like this and probably more honoust and more garantee (sp?) because of a good deal than before, they should do it. It's only that the recordings simply are not good enough for me to buy 'm and that these ones great artists can't compete with their recent output with many of the recent singers and deejays.
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Postby Pluto » Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:10 pm

I think one should bare in mind that 'old' reggae artists face problems like these:

They are usually judged by their past achievements and their contributions to reggae history in-the-making when obviously they cannot produce ground-breaking genre-defining music throughout their career.

Music trends in reggae change very quickly and roots artists from the past have difficulties following these trends, especially when they don't have the ability to make new songs from scratch but have to voice tunes over existing new rhythm tracks that don't fit them.

Artists who had a commercial breakthrough sometime in their career are occasionally caught in the trap of making 'crossover' material trying to repeat their past success, which results in commercial and artistic failures - 'mainstream' audiences ignore them and their fan bases become alienated.

I believe that the pressure to make a 'hit' must be quite huge in reggae throughout its history, so producers and executives usually don't want to risk with old artists and rather make music with new people that feel the vibes of 'today'. So, it's not always those 'old' artists' fault if they're not able to record music the way they would like to.

And it's not surprising that when some of these 'veterans' link up with producers and people who are admirers of their music (i.e. UK producers or JA ones who still release roots) and are provided with fitting rhythms and no much of artistic pressure & limitations to make a 'hit' record, they can produce very fine material.

To the list of artists who still 'got it' I would also add Prince Alla who did some very good stuff with UK producers or Horace Andy who used the recognition he got from being a member of Massive Attack to gain artistic freedom and recorded an excellent album on Melankolic ("Living In The Flood") - there's an interview with Carter Van Pelt where he states that this could be his best album ever!

I haven't got lots of such releases (I'm still mostly focused on 70s roots), but I would say that new albums from 'vintage' artists do sound intriguing if they are done properly.
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Postby BMC » Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:23 pm

Pluto wrote:I think one should bare in mind that 'old' reggae artists face problems like these:

They are usually judged by their past achievements and their contributions to reggae history in-the-making when obviously they cannot produce ground-breaking genre-defining music throughout their career.


That's not completely true. There are a number of recent titles by for instance Linval Thompson or Johnny Clarke as one of a number of tunes on a riddim. The Ali Baba riddim mentionned above by Dubac is a good example. The Johnny Clarke is simply weak compared to some others on the riddim, so they're compared with the artists that did the same as they did: voice that specific riddim and that's how I judge singles like that. And voicing just riddims happened a lot back then too, maybe more nowadays, but it's not a new thing.

Horace Andy who used the recognition he got from being a member of Massive Attack to gain artistic freedom and recorded an excellent album on Melankolic ("Living In The Flood") - there's an interview with Carter Van Pelt where he states that this could be his best album ever!


That was one of the albums I meant when I mentionned Andy above. The album is ok, but compared to his older work for Bunny Lee and Coxsone both riddims and vocals are mediocre imho.
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Postby Pluto » Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:12 pm

BMC wrote:There are a number of recent titles by for instance Linval Thompson or Johnny Clarke as one of a number of tunes on a riddim. The Ali Baba riddim mentionned above by Dubac is a good example. The Johnny Clarke is simply weak compared to some others on the riddim, so they're compared with the artists that did the same as they did: voice that specific riddim and that's how I judge singles like that.


I understand your point :arrow: new singers can cut better material than veterans even on the same rhythms, and that's quite logic. And as you check the new stuff a lot I believe that you're right on that happening in most of the cases. But this is what I pointed out in my post above:

Pluto wrote:Music trends in reggae change very quickly and roots artists from the past have difficulties following these trends, especially when they don't have the ability to make new songs from scratch but have to voice tunes over existing new rhythm tracks that don't fit them.


BMC wrote:And voicing just riddims happened a lot back then too, maybe more nowadays, but it's not a new thing.


That's true, but rhythms have changed a lot throughout the years, i.e. can't imagine hearing a John Holt or a Ken Boothe over one of the current dancehall rhythms of our days.

Pluto wrote:Horace Andy (...) recorded an excellent album on Melankolic ("Living In The Flood")


BMC wrote:That was one of the albums I meant when I mentionned Andy above. The album is ok, but compared to his older work for Bunny Lee and Coxsone both riddims and vocals are mediocre imho.


Well, tastes vary, but I was very much surprised with that album for being so consistent with a detailed production and a nice jazz-y ambience. And by comparing it to his Bunny Lee or Studio One output you're making the mistake I pointed out in my first post, second sentence :wink:

This is a quite interesting topic you opened, btw... 8)
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Postby BMC » Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:41 pm

Pluto wrote:And by comparing it to his Bunny Lee or Studio One output you're making the mistake I pointed out in my first post, second sentence :wink:


Oops, correct! :lol:

Thing is, that album also doesn't do it for me compared to other releases from that time either (what was it, 1999?). I mean Cocca Tea or Luciano or Morgan Heritage released albums then, they were all better imo and I gave that Andy quite a few spins, hoping for hearing stuff I missed time after time, but except for two songs, it was a very average release compared to other reggae releases that year from 'recent' artists. But yes, as you say, taste and all that! :D

Cheers!
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Postby NannyMaroon » Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:42 pm

Joseph Hill or Culture, whichever, has been pretty consistent as an "Artist". He may not be reaching anynew territory(is anybody in reggae?) but you know what your going to get from him.
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Postby tim p » Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:57 pm

Cedric Myton put out a tune called BattleField on the Congo label last year sometime, a Dancehall type thing on Stalag - it was good but not great. Anyway if they are going to record more stuff then I'd have thought this was a better direction to go in than being some kind of roots oldies band.
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Postby rez » Fri Jan 07, 2005 4:30 pm

SuperCat is pretty good to these ears when he decides to release something...and was at the top of the game from early eighties right through the nineties which is good going.

I agree in general, although I think that it's true to pretty much all musical genre's if not all art as a whole....people are generally best when they are young and hungry for success...
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Postby ephteeay » Sat Jan 08, 2005 6:34 am

i think if members of the radics/revolutionaries got together with real instruments and a singer like horace andy/linval/j clarke etc etc etc they wouldnt have a problem recording something as good as they have in the past with the old (meaning good :D) feel to it...
its possible.....
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Postby BMC » Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:06 am

ephteeay wrote:i think if members of the radics/revolutionaries got together with real instruments and a singer like horace andy/linval/j clarke etc etc etc they wouldnt have a problem recording something as good as they have in the past with the old (meaning good :D) feel to it...
its possible.....


I don't think so. :cry:
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Postby James » Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:27 am

On the whole I think the 'conditions of production' socially as well as musically (and technologically) that made 60s and 70s reggae so great have passed and that is why, for me, more recent recordings by classic artists always seem rather lacking. I love the Heart of the Congoes album but it has as much to do with the dark alchemy of the Black Ark and Lee Perry's innovative production techniques back then than the talents of the singers themselves. For this reason I can't say a new album by the Congoes fills me with much excitement.

That said, I think great results can be achieved, especially when using old rhythms - as with the Bitty McClean album, or the last Wailing Souls Studio One album, which seemed infused with all the original S1 magic.
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