Reggae & Funk / February 2020

I had these short reviews ready to go a while back but recent events meant they got sidelined. Apologies to those who sent music and promos. I think all of these releases are still in shops.

dhaima love lives forever

Dhaima`s Love Lives Forever is a record that I used to close last month`s Looking For The Balearic Beat, but to be honest I couldn’t find an easy way to link it into the rest of the review text, so I’m using it again now to introduce a few recent funk, reggae, soul releases. It was Hell Yeah!`s Marco Gallerani who tipped me off to the wonder of Dhaima. When he came to hang out in Karuizawa, just before Christmas, he had a copy with him. A promo he`d managed to pick up in Kyoto’s purveyors of the weird and wonderful, Meditations. The lead track, Reggae On Sunset, and its dub, Sweat Til Your Body’s Wet, are both pieces of increasingly tripped-out, vocoder-ed electro, that first appeared on Dhaima`s RQP (Reggae Queen Productions) in 1982. The 12 co-produced by Philip Michael Thomas, a couple of years before he found fame as Rico Tubbs in Miami Vice. Sharing the producers chair was JA veteran musician, Geoffrey Chung. Whose career spanned rocksteady in the 60s and stints with Boris Gardiner`s Now Generation, Bunny Lee`s Aggrovators, and Lee Perry`s Upsetters, and had relocated to Miami in the `80s. Back in Jamaica he`d also produced acts such as The Heptones and The Abyssinians. Dhaima hailed from Tennessee but worked extensively with Rita Marley and Joe Gibbs. Her Gibbs-produced classic, Ina Jah Children, also just got a repress. 

More electronic reggae / lovers rock comes in the shape of Yvonne Archer`s cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan`s Ain`t Nobody. Reissued and re-edited, with and epic rock undercurrent, by Adelaide’s Isle Of Jura, it rivals Charly Simon’s Why in the balearic skanking stakes. Originally released on John Rubie`s Virgo Stomach label – perhaps best known for Lion Youth`s Rat A Cut Bottle – the reissue is already beginning to fetch figures on Discogs. 

Something less machine-made is Horus` repress of Audrey Hall`s Groove Situation. Written and produced by Keith Rowe for his Kebar imprint in 1976. Rowe himself later recorded the song with Lee Perry – in `77 – for Island off-shoot, Black Swan. 

Last of the reggae selections is a double-headed hit from Studio One`s Jamaican keyboard king, Jackie Mittoo. Soul Jazz have a 12” that features both Oboe and Wall Street. Two 9 minutes-plus cuts of hypnotic genius. Where, while listening time seems to evaporate.  Have I been listening for 5 or 15 minutes? On Oboe, the flute-like main riff, and improvisations there of, performed with Jackie’s left hand, and undercut by a Hammond B3, simultaneously, with his right. The vibrato of Wall Street drifting in and out, sometimes falling away to just let that bass play. 

Soul, of an organic nature, comes from Sweet Mixture, and the Reverend Harvey Gates. The latter, a world weary blues, from 1978, that featured on Luaka Bop`s The Time For Peace Is Now compilation, but now gets the repro 45 treatment. In stark contrast the former is an electric-keyed, sunshine-strummed strut – licensed out of 70s Chicago by London’s Discs Of Fun And Love. 

On the electro front, Left Ear Records have the masters for Rajan James` previously demo-only Impossible Dreams. Recorded in London in 1985, it appeared, in truncated form on the One Giant Leap collection of hopefuls put together by 101 International. Rajan`s hopes for California dance to drum machines, bump to a proto-house b-line. Soar to a soloing sax. The similarly fortified funk of Rajan`s later, sole, single Time, was also recently reissued by Miss You. 

*Lion Youth`s Rat A Cut Bottle was the first 12” single I ever bought. 

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