ATX Sound System: January 3, 2019

Pressure Sounds Hits 100

One of the pioneering reggae reissue labels, Pressure Sounds began in London in the mid-90s as an offshoot of Adrian Sherwood’s hard-dubbing On-U Sound label. On-U co-conspirator Pete Holbrook soon took over the label. He would go on to procure and release some of the most interesting and hard-to-find titles in the reggae/dub canon (from artists and producers such as Yabby You, King Tubby, Bunny Lee, Joe Higgs, Jimmy Riley and Lee “Scratch” Perry). In 2018, Pressure Sounds celebrated its’ 100th release (with a long-lost 1982 album by I-Mo-Jah, more on which below). In a new interview for Vinyl Factory, DJ/producer/dub aficionado Wrong Tom and label owner Holbrook talk about the history of Pressure Sounds and how Holbrook’s punk/DIY roots inform the fiercely-independent approach he has taken to running Pressure Sounds (and working with Jamaican artists) over the last 20+ years. Read it here: Independence Dub: Pressure Sounds at 100. We’ve also marked the occasion by adding some of our favorite Pressure Sounds tracks to the Austin Reggae Fest Playlist on Spotify.

 

The Legend of I-Mo-Jah

The 100th release on Pressure Sounds was certainly a notable one: Rockers From The Land of Reggae is an album by the group I-Mo-Jah that was released on a small label in 1982 but had disappeared into obscurity. Fetching triple-digit figures on Discogs, it had become, in the words of Wrong Tom, “almost mythical.” Not only was it musically unique, but it was the one and only album released by I-Mo-Jah, a group formed by Phillip Fullwood with Winston McKenzie and American vocalist Cassandra Jenkins. A devout Rastafarian, Fullwood was no stranger to Niyabinghi chanting, and its’ influence is evident in the songs here. There’s a bit of rocksteady and Motown, too, but make no mistake: This is a roots album. Meanwhile, Fullwood’s circle of friends (he had previously worked with Burning Spear and Freddie McKay, among others) would lead to an impressive supporting cast on the album’s backing tracks: Sly and Robbie, Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Errol “Flabba” Holt and Studio One drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, to name a few. Legend has it that Fullwood moved to the US and retired from music shortly after the release of this album. But, at last, it’s now available for all to enjoy. You can check out a couple of tracks for yourself on the Austin Reggae Fest Playlist.

 

Time for Y-Bayani’s Band of Enlightenment, Reason and Love

Y-Bayani (pronounced “why buy-anee”) is a roots reggae artist hailing not from Jamaica but from Ghana, in West Africa. In January of last year he released a curious little 7-inch on the Berlin-based Philophon label that not only caught our attention but ended up on our 2018 best-of list. Therefor, we were excited to learn that January 2019 sees the release of a brand new single (along with news of a possible album in the works, too) from the newly-christened Y-Bayani and His Band of Enlightenment, Reason And Love. The singer was discovered by Philophon’s founder and in-house producer, Max Weissenfeldt, while visiting the home of another Ghanaian musician, Roy X, in the town of Saltpond, Ghana. Y-Bayani was staying at Roy’s house following the closure of his clock repair business (a casualty of mobile phones, apparently). The serendipitous timing would lead to a guest vocal with The Polyversal Souls and a series of singles that will please any old-skool reggae fan, as they feature Y-Bayani’s hypnotic Fanti language vocals sung over authentically-recorded, analog instrumentals. We’ll add the new track to our Austin Reggae Fest Playlist as soon as it’s out, but you can get a sneak preview of it here.

 

This Week’s Austin Reggae Fest Spotify Playlist

Click here to hear the dub sounds we have been listening to the last few days.