ATX Sound System: January 18, 2019

New Album: Eye Judah
Glued to the ATX Sound turntable this week is the debut LP from Ghana’s rising reggae star Eye Judah, entitled Genesis. Since first emerging in 2015, Eye Judah (real name Bernard Okaiteh) has been regularly name-dropped by such Ghanaian reggae royalty as Samini (who guests on one of the tracks here) and Stonebwoy. While the album shares multiple producers, the most notable tracks here are the ones produced by Vincent Mensah. Better known as Beatz Dakay, Mensah was previously the beatmaker behind many of Stonebwoy’s bigger hits. His production style is unexpectedly spare, with a surprising amount of space left between the beats and the instruments. The resulting effect is thoroughly intriguing: The beats feel remarkably rhythmic and percussive, and yet they contain far less actual percussion than your typical reggae riddim. The track “Nuh Play” is a perfect example. Be sure to check it out on the Austin Reggae Fest Playlist on Spotify.

 

Classic Album: Freddie McGregor

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at classic tracks and LPs recorded by artists performing at Austin Reggae Festival 2019. We kick it off this week with the timeless Freddie McGregor and his 1981 album, Big Ship. McGregor was, and remains, a devout Rastafarian who wasn’t afraid to address religious or social concerns in his music. But he could also channel his love of American R&B to deliver some of the sweetest Lovers Rock. Here, the two sides of McGregor combine seamlessly to create probably our favorite album in the Jamaican legend’s catalog. Credit also goes to the team behind this recording: The Roots Radics band, producer Lynval Thompson and mixer Scientist. Fans of Scientist will know that some of his most iconic output in the early 80s utilized Roots Radics sessions produced by Thompson, so the young King Tubby protege is right at home adding his magic touch here. It’s especially evident during the fadeouts and on the drum tracks, which reverberate throughout the album as though they were recorded at the bottom of a well. Wonderful stuff. At one point or another, McGregor would work with every notable producer in the game–from Coxsone Dodd at Studio One to Winston “Niney The Observer” Holness–but Thompson (an artist-turned-producer who, a the time, had only recently returned to Jamaica after completing a studio engineering course in New York) delivers a bonafide classic with Big Ship. In fact, McGregor would end up naming his record label after it! You can check out both original and dub versions from these sessions on the Austin Reggae Fest Playlist on Spotify.

 

This Week’s Austin Reggae Fest Spotify Playlist

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