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Issue 1099

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Review

Brain Damage Meets Big Youth: Beyond The Blue (Code 7 - Jarring Effects)

Brain Damage Meets Big Youth: Beyond The Blue (Side 7 - Jarring Effects)

8

6.3

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UK release date 28.05.2021

Jamaican vocalist Big Youth returns to the fray in an extremely ebullient mood in conjunction with French producer Brain Damage and Samual Clayton, who sadly passed while making this fresh sounding album. It comprises of mainly new tunes highlighting his half sung-style and energetic yelps like his contemporaries U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone.

Opener “2020 I Pray Thee” sees Big Youth in a jazzy skank mood, replete with brush drums lulling us into a false sense of security before the warm electronic reggae tunes assault the senses, gifting us a bouncy uplifting life-affirming slice of joyous Jamaican soul. It’s good to see this artist back, whose up and down career has seen its fair share of peaks and troughs, especially when Bob Marley died and major labels such as Virgin, scaled-down their reggae coverage, as it went into decline. Well, you can’t keep a good man down and this scorcher is going to find him a whole new raft of fans. Martin Nathan AKA Brain Damage has produced a full-bodied piece of work and it’s very playful too.

Looking back to his experience and brief meeting with Big Youth, he notes “working with Jamaican elders is a privilege. I have the deepest respect for what has been accomplished by Big Youth in particular…I wish the things could have been different, we only met briefly because of the pandemic but Big Youth, he still got it!”

Indeed, he has, the ska inflected “These Days” exemplifies this with its jaunty approach and great walking bass. Big Youth is in his ‘blessed be the righteous’ conscious lyrics. These guys celebrate life and the wonders Jah provides for his children. So summing this up, “Beyond The Blue” is a pivotal pairing and an essential cornerstone bringing socially conscious reggae and jazz close together.
Words Emrys Baird

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