Caribbean Playlist (July/August 2013)

Recent tunes to get your feet tapping

Morgan Heritage

Here Come the Kings Morgan Heritage
(VP Records, ASIN B00C2U6EY2)

Fans of Morgan Heritage — the band known globally as the “Royal Family of Reggae” — will be excited to hear they have released their first album in five years, aptly named Here Come the Kings. Formed twenty-one years ago by eight children of well-known Jamaican musician Denroy Morgan, the band has become one of the most powerful forces in contemporary reggae. Accused by reggae purists of having a shameless crossover mentality, they have declared that what they do is “reggae music with an edge.” Their crossover appeal is very evident on the new album’s first single, “Perfect Love Song”, in which they keep the roots vibe yet manage to please listeners’ ears with some soulful lyrics. And dedicated followers will be eager to hear the track featuring Gramps Morgan deejaying on a Morgan Heritage song for the first time in over ten years.

Here Come the Kings also carries a fairly faithful cover of the top-ten Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney hit “The Girl Is Mine”, bringing a dancehall vibe to the song by replacing the conversation with a singjay verse. And the band does manage to go back to the message roots their admirers have come to embrace with “Man Has Forgotten”, “Dem a Run Come”, and the anthem “Stand Up”, where they urge listeners to “remember how Jah mek ya.” While not breaking any new musical ground with this release, Here Come the Kings is still a must-listen for reggae enthusiasts who like their rhythms smooth.
 

Deseo Maria Bacardi
(Breaking Records, ASIN B00ATURNQ0)

Born in Cuba — her great-grandfather founded the famous rum company — Maria Bacardi and her family were forced to flee to Spain in 1961, when she was just four. There, huddled in the family’s living-room on cold nights, her mother would pull out her guitar and start to sing. Along with songs of love, Bacardi’s mother also lamented the loss of not being able to return to the land that they had left — and would never see again. Now an artist, poet, and musician living in New York, Bacardi has taken those memories that shaped her childhood and released a sensational debut album of Cuban bolero songs, titled Deseo — Spanish for “desire.” The first track, featuring her own English translation, is “Como Fue”, but other must-listens include “Yellow Days” (made famous by Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra), and a French rendition of “Guantanamera”, as well as the hauntingly beautiful “Júrame”. Besides her sublime singing, Bacardi is accompanied by an ensemble of greats, including Carlos Gómez on guitar, Pablo Vergara on piano, and Yunior Terry on bass, providing laid-back musical support.

 


 

Single spotlight

Fight This Feeling Shaggy, featuring Beres Hammond (Ranch Entertainment)

Hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Shaggy burst upon the scene with his remix of the ska classic “Oh Carolina”, but here he is again. “Fight This Feeling” is the first single off his upcoming album Out of Many, One Music, released through his new label Ranch Music. For this single, Shaggy has teamed up with the legendary Beres Hammond and producers Sly & Robbie to create the perfect summer song — ideal for romancing the woman in your life.

Reviews by Sheldon Cadet