ALBUM REVIEW BY MARLON BURRELL: “REAL REGGAE MUSIC” BY RICHIE STEVENS!

RichieStevens:RealReggaeMusic2

Someone knew what they were doing when they decided to name this album “Real Reggae Music” because that is exactly what you get. The formula here is very simple. Some original well-written songs, a couple of updated reggae classics over some well-produced authentic reggae rhythms, many of which are familiar, with one of Jamaica’s finest vocalists doing the crooning.

Top that off with some classic rhythms supplied by the legendary Bunny Lee from his 1970’s heyday given a fresh touch up by a musician/producer nicknamed “Rhythm Master,” and the result is one of the best reggae albums in years.

Review by Marlon Burrell
Review by Marlon Burrell

The singer referred to here as one of Jamaica’s finest is Richie Stephens and the main producer and Richie’s co-writer on all of the originals songs is Danny “Rhythm Master” Browne. There are also three collaborations here to great effect. Three of the tracks were produced by the dynamic duo Steely & Clevie, one by Donovan Germain, and one by Radication Squad.

The album starts off with the title track “Real Reggae Music,” a chart topping single featuring the legendary U Roy on a nice remake of Sound Dimension’s “Swing Easy” rhythm on which the duo reminisce on the days when  “Real Reggae Music” used to play. This sets the tone very well for the high dose of authentic reggae that is to follow. Next up is “Murdah” on Bunny Lee’s cut of the “Dance With Me” rhythm with that real throwback “flyers” sound and is a staple on current reggae radio playlists. Next, Richie declares that he’s “Tougher Than Before” and that his “best is yet to come” on the “Ali Baba” rhythm. By now the music is in high gear and grooving then comes a “Knock Knock Knock.” It’s music upside your head. This track hits hard with a great story and melody on yet another familiar rhythm, Horace Andy’s “The Love Of A Woman.” This is also making the rounds on reggae radio playlists will probably be another chart topper.

Richie Stevens & Daddy U Roy
Richie Stevens & Daddy U Roy

There is not a dull moment on this album as the familiar “Conversation” rhythm rings through on “Set It Off.” This is another song worthy of some heavy airplay and could also be another hit single. Next is another collaboration and for me one of the many high points on this album with some international flavor as German born Gentleman and Italian born Alborosie join Stephens. Make no mistake about it, this Steely & Clevie produced track has an authentic Jamaican vibe and the three artists shine as they ask if the “World Gone Mad” on a stellar version of the “Hot Milk” rhythm. This could be yet another hit single. We hit the halfway mark with a very contemporary version of Bob Marley & The Wailers “No Woman No Cry” produced by Radication Squad. Really different I must say and in a good way.

Richie Stevens & Gentleman
Richie Stevens & Gentleman

Next is the Donovan Germain produced “He’s Blocking Me” on the “Love Me Always” rhythm with a storyline that reminds me of Beres Hammond’s “What One Dance Can Do.” Simply first rate material. Another great story lies in “Where Are You” on the “Silhouette” rhythm and is the polar opposite of “Knock Knock Knock” in terms of the result of story. This is certainly strong enough to be a single. “Rescue Me” is a moving inspirational track on the “Move Out Of Babylon” rhythm and is 100 % fresh. Stephens is joined by another Richie on “True Believer in Love.” Richie Campbell of Portugal is featured here on the track that Stephens appeared on solo on the “Steely & Clevie Presents Memories” ablum from 2011. The reverse is true of the 2012 hit single “I Found Heaven” as Stephens takes this one alone whereas he’s joined by Gentleman on the initial version that was released on the duo’s album “Live Your Life.” This album closes out fittingly with another inspirational piece “Let Jah Will Be Done.”

Producer/songwriter Danny Browne
Producer/songwriter Danny Browne

From beginning to end this album delivers what the title promises, “Real Reggae Music.” There isn’t a dull moment here. Superb songwriting, outstanding production, crisp mixes, and a great selection of classic rhythms producing a throwback sound yet current. “Real Reggae Music” is here in top form just like it used to be. This album is a classic and will be remembered as such. This is the best reggae album in quite a few years. Enjoy!

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