Star-Bulletin Features

Sunday, May 6, 2001

Album cover

Putumayo gives
reggae rendition

"Putumayo Presents: Jamaica"
Various Artists (Putumayo World Music)

Review by Gary C.W. Chun

What started eight years ago as a promotional product for the nontraditional clothing company has become an effective marketing tool for introducing world music to curious Western audiences. Putumayo World Music has produced more than 60 CDs, the great majority of them sampler compilations, the latest being this fine, 42-minute collection of reggae featuring a mixture of well-known and relatively obscure artists.

"The Putumayo World Music Hour" can be heard at 4 p.m. every Sunday on Hawaii Public Radio's KIPO FM, 89.3.

The CD kicks off with the classic funkiness of "Reggae Got Soul" by Toots and the Maytals, featuring Toots Hibbert's declarative, soulful voice. Black Uhuru is represented from its prime period when the band worked with heavy-duty riddimists Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare; "Sponji Reggae" is a top-notch number familiar to Hawaii listeners. And there's a fine rarity from Peter Tosh called "Mystery Babylon" that closes the CD.

While the choice of songs from Jimmy Cliff and Joe Higgs could've been stronger, it's balanced out with selections from other great reggae artists not known to a wide audience. Vocal groups like Culture ("Why Am I a Rastaman") and the Gladiators ("Streets of Freedom"), moody instrumentals by pivotal figures Rico Rodriguez ("Midnight in Ethiopia") and the mysterious Augustus Pablo ("Point Blank"), offer up fine examples of their work.

But my personal favorites are "Rudeboy Shufflin'," with the sinewy and stealthy vocal work of Israel Vibration, and Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus' "None a Jah Jah Children No Cry," a prime piece of that raw roots Rasta sound, complete with those trance-inducing Nyabinghi drums.

With good overview liner notes by Mark Gorney, you've got a collection that serves that Jamaican sound well.

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin