TRAVEL WITH LOVE and KNOW JAH BETTER
One of Reggae’s Most Innovative Pioneers Legacy Lives On.
Those cool kids at Omnivore Records have done it again; this time as part of their amazing Nighthawk Records collection they have re-discovered, re-produced and repackaged two fabulous albums by Reggae pioneer Justin Hinds and even adding some bonus tracks from those original recording sessions.
TRAVEL WITH LOVE
Originally released in 1984, this album finds Hinds reworking some of his earlier singles from the Treasure Island label this opens with Get Ready, Rock Steady a staple of compilation albums from that era and was perfect for the last half hour of Youth Club Discos; but now with a heavier bass line than I remember (but I am getting old!).
The only other song I remember is Sweet Loraine and forty years later I still found myself shuffling around the kitchen as I made a cup of tea as it slinked out of the office stereo.
But the songs I don’t recognise sound like I should; especially the wailingly beautiful Weeping Eyes and Travel With Love; which feature some of Jamaica’s finest and emerging musicians in the background; but first and foremost the star here is Justin Hind’s amazing voice.
Fans will be astounded and thankful that there are an extra 10 BONUS TRACKS; mostly made up of ‘bass heavy versions’ of the original 8; with three brand new songs from the vault, Meditation, Valley of Reality and my pick for ‘Favourite Track’ Wolf and Sheep showing what a class act Justin Hinds was back in 1984, if these three fabulous songs could originally miss the cut.
KNOW JAH BETTER
More than any other musical sector Reggae musicians have always been more innovative than any other and never sat around ‘counting the cash’ from their hits (as invariably there wasn’t much cash) and they would evolve and innovate to suit market trends; which is what has happened between the last album in 1984 and the release of this much heavier sound in 1992.
Out goes the danceable Rock Steady sound and in comes Dancehall and why this album wasn’t a hit in the style of Gregory Isaacs or Barrington Levy around the same time, I will never know.
Perhaps the title of opening track War Time may have put people off; but it shouldn’t as it’s only slightly political but very, very danceable; and is immediately followed by a Dub version; which I strangely prefer.
A couple of tracks really stand the test of time, with Almond Tree conjuring up images of sitting on the beach with the one your love watching the sun go down and both Deep In The Heart and Love In The Morning with their sharper beats and funkier bass are exactly what I was listening to in the cooler clubs around town at that very time; which really does beggar the question as to why this never made the shelves of record stores in Newcastle….or did it?
Then there is No Place Like Home, which should surely have been a hit record; but appears to have just languished in a record company vault for a quarter of a century; but is now (alongside the album itself) is destined to be a crucial part of the RMHQ Soundtrack to Summer 2018.
There’s not a lot else to say as both albums are a lovely snapshot in time; but still sound as fresh today as they would have when they were recorded; and it’s a huge shame that Justin Hinds didn’t live to see and hear his legacy in the Reggae music that is being recorded today.
Released February 23rd 2018