Send I A Lion
Nighthawk & Omnivore Records
Re-Mixed and Re-modelled Cool Front Line Reggae.
When I were but a lad my love of Reggae and Ska came via spending a lot of pocket money buying ‘Reggae Chartbuster’ LP’s and then ‘Sampler Albums’ from Record Companies, most memorably the Trojan releases and then FRONT LINE from Virgin Records, which was a proverbial ‘Game Changer’. Introducing me to a type of music the likes of which I’d never heard before.
Which brings me to the latest release from Omnivore Records, SEND I A LION which showcases the Nighthawk Label whose recent re-releases have astounded me; and it appears you too!
The legendary Culture give us the perfect opener with Calling Rastafari; a typical ‘chant’ with a hypnotic melody that will not just have you swaying along but listening intently too.
Bongo Red from The Gladiators follows and I swear even sitting here on the sofa my hips and buttocks are dancing along with no help from my brain.
That, for me is the beauty of this style of Reggae (*other much harder rhythms are available elsewhere) white boys like me can dance along to The Mighty Diamonds’ 4000 Years (**) or Ronnie Davis & Idren’s Move On Oppressor; but plenty of Afro-Caribbean listeners will be listening intently to the messages contained therein ….. and the messages are very powerful indeed.
Hardcore Reggae fans will probably already own versions of many of these tracks; be it on the Nighthawk re-releases or the million versions these guys record as and when they need some cash over the years; but culled together in this format a whole new generation can savour the delights of Wailing Souls’ Harbor Shark or Justin Hinds’ timeless Travel With Love, and especially his Weeping Eyes too.
I could close my eyes and stick a pin into the track list to give you my Favourite Track; but I will try to be more professional (as if!).
Obviously Ethiopian and His Allstars’ Train to Skaville has to be a contender; but then again Junior Byles’ Thanks and Praise is a joy every time I hear it; but so too is Morwells’ Young Lover with it’s gorgeous Rocksteady undertones; which leaves me with Winston Jarrett and the Righteous Flames Bad Boy, which is as tough a Reggae song as we find here; and would surely have been a floor-filler in World HQ ‘back in the day’; so that is the official RMHQ Favourite Track on this fabulous album.
Seamlessly mixing the commercial end of the Reggae spectrum with the political and religious sides too; Nighthawk/Omnivore have compiled a really balanced album that will appeal to all kinds of music fans; but hopefully the younger generation.
** The album closes with the original demo of 4000 years, featuring Tabby from The Mighty Diamonds on a 4 string box-guitar and ‘Bunny Diamond providing rhythm played on the back of a phone book!’
Released 15th November 2019