Rarely comes an Lp that I would buy on spec, but this was one…. and it arrived yesterday. It sounds like it should be a great album, indeed many are saying that it is.. With an eclectic choice of instrumentation, Dan himself at the helm, the mystical sound we can expect from him and the help in it’s Mixing of Damon Albarn’s (of Blur) re-mixing studio it looks on paper like it ticks the right boxes and should make the grade, but… I don’t think it does, not by a thousand miles.
Junior Dan, well known for 70’s massive Roots tunes like ‘Look Out For The Devil’ (re-issued as a 10″ by Honest Jons Records) has just recently put out Reggae Road Map a full L.p. on his own Hi-Try label. Artwork, sleevenotes and insert all put together by Dan himself, this Lp intially shone out as a effort in a wilderness that normally only gives birth to quick snapshots of an artists all too prolific (and thus poorer quality) career. Four of the tunes I understand were recorded at the Black Ark and have been kept ‘under wraps’ since.
BUT the album is an absolute mess.
Rarely do you hear a combined round of applause from the self appointed Reggae cognocenti, but that’s what is happening out there. Various message boards and ‘chat-rooms’ ring with praises for what many are calling the best Reggae album for years, but I can’t understand why, has anyone actually listened to it???
The noise floor on it, tape hiss you might like to call it, is incredibly intrusive, seperation in the mix all but non existant, it is muddy, EQ’d poorly, weak, and worst of all just lacks overall from a distinct paucity of any musical or solid lyrical focus. In my opinion it’s a really bad lp,… and I was so excited!
The Lp has all of the frequency range of a microphone under 50 meters of sea water and it sounds like they recorded to eighth of an inch tape on a 4 track Tascam Portastudio, remixed through an old Pioneer graphic EQ to B.A.S.F. normal Ferric Oxide C60 tape and then mastered to a cowpat via a knitting needle and empty bean tin stuck to the speaker cone of an old ghetto Blaster. All I can say is, by the sound of this Lp, Albarn’s re-mix studio must be in his old teenager’s sock ridden bedroom and if I was clutching some multitrack tape or data on a hardisk that needed remixing, I’d run in the opposite direction from wherever that studio is located just in case!
Frankly it sounded like it was remixed in a Gorilla’s studio by a primate and not … well you get the gag!
By all means tell me I’m wrong, tell me it’s a work of genius and Dan was only trying to ape Lee Perry’s recording technics in his approximation of Perry’s and the Black Ark’s aural landscape and to match the sound of the four or so tunes on the L.P. originally recorded there, please tell me I’m wrong about this album, I need you to convince me that I’m not upset that I spent some of the very little money I have available these days to buy records on this one!
Don’t get me wrong, I love Junior Dan’s stuff, or at least the little I have heard of it, just not this. It’s a real pity too, a missed opportunity because he obviously cares massively about what he does.
Sorry Junior, I mean no disrespect, I just don’t like this Lp at all.
Go and buy his previously released and first tune on revive 7″ single ‘House Is Not A Home’, it’s definately worth having, and I’m glad I bought that one at least!