Dusted Features

Old reggae >>> 2007

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Rob Hatch-Miller puts down his Alton Ellis record to write about the few records that cracked his Kingston cartel.

Old reggae >>> 2007

Was it just me, or was 2007 a lackluster year for new music? It's possible I was just too distracted by other things to pay close enough attention. It was a terrific year at the movies. I loved No Country For Old Men, Zodiac, The Host, the documentary Billy The Kid, and the new print of Charles Burnett's 30-year-old UCLA thesis film Killer Of Sheep. It was a fascinating year for politics, too. It was disappointing to watch the new Democratic majority cave to the president on just about every issue and be rendered even more impotent by constant Republican filibusters and vetoes. But at least we got to enjoy the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and its starting to look like 2008 could be a pretty good year for my favorite presidential candidate.

For the first time since I started making these lists, it was tough to come up with ten records that really grabbed my attention. Jay-Z made up for last year's Kingdom Come with the far better American Gangster, the Kanye West album was decent, and M.I.A.'s "Jimmy" was novel for the first couple of listens. But none of that stuff really stuck with me. An imported box set of recordings by Mario De Andrade - you could call him the Brazilian Alan Lomax - would probably have topped my "Best Of 2007" list had I been able to afford a copy. The live musical event of the year for me was the 77 Boadrum performance under the Brooklyn Bridge, and it wasn't even the best Boredoms show out of two that I've seen.

When I wasn't listening to Alton Ellis, Susan Cadogan, or Phyllis Dillon, the following were the new releases and reissues that played on my stereo in 2007.

Panda Bear - Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)

In my opinion, no other new record in 2007 came anywhere close to Person Pitch. If I had to pick the single best album of the year, this would be the one. Also, Panda Bear was phenomenal on his short solo tour.

Tully - Sea Of Joy (Em)

Em Records reissued a series of forgotten surf movie soundtracks this year, and Tully's was by far the best of the bunch. The group featured members of the great Australian band Extradition. While some moments are reminiscent of Vashti Bunyan, the album is too all-over-the-place to be simply described as psychedelic folk.

Brenda Ray - Walatta (Em)

Another great release from this idiosyncratic and amazingly consistent Japanese record label. In the '80s, Brenda was the singer for Naffi and Brenda And The Beachballs. Brenda made these tracks over the last 10 years by dubbing vocals and additional instruments over old reggae tracks produced by Errol Thompson, Scientist, and others.

Devin The Dude - Waiting To Inhale (Rap-A-Lot)

I can't pretend to know much about Southern hip-hop, or hip-hop in general. But a friend who writes for Wax Poetics recommended this album and it really blew me away. "What A Job," with verses from Andre 3000 and Snoop Dogg, was probably my favorite track on any album in 2007.

UGK - Underground Kingz (Jive)

Another Houston hip hop album, with another fantastic Outkast cameo. This probably would have made my list on the strength of the single alone. It's incredibly tragic that Pimp C died so soon after coming out of prison, and in the same year his group released its best album.

Jim Ford - The Sounds Of Our Time (Bear Family)

Jim Ford also died in 2007, although he had quite a few years on Pimp C. This is actually a reissue of Ford's 1969 Dunhill Records release Harlan County, with a few bonus tracks. Jim wrote some great Southern soul songs for people like Bobby Womack and Aretha Franklin, and his own album is a bit like Tony Joe White or Elvis Presley.

Eduardo Mateo - Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame (Lion Productions)

This is a really beautiful album by Uruguayan singer-songwriter Eduardo Mateo, originally released in 1972. Lion Productions also reissued a very good album by Mateo's rock band El Kinto, but I liked the acoustic solo album quite a bit more.

Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss (Dial)

This Bliss was one of the only electronic albums that made it onto my radar this year. I loved the artist's previous record Diamond Daze, and this one is even better. I went up to New Hampshire to volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign a few months back, and Pantha Du Prince made a great soundtrack for the drive.

Richard Crandell - In The Flower Of Our Youth (Sound Advice)

I first heard of Richard Crandell when his Mbira Magic record came out on Tzadik, and afterward found out about his sought-after private press guitar records from the 1980s. I tried to buy an original copy of this one from Crandell himself a few years ago but it didn't work out. So when he came to town to play at The Stone this year, I was happy to learn that he'd reissued all of his early LPs as nicely packaged and digitally remastered CDs. I'm a sucker for a great solo acoustic guitar album, and while In The Flower Of Our Youth may not be up there with The Legend Of Blind Joe Death, its pretty damned wonderful.

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (Domino)

I liked Panda Bear's solo album a lot more than the new Animal Collective record, but Strawberry Jam grew on me a lot after the first couple of listens. I admit it isn't their best record. But in a year when so many critically acclaimed bands like Deerhunter and Le Loup sounded exactly like them, it wouldn't be fair to leave them off. Plus, I'd only have nine records if I didn't put it on the list.

By Rob Hatch-Miller

Read More

View all articles by Rob Hatch-Miller

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.