CD Review: A Lesson in Vibes

I consider myself to be a relatively new listener when it come so soca music. Having just gained an extreme interest in the music, despite my almost constant access to it, within just the past five years, there is still much about the modern age of soca and even more of the calypso eras which I don't know about. Thus, I am always on the lookout to expand on, not only my collection, but my knowledge of the genre as well. So, I pickup virtually every new compilation as well as older compilation which I can find (and when you live in the Caribbean, the shelves are JAM PACKED with soca comps, perhaps just as much as reggae); with the overall goal of being someday to have just as vast a knowledge base for soca that I do for my other favorite musical genre, reggae.

Luckily for me someone at VP Records also has an interest which matches (well, exceeds, they actually spend a great deal more than $13.95 on these albums I imagine) mine. The reggae giant label routinely supprts the genre, much moreso than any label (major or indie) which has an established name in the music (with respect to J&W). They have the 2 comps, which they release anualy, the MASSIVE Soca Gold and the nice D'Soca Zone, combined with the fact that just since the turn of the century, VP has released albums for soca acts, 3 Suns, Bunji Garlin and Edwin Yearwood, and have been the main distributor for our top rankin soca artist, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. And just recently, they added soca king Garlin, to their extensive list of exclusive recording artists (they also have Yearwood signed as well).

Then there's the Soca 101 series as well. The series which is actually marketed to the dj community, serves to fans as well to give them an update on earlier records of the exciting genre. Therefore, it isn't rare to get such an album and seen names like Bunji and Destra on one end and Arrow and Sparrow on the other end, and what can I say? I love it!

The result of such planning is a wonderfully inclusive and even educational project (I dont really think they intended it to be educational hahahah!). This, the 3rd and most recent installment of the series is without a doubt the highwater point for the entire series, which goes to hope that VP chooses to do what they did with volumes one and two and release volume 4 sometime in 2007. And as soca continues to gain in popularity and in the VP Records release rotation, this series figures to become more and more of a priority.

The album starts out well strong with two BOOMSHOTS. Both Lift Ya Leg Up by Spic & Co. and Jump and Wave by the Calypso Preacher are exceptionally strong. With Lift Ya Leg Up getting the album kicked off with a very powerful vibe, almost immediately making you happy that you bought this one (that's VERY important, I can't tell you how many times I've bought an album and spinned track #1 first and been completely disappointed with the purchase as a whole!). It is ever so slightly topped by the MASSIVE Jump and Wave which is a soca favorite, but the first time that I had heard the tune and I LOVE IT! Jump and Wave is more of the big and vibrant sounding soca which I enjoy and just make you wish you were in the midst of millions jumping!

So the discussion for what my favorite tune from Soca 101 Vol. 3 pretty much began and ended between those two track. Until I heard track 3.

The honor of best track without a doubt goes to absolutely divine De River by the Blue Ventures with Sanell Dempster on lead vocals. The song takes that big soca vibe and adds a wonderful vocalist to the mix and Ms Dempster is one of my favorites, she does this big track justice! Definitely worth the price of admissions alone just within the first 3 tracks, but there are several other tracks in the balance of the album which make it even better.

Check the last 3 as well! The classic calypso vibe of Gu Nu Gu by Mighty Sparrow, is part of what makes an album like this such a wonderful idea. Of course keep going and check Byron Lee and the Dragonaires on Wine Down with an excellent effort, not only by Lee and the Dragonaires, but by a fine fine uncredited female singer as well. Lastly, finishing the album is the excellent (and probably 4th best tune altogether) Tempo by Ellie Matt & The GI's Brass. The song is a nice mix of not only vocals, but excellent instrumentation as well, with a couple of minute long brilliant passes of instruments alone!

Other highlights include Sweatin by Krosfyah of course, always check them out in any situation! Check Moses doing pure soca showing his versatility on the fine fine Jump and Wine, definitely happy they made that inclusion of that one and Beenie puts forth a fine effort. Check soca VET Devon George on the strong If Ah Rude Ah Rude, sounding like a dancehall track wrapped into a soca vibe.

Lastly, check out musically the most interesting track here, Showdown. Showdown is a strong combination between two soca bands, XTatik and Burning Flames, and its as crazy and as hype as you would imagine if you are familiar with the two groups, and just one of the several hidden gems you pickup when you pickup and album like this.

Overall, definitely recommending Soca 101, Vol. 3 and even the first 2 should you be able to find them. Its a wonderful series for the new soca fan in particular, I imagine the more established soca heads just might have ALL these tracks in the collection already. The vibes are at the top! And this after a fantastic year for soca music, hopefully looking forward to a great '07.

Bramoi for Trini Jungle Juice


Soca 101, Vol. 3 - Various Artists (VP Records)
Release Date: Feb 7th, 2006

Track Listings
01. Lift Ya Leg Up - Spice & Company
02. Jump & Wave - Preacher
03. De River - Blue Ventures
04. Sweatin' - Krosfyah - (featuring Edwin Yearwood)
05. Ah Feel To Party Tonight - Winston Soso
06. Wanna Dance - Arrow
07. Raise Yuh Hand - Flyin Cloud
08. Jump & Wine - Beenie Man
09. Lethal Batty - El-A-Kru
10. Hold Up Yuh Foot & Jump - Zulu Lightening
11. If Ah Rude Ah Rude - Devon George
12. Showdown (Band Meet Band) - Xtatik - (featuring Burning Flames)
13. Man Ah Bad Man - Bud
14. Gu Nu Gu - The Mighty Sparrow
15. Wine Down - Byron Lee
16. Tempo - Ellie Matt & The GI's Brass