A collection of rare jewels for Burrell fans that represent a father’s legacy being continued by his son
The passing of 57 year old Phillip Fatis Burrell at a time of great nostalgia for his 1990s productions resulted in a huge outpouring of sadness and love for his music. Burrell’s Xterminator empire was a chief architect of the 90s roots revival that helped make Sizzla and Luciano’s names – while giving valuable grounding to next generation artists such as Chezidek and Lutan Fyah.
His son Kareem “Remus” Burrell’s reboot label XTM.Nation has been attracting attention for similarly distinctive rhythms that continue the tradition of clean-sounding, intricate, eclectic live instrument based reggae. And to commemorate a quarter century of the parent imprint he has released this compilation of unreleased material produced by his father, along with his own creations. The cover depicting Luciano, Sizzla, Beres Hammond, Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser and Earl Chinna Smith is illustrated by Original Jeremiyah and the heartfelt liner-notes are penned by writer and friend of Burrell, John Masouri.
Burrell was an old school producer in the mould of Coxsone Dodd. The notes reveal he wanted to be a trumpeter until suffering a police beating that left him unable to play. Xterminator’s actual music was directed by Dean Fraserand Burrell used the finest engineers available such as Stephen Stanley, yet Fatis stamped his personality on the overall sound. The tracks here are clean, smooth, heavily produced and often laden with Fraser’s gushing soprano sax. Despite slick, occasionally MOR arrangements up top, their rhythmic foundations laid by Sly Dunbar and Kirk Bennett definitely maintain their roots.
There are big cultural tunes from Ini Kamoze (the folksy wisdom of We Pop It Off), Pressure Buss Pipe (the militantly drummed Shield & Guide) and Gentleman (the haunting Eyes Wide Open). Lee Scratch Perry delivers an unusually coherent wordsound stream-of-consciousness riff on Ken Boothe’s When I Fall In Love as flange effects cover the instrumentation like metallic spray paint.