In December 2009, London collective Reggae Roast released their first compilation, Roots Uprising, which skanked the line between roots, dub, dubstep and the nebulous areas that link the three. Now they return with their second collection, Lick It Back!, in slightly more of a straight-up roots reggae fashion – and if anything it’s an improvement on their solid work last time around.
Several of the tunes will be familiar as A sides from the label’s own single and EP releases. Evolution, voiced by former On-U Sound singer Ghetto Priest, is a philosophical swung one-drop they put out in November 2010. Righteous is a heavyweight stepping monster chanted on by Iration Steppas’ MC Danman, released in February 2011; while Reggae Music, issued in April with the prolific veteran Earl Sixteen, claims direct lineage to the days of old when King Tubby ruled the dance.
Further cuts from the label include two productions from mix maestro Nick Manasseh. Anti street violence piece Killing in the Open features the distinctive voiced Dandelion (who guested on Roots Uprising’s standout moment, the Hemsley Morris rocksteady-sampling Serious with Hempolics). Meanwhile UK stalwart Kenny Knots sing-jays over the digi-bass-driven backing to Jah Love Light.
Then there are some nice pieces licensed from other producers. Ipswich lyricist YT’s very personal tribute to the music Saved My Life, on Peckings’ revival of The Maytals’ 54-46 rhythm, rubs shoulders with the France-based honey-singer Rod Taylor and King Sounds’ Sign Up. The latter takes lyrical inspiration from Sylford Walker’s Joe Gibbs recording Jah Golden Pen, in turn a Rasta reworking of an old Christian hymn.
Every track accounts well for itself and follows on nicely from the last. So, if you like tuneful UK roots music and haven’t bought any of these singles, this showcase for a growing and capable label will give you some righteous musical licks.