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Lloyd Brown - LB50

Lloyd Brown - LB50

Lloyd Brown - LB50

By on - Photos by Lee Abel - Comment

Lloyd’s latest has a new lease of life.

Sampler

lloyd brown lb50If you really love good reggae music you will know that Lloyd Brown releases one - and sometimes two - albums every 12 months which never fail to be among the year’s best. In 2013 the superlative singer-songwriter-producer issued New Veteran on his own Riddimworks digital imprint and then Rootical with Florida’s Zion High Productions.

New Veteran was a nice record that many artists would wish to have made. It was slightly overshadowed, however, by Rootical with its all roots content and rhythms from the mighty Zion I Kings three-the-hardway production team. So it’s a pleasure to report that Lloyd’s follow up on Riddimworks, titled LB50 in honour of his 50th birthday, is a real banger – one of those knock-it-out-of-the-park efforts that surpasses his high standards (as say Rootical, Said and Done, Silver and Cornerstone have in recent years). 

A stickler for perfection and a sufferer of no fools, Lloyd Brown often has scores to settle in his lyrics. Rootical’s topics of betrayal and iniquity were awash with a spiritual calm. Parts of LB50 are tonally aggressive with sharp beats, defiant messages and rockstone deejay combinations joining Lloyd’s soulful voice and celestial self-harmonies. 

Opener Fiddy featuring Sarjant D offers “another headshot from yours truly”. My Sound is a swaggering, spring-heeled clash tune featuring a beat co-programmed by Bitty McLean and a “foreword” from David Rodigan – showing how respected Lloyd is by the industry. 

lloyd brown

Yet we also receive plenty of sweetness, love and light. All About You is classic lovers rock sampling the Mighty Diamond's Country Living. Lloyd has joined Sizzla, Ziggi Recado and others in writing a reggae Earthday song (the best since Linval Cooper’s Happy Birthday) later reprised as bonus track Happy New Year (so reggae DJs on January 1st can take a break from SPM Singers Auld Lang Zyne). 

As ever Lloyd has some quality guests – but two are milestones. One is a duet beyond the grave with his hero Marvin Gaye on a remix of his Ain’t That Peculiar (in the form of a squabble between the singers over a girl refereed by deejay Danny Sprang). The other is a lion’s share performance by Brown’s son Courtney on the timeless Faith – his voice sounding uniquely himself, a little like UB40’s Ali Campbell and unmistakably like his dad’s at the same time. 

Although Lloyd Brown chafes against being pigeonholed as a UK artist – there is a distinctiveness to his cultural references. Whether cheese based similes or invocations of Lawrence of Arabia and the film Barbarella - you always get something different lyrically from Lloyd.

The rhythms are co-built with a range of producers including Joe Fraser’s Lloyd Campbell, Mike Brooks and Zion I Kings (who contribute the backing to Get It Right as recently used on Pressure’s The Sound). A special shout is needed for Mikey Blak’s You Just Don’t Get It – best described as the bastard child of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Ken Boothe’s Silver Words

There are Lloyd Brown albums and there are Lloyd Brown albums. All the usual ingredients are here. The sequenced drums with live guitar, keys and Patrick Tenyue’s trumpet that give a lesson in sounding great on a budget. The creative covers (Aswad’s 1982 roots romance Your Recipe recast as hip-hop-soul-ballad). The loops of vintage rocksteady remade. And yet – somehow LB50 does all these things even better than usual. Freshened and emboldened by the artistic success of Rootical, Lloyd’s latest has a new lease of life. 

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