Review: Morgan Heritage – Strictly Roots

By Liam Monaghan

A house hold name in reggae music is back with another album. No one can criticise the work ethic of quintet Morgan Heritage, just look at the relentless touring across the globe and studio work to answer that statement, but we welcome Strictly Roots to the discography.

Importantly the album is being released independently through their own label CTBC (Cool To Be Conscious) Music Group on the 15th June; in addition Una Morgan says the album is ‘an additional example for others to follow’. The album has already reached no.1 on the US iTunes Reggae Chart and features a wide variety of guest performers including platinum selling dancehall phenomenon Shaggy and also J Boog, Eric Rachmany of Rebelution, Bobby Lee, Soja & Chronixx.

Proving Reggae is global, the heritage have reached out to Radio 1’s Dancehall King Seani B who co produced ‘Perform and Done’ which was released in the UK on the 25th May. The track has already featured on the Billboard charts and is making moves throughout the world reggae market.

Heritage is made up of Una, Gramps, Luke, Mr Mojo and Peetah who are the children of Reggae legend Denroy Morgan. Worth a mention is the son of Gramps, Jemere, who’s record ‘Neighborhood Girl’ was a hit! Having the pleasure of meeting Morgan Heritage in Sheffield last year, the group could not be more welcome and polite and keen to discuss works and let their voice heard. After you’ve finished reading this, you should head over to Facebook and check out Gramps Morgans farming project. Morgan Heritage recently teamed up with Oxfam America to right the wrongs of poverty. You can expect to see the Heritage perform in Europe later on in the year.

Strictly Roots

Strictly Roots
Drum roll and a big horn line to kick off this album, which excites me! Anybody who’s a fan of big horn lines and brass, this will get the blood warm. A roots feel of old school production is clear in this record, big drums and a wandering bass line whilst Peetah delivers his chants accompany each other whilst Gramps backs up with his distinguish voice. A dubbing of this record would also go along way with its weighty bassline, a great way to start the album. The bar has been set.

Child Of Jah Feat Chronixx
Fully aware of this record for some time, Reggae Roots & Bass has aired this several times over the last month. The song follows the roots and stripped back approach as the first record but the hook from Reggae sensation Chronixx undoubtedly will be stuck in your head for the next few days. A very simple song but catchy and fun, different from the normal Heritage we’ve heard before. Expect many waving arms and chanting at Heritage concerts with this record. One of my personal favourite Reggae records of 2015.

Light It up Feat Jo Mersa Marley
Guitar strums a steady riddim whilst Mersa welcomes us into the record with mentions of rasta. Big drums ring that will induce a head bop or a body sway. Interestingly you would probably bet your car/house that the musical direction this track takes from the chorus wouldn’t be Dubstep…it does. Harmonies ring out in an angelic fashion to raise the tension and anticipation and the drop induced a wall shaking, car sub woofer exploding bass line. You could easily mistake Skrillex for producing this track after “Make It Bun Them’. Light It Up is a Reggae ‘Ballad’ inducing a couple of hairs to stand on the back of your neck, the range of music influences in this record keep things fresh throughout fighting away the boredom. 3rd track in and all is well so far.

Rise And Fall
Back to similar sounds familiar to the opening of the album with a roots drum arrangement and bass line. The lyrics are the main focus in this record. Positive messages throughout and the standard Gramps backup vocals accompany the voice of Peetah. Following Light It Up, it Is a change a pace but overall a nice easy listening record.

Perform and Done
Seani B on the co production on this record and it is evident. Being a DJ/producer in London is effectively like being a big sponge, you suck in so many influences such as grime, jungle, dancehall and Ska. The change from the steady roots feel to a more upbeat and boisterous feel with monotone style vocal delivery from Gramps Morgan, im pretty sure Seani would have approved as the Dancehall King of Radio One. Again, a nice overall chilled record with a great hook. Gramps delivery makes the record shine through.

About half way through the album and we press play on ‘So Amazing feat J Boog, Jemere Morgan & Gil Sharone’
Great use of keys on this record and an upbeat ska stroke of the guitars that you’d expect to hear if you were listening to Reel Big Fish! Admittedly never hearing of J Boog & Gil Sharone I was listening to this record with an open mind, the vocals work with nice positive lyrics about Love “Your love so amazing, its driving me crazy, I heart ya, everyday I want you”. Nothing too much different from other records here, but the introduction of Jemere and other guests was nice to hear different voices and vocals to change things.

After half way through the album, il let you decide for yourself. The album projects a big, explosive start and then an exciting fusion record with Joe Mersa Marley however, the fusion stops there. Although a good solid album, you wouldn’t expect any less! From a personal point of view the album could have been far more daring. The collaborations worked well and injected spirit and life and gave new vibes to the album. The live performances of Heritage are brilliant with lots of interaction and incredible music! If they are in your area check them out, check this album also for some good quality roots Reggae music.

Currently Mojo, Peetah and Gramps Morgan are doing a promotion Tour through Europe. Catch them in a city near you!