It was over 25 years ago when the baritone voice of Luciano (Messenjah) came to prominence in reggae circles with some groundbreaking singles and albums with the late Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell’s Exterminator Records and earlier singles for Sky High (where he was credited as Luciana), Castro Brown’s New Name and Freddie Mcgregor’s Big Ship Records which gave him his first number one single in the UK with ‘Shake It Up Tonight’.
By DJ 745, Irie Jamms Radio Show, WorldAReggae
Fast forward to 2018 and Luciano presents a new 14 track album ‘In The Name Of Love’ on Mountain Peak Records, a new label recently launched by himself and his manager/producer, Anthony Cargill. The results are an excellent blend of roots reggae fused with tinges of gospel, jazz and blues and the musical influences of Dennis Brown, Frankie Paul and Bob Marley –three artists that have clearly influenced the Messenjah in the earlier parts of his career whilst honing his crafts and serving his apprenticeships on sound systems.
The title track and lead single ‘In The Name Of Love’ are showcased twice on the album with a modern reggae and acoustic version. First heard back in 2015 as a teaser for the then ‘forthcoming album’ this song is classic Messenjah territory and has all the hallmarks of optimism and a universal plea to humanity for world peace which we have become accustomed to from Luciano. Top marks so far!
‘Wade in the Water’ was a popular instrumental hit back in 1966 for jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis and has been covered across many musical genres over the years and showcases Luciano’s vocal versatility over a bluesy gospel rhythm track played by Lincoln Thomas (guitar), Michael Fletcher (bass), Chadian Munro (keys), and Oshane Campbell (drums).
I’d take an educated guess that it is Mafia and Fluxy playing the rocksteady rhythm backing one of my personal favourites on the album ‘Hear Oh Lord’ with its beautiful horns section and a plea to the lord. A theme also found on ‘Leave It All Up To You Oh Jah’ where the singer sounds so at ease as he tells a tale of the world today blinded by modern day technology, witchcraft and sorcery. Gone are the principles and teachings of our forefathers as the world becomes immersed in life in the fast lane and materialism.
‘Serve Jah’ is an anthem first laid down at Black Scorpio’s Molynes Road Studio back in 2002/2003 and is revisited with an acoustic guitar as an updated offering of a classic from yesteryear- if anything, the acoustic arrangement of this update cement the powerful lyrics and message more clearly.
Alongside George Nooks, Luciano is one artist that always gives me goose pimples whenever I hear him sing over a cover of a Dennis Brown song and that same feeling comes across on his version of ‘The Prophet Rides Again’ over a stripped down yet effective rhythm. I’m certain that there has also been talk of a Luciano sings Dennis Brown album to look out for in the future!
‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Better Place’ are two of my favourites and on looking through the tracklisting don’t be fooled (almost like me!) in thinking that with a title like ‘Ooh La La’ it may simply be a filler track with no serious meaning or message. Oh how wrong was I and I can say that the rhythm combined with the message makes this a strong contender alongside ‘Hear Oh Lord’ as one of my favourite songs on the album.
It’s an update of Barry Brown’s ‘Fittest of the Fittest’ that underpins ‘Bondage’ and will be a sure-fire anthem across sound systems with its ‘sufferah’ lyrics. I would have loved to have had an extended discomix on this one which would have been particularly effective with its strong horns section.
Speaking of sound systems, ‘Haul and Pull Up’ has been championed by the top sounds after it was released on a 7” single last year. Recorded at the home of Stingray Records -Big House Studios in North West London and produced by David Larwood for his ‘DigiVybz’ label with Luciano calling for a ‘haul and pull up’ of the system.
With other great singles including ‘Stand Up For Jah’, ‘Don’t Walk Away’ and a remix of ‘Jah Send Your Blessings’, overall this is a solid set from the Messenjah and a powerful introduction to Mountain Peak Records which will set the standard for future productions. The additional elements of jazz and blues are a worthy addition to the underlying reggae backbone to the album and fans will not be disappointed.
14 Songs, 55 Minutes
Released: May 25, 2018
℗ 2018 Mountain Peak Records