Freddie McGregor ADD

Review

Album Review: Freddie McGregor - Di Captain

01/29/2013

by Justine Amadori Ketola

Album Review: Freddie McGregor - Di Captain

Freddie McGregor returns with his first album in seven years. Developed through his Big Ship label which he has led as "di captain" for over twenty years, he took the necessary time to record rich percussion, harmonies and engage some of reggae's top producers and session musicians including Dalton Browne, Stingray,  Mafia & Fluxy, Steely & Clevie, Dean Fraser, Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie, and former Heptones frontman and solo performer Leroy Sibbles who is also a skilled bass player. All of this is a complement to his natural, agile, soulful vocal ability that has set the standard for over four decades, from the days when Freddie got his start coming to Studio One in Kingston from Clarendon as a 7 year old!

There are originals dealing with issues like progressive development and social justice on Move Up Jamaica, More Love in the Ghetto and My Story and a common theme for reputedly romantic McGregor on "Love I Believe In". The most explosive lyrics and message can be found on Bag A Hype which addresses the shift from quality programming at Jamaican radio toward more dangerous ethics of younger programmers who promote questionable lyrical material at radio  and engage in the practice of 'pay for play. As Bag A Hype lyrics explain, "Some a dem youths here dem naw live right, bright up themselves in a big man's sight. Dem no know daytime different from night, walk round every day with a big bag a hype. Talk to dem there so, respect due, them no have nutting' for me and you. Dem hyping up the place cause its pure curfew, make the Babylon dem a pressure me and you." Mr. McGregor makes an important link to how hyping certain music can present mixed messages to the authorities and this causes imaging problems for the people, "out a road."

The philosophy Freddie McGregor employs when doing an album is that he likes to engage a "brain trust" of people to write or contribute to the songs, a tendency from Studio One era when there was a genuine sense of camaraderie and collaboration with many giving their opinion in the studio setting. Here on Di Captain, he has chosen several songs to cover which is a common practice in reggae as the artists are exposed to music from around the globe from an early age and incorporate this into their creative expression. As Freddie explains it, "These songs were very specially chosen. We took the greatest pains in making sure these would be classic songs that will last for a long time. I chose songs like 'Equal Rights' (Heptones) because I love the message and because the youth need to hear it. We made a special effort to keep it as grassroots as we can."

The Di Captain release also features guest vocals from modern reggae artists like Etana on Let It Be Me which is a love song that many pop artists since the 1950's have recorded. Freddie remakes one his own classics from 1979 - Bobby Bobbylon as Standing Strong with the UK's Gappy Ranks taking it to another level of greatness with his commanding chant style.

Additional covers from Jeffrey Osborne's, Love Ballad to Luther Vandross' House Is Not A Home remind us of Freddie's soul roots once as a lead singer of the reggae-soul band that featured Carlton "Santa" Davis, Fully Fullwood, Earl "Chinna" Smith,  Tony Chin and Keith Sterling as The Soul Syndicate in the 1970-80's. Classic reggae covers like Mighty DiamondsAfrica and Bob Marley & The Wailers' Rainbow Country take his musicologist style of production to the highest regions, showcasing this wealth of talent that Freddie can easily access, giving new life to more obscure songs.

Freddie McGregor is one of the greatest artists to see in the live setting, and this shows in the Di Captain production values, where live musicians and top programmers and producers, including his own son, Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor have adhered to Freddie's clear goals to preserve the music standards and present  a set of songs that will translate well in live performance and complement what is already an accomplished catalog of songs.


Release details

Freddie McGregor - Di Captain

Freddie McGregor - Di Captain

DIGITAL RELEASE / CD [VP Records]

Release date: 01/25/2013

Tracks

01. Intro Jenny Jenny
02. Move Up Jamaica
03. You Won’t See Me
04. Bag A Hype
05. Africa
06. More Love In The Ghetto
07. Love I Believe In
08. Rainbow Country
09. Standing Strong
10. Love Ballad
11. There You Go
12. My Story
13. Let It Be Me
14. Equal Rights
15. A House Is Not A Home
16. Jah Love Di Whole A Wi




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