Album Review: Macka B – Never Played a 45
The discography on his website lists 17 studio albums so far, but chances are that not even Macka B himself can count the number of albums he has released during his career that he had started in the early 1980s. Once one of the UK’s most influential singjay, he has spent much of his career collaborating with Mad Professor, and has done much to help implanting reggae culture in Germany, through extensive touring over decades, for instance.
Never Played a 45 is thus at least his 18th studio album. It takes Macka B back to the 1970s, when he set off in the reggae scene as a sound boy. To get that golden feel of those days of yore, he teamed up with Chris and Duke Peckings, the sons of George “Peckings” Price, who once helped Jamaican reggae to reach London. Their access to the catalogues of Studio One, Treasure Isle and Bunny Lee meant that Macka B could pick his choices from a huge selection of foundation riddims.
Known for his strictly conscious lyrics, the “Big Rastaman” spreads his message of ital livity over 15 tracks. He praises His Imperial Majesty on Hail H.I.M., denounces Babylon for stealing Mama Africa’s riches in Big Thief, and recounts his experiences as a sound boy back in the days of his youth in Soundman.
Previously released on vinyl only, Macka B praises the warm sound that only vinyl offers on Never Played a 45. His recommendation, however, is not to return to vinyl, he rather suggest to use vinyl besides modern technology, whose advantages he also acknowledges. Too Much Chicken is Macka B par excellence: with a good sense of humor and witty lyrics, he describes how he tries to convince his friends to stop eating chicken and finally go entirely vegetarian.
Also featured on Never Played a 45 is Medical Marijuana Card, a similarly funny song whose animated video clip has received 300,000+ views on YouTube so far. While Macka B’s topics haven’t changed much over the course of his career, Rasta Tell Dem sums up a few things he had pointed out earlier in his career that are common sense today.
On Fire, he goes back to praising Jah. In African, he claims his African heritage as a member of the continent’s diaspora. Complaining promotes positivity and gratitude for live. Beautiful Naturally tells a woman that she’s beautiful without getting her body “fixed” according to standards set by the advertising industry. One Life posthumously features the one and only Phyllis Dillon. She adds so much to the tune that one would prefer Macka B to let her do the job alone.
Iternal Love points out that “love doesn’t always have to be physical”. Another One Gone decries violence against the youths and asks to do more against it than to “just pray”. The final Their God speaks out against religious hypocrisy.
Never Played a 45 is a nice opportunity to rediscover Macka B, who went a bit forgotten in recent years. He can still pull it off, mind you.
Macka B - Never Played A 45
DIGITAL RELEASE / CD [Peckings]
Release date: 10/09/2015
01. Hail HIM
02. Big Thief
04. Never Played A 45
05. Too Much Chicken
06. Medical Marijuana Card
07. Rasta Tell Dem
11. Beautiful Naturally
12. One Life feat. Phyllis Dillon
13. Iternal Love
14. Another One Gone
15. Their God