Album Review: Pressure Busspipe - Heights Of Greatness
by Gardy Stein
"Once I got life to live and air to breathe, I got everything I need!" (Pressure Busspipe)
After seven amazing releases, Delyno Brown aka Pressure Busspipe now presents the world with the infinite number eight, called Heights Of Greatness. And indeed it is from great heights this album speaks to us, reflecting the zenith of its creator's artistry, both in vocal delivery, melodic arrangement and lyrical expression.
While 2019's Rebel With A Cause was an artist-studded effort featuring as much as nine fellow vocalists, the fifteen tracks on the current oeuvre invited but two. During his Instagram listening session, Pressure himself explained that: "On this album, I wanted to feature more producers, that's where really the combination comes in, featuring productions from a wider perspective." And, oh, the perspectives we get to hear!
Even though it's not the opener, let's first take a look at the title track. Heights Of Greatness rolls out on the Mash Down Riddim, reveling in the distinguished sounds of the celebrated Zion I Kings. Producers Andrew "Moon" Bain (Lustre Kings Productions), David Goldfine (Zion High Production) and Laurent "Tippy I" Alfred (I Grade Records) as well as the sadly deceased Andrew "Drew Keys" Stoch put their creative forces together to create a driving, dubby instrumental on which Pressure delivers what he calls a personal homage to Vaughn Benjamin, a praise of His Imperial Majesty and the celestial forces that guide us.
Returning to the guidance of the tracklist, Everything I Need is the perfect entry song (be warned though, it's hard to get past it for all the pull-ups you'll wanna do). Released in July, it has already collected its crowns out there, and both its beautiful, melodious Healer Riddim (produced by UK's Maximum Sound) as well as the singer's infectious, ascending harmonies and the ever-true lyrics make it an instant favourite. Feel free to sing along, loudly!
The remaining pieces split up almost equally between what Pressure calls "Gideon tracks" with conscious, often serious lyrics, and love songs aimed at the female fans and listeners. Among the latter, we find such pearls as the Don Corleone-produced Missing You, Compatible, the sweet Seasons (an in-house production of Busspipe Records by Masai Harris and others), Follow Your Heart and True Love, which taught me that Delly Ranks is not only singer and MC, but producer as well. My personal favourite in this segment is Searching, which, on a guitar-strummed Nyabinghi vibe, introduces the soulful voice of Malica. It was in fact her brother Atiba who suggested the lyrics to Pressure and his team - they immediately saw its potential and Masai composed the riddim around it.
Both All Said And Done and No Man Is An Island are the outcome of a similar collaboration. Taking part in the composition of the former, Kabaka Pyramid joins his colleague on the mic for delivering the important message that "no man stands alone" on the second one, which has an almost marching quality to it and is thus an appropriate transition to the subsequent Blaze.
"What is it is happening?" Trevor Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, George Flloyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Grey, Rashane Brooks, Alton Sterling, Atatiana Jefferson... These are just some of the black victims of police homicide in the USA, all of them being shot or choked to death "fi nuttn", as Busspipe puts it in this rightfully angry track. Far too long, the culprits in these crimes against humanity have gone unpunished, and it took a global outcry for the American judicial system to indeed incarcerate Floyd's killer. Sings Pressure: "We don't want no peace, equal rights and justice forever!" Black lives matter - know their names!
Calmer waters are sailed with the smooth Survivor and Know More, which however picks up speed after a Latin-inspired guitar intro. A fine contribution by French-based Digital Cut!
It's Been A Longtime is another highlight of the album. Evoking memories of the good old Dancehall-days, Leroy "Sugar Roy" Moore created a powerful re-lick of Youth Promotion's Lots Of Signs Riddim. Remember Tenor Saw on this? Remember Anthony B? Well, here is another classic-to-be, condemning the oppression of black people still prevalent worldwide.
Having thus discussed unsettling but urgent topics, the album comes to a hopeful close with Africa Love. Produced by Fabrice "Frenchy" Allegre of Maximum Sound once more, the modern Reggae beat is taken as a springboard by Pressure to sing about his intense desire to visit the motherland: "We've been kept away for too long, all builders, teachers and nurses have to trod along!"
An album full of gems, as the artist himself says, and indeed it's a precious ride through Heights Of Greatness. A host of skilled producers and different thematic foci make it a diverse, multifaceted listening pleasure that's not only food for thought but a treat for your ears as well, ensured by the mastering of Dean Pond, who has accompanied Pressure's solo career from day 1. Give thanks, team Busspipe, for making us hear what needs to be heard in these times!
Pressure Busspipe - Heights Of Greatness
DIGITAL RELEASE [Busspipe Records]
Release date: 08/27/2021
01. Everything I Need
02. Al Said And Done
03. Missing You
04. No Man Is An Island feat. Kabaka Pyramid
08. It's Been A Longtime
10. Follow Your Heart
11. Heights of Greatness
12. Searching feat. Malica
13. True Love
14. Know More
15. Africa Love