Best of 2023 – Goldfinger

Goldfinger hosts Reggae Vibrations Saturday from 12-2pm (eastern).
Heavyweight Sounds of 2023.


Loving Paupers “Ladders” (Easy Star)
Most eagerly awaited release of the year!
Don Letts said it best: “Is it roots reggae? Is it lovers rock? No, it’s The Loving Paupers.”
Singer Kelli DiFilipo’s breathy, personal style soars above a rock-solid rhythm unit steeped in classic rocksteady and dub… originating just up the road in the DC area.

Favorite track,  “Beauty/Pain”

Don Letts “Outta Sync” (Cigale Entertainment)
This would be the second-most anticipated album… teased by the release of the title track, last year.
If you ever saw the cover to the Clash’s “Black Market Clash”, (or watched “Rude Boy”) you’ve seen Don Letts. And, if you’ve ever listened to Big Audio Dynamite, you’ve heard him.
Excellent collection of collaborations, crucial tunes and messages.
It’s amazing that it’s taken so long for him to release his own songs… he’s certainly forwarded the careers of many others.

Johnny Osbourne “Right Right Time” (Baco Records)
A talent that has been at the forefront of roots reggae since creation, at Studio One (“Truths And Rights”).
His voice is as vibrant and conscious now as it was, then.
All Killer, No Filler!

Victor Axelrod productions for Daptone Records “If You Ask Me To”
I got blindsided by this one… right at the end of the year, without fanfare!
Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod’s résumé is mind-boggling… as a keyboardist/performer (Sharon Jones, Amy Winehouse, Easy Star All-Stars), and as a producer.
This collection, with star-power from the late Sugar Minott, Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, sounds like it was recorded during the heyday of 60s rocksteady.
But, for me, the standout performances come from crooners Bob & Gene (originally from Detroit soul roots)… and, the band: featuring members of the late, lamented Frightnrs.

Burning Spear “No Destroyer”  (Burning Sounds)
Forever in the Pantheon of roots reggae,  this collection finds Winston Rodney yet on top… with an album that has finally seen the light of day.

Samory-I “Strength” (Easy Star)
One of the best new voices to emerge in recent years.
Along with Protoje, Chronixx, Hempress Sativa, Kabaka Pyramid and others, Samory-I brings the focus of crucial roots music back to Jamaica.

Derrick Morgan “Development”  (Sutro)
Here’s another album that languished un-released in some storeroom until recently.
Morgan has been part of the Music since the origins of Ska and rocksteady, acknowledged as an iconic figure (and sparring partner with Prince Buster!).
Originally recorded in 1972, several tracks have found their way to compilations, over the years… here they are on glorious vinyl, rounded out with a solid set from when rocksteady was transitioning to roots reggae. He’s still with us!
“Send A Little Rain”:

Chuck Foster “Dub Journey”  (Catch Me Time)
Chuck Foster is a fellow selector, longtime host of “Reggae Central” at KPFK (Sundays, 2-5PM Pacific)
He has a whole catalog of albums… his most recent project is authentic, as always!

Easy Star All-Stars “Ziggy Stardub”  (Easy Star)
With “Dub Side Of The Moon”, “Thrillah”, “RadioDread” and other mega-tributes under their belt, Easy Star All-Stars triumphs yet again with the proto-Glam Bowie masterpiece… rootically!

(with David Hinds and Selwyn Brown of Steel Pulse):

Creation Rebel “Hostile Environment”  (On-U Sound)
Longtime house band for On-U Sound and Prince Far I delivers a crucial long-player.

Hempress Sativa “Charka”  (conquering lion)
The second album from the uncompromising roots warrior.

various artists “Rude Girls To The Front” (Rude Girl Revue)
Based in the DC metro area and up the coast, the Rude Girl Revue, from every band represented on the album mash up some amazing ska/rocksteady… and took the recent SuperNova Ska Festival by storm.

Not from the album… but here, they shine:

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