10 September 2021
ALBOROSIE * ANTHONY B * BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS * BERES HAMMOND * CHRONIXX * DUB INC * EMETERIANS * FAT FREDDY´S DROP * GROUNDATION * HORACE ANDY * INNER CIRCLE * JAH 9 * JUNIOR KELLY * KABAKA PYRAMID * LUCIANO * MACACO * MARCIA GRIFFITHS * MAX ROMEO * MELLOW MOOD * MISTY IN ROOTS * PABLO MOSES * PROTOJE * ROMAIN VIRGO * STEEL PULSE * TANYA STEPHENS * THIRD WORLD * TURBULENCE
One of Europe’s longest-running reggae festivals, with 27 years of history, has grown exponentially since it arrived in Benicàssim in 2010 and with the growth came an increased commitment to musical quality, heightening its exceptional status. To celebrate the festival’s tenure in Spain, Rototom Sunsplash: Live From Benicàssim collects 27 outstanding performances by some of the greatest acts to ever grace the main stage, the artists hailing from Jamaica, the UK, USA, Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand and elsewhere, emphasising the festival’s international composition.
Taking the form of three red, green, and gold vinyl LPs, limited to 1,500 numbered copies, and a double CD package, as well as streaming and download formats, the album is drawn from the highlights of the main stage performances of Europe’s largest reggae festival, recorded between 2012-2019, nearly covering the entire decade since the festival moved to Benicàssim, compiled by noted journalist David Katz, author of People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae. This thematic compilation of over two hours duration is comprised of socially conscious works performed with gusto by some of the biggest names in reggae and beyond, playing before a massive, diverse crowd of devoted music lovers..
Disc One begins with the icons of roots reggae that have always formed a central presence on the main stage as the biggest draw for Rototom’s core audience. British reggae stalwarts Steel Pulse and Misty In Roots contrast with Jamaican heavyweights such as Horace Andy, Max Romeo, and the poetic Pablo Moses, while stadium giants Third World and Inner Circle aim for the populist vein, with ‘First Lady of Reggae’ Marcia Griffiths dipping into her ska origins; there are also fine performances by Rasta Renaissance pioneer, Luciano, and reggae’s present saviour, Chronixx, to remind that roots reggae continues to evolve.
Disc Two shifts to some of the biggest names of the dancehall era, including the evergreen Beres Hammond, rebel upstart Anthony B, the lovelorn humour of Junior Kelly and dancehall diva Tanya Stephens, as well as a rough-and-ready performance from Bobodread sing-jay, Turbulence.
Moving into the territory of the ‘Reggae Revival’ that has transformed the Jamaican soundscape during the last fifteen years, we have the hip-hop/nu roots of Kabaka Pyramid, up-tempo social commentary from Protoje and Romain Virgo, the ‘jazz on dub’ hybrid of songstress Jah9, as well as the bridge-building styles of Alborosie, the Italian reggae star who has made Jamaica his home for the last twenty years, and who has a longstanding affiliation with Rototom.
Shifting to the international sphere on Disc Three, we get the masterful reggae/rock/jazz blend of New Zealand’s mighty Fat Freddy’s Drop, the environmental reggae activism of California’s Groundation, peaceful vibes from Italy’s Mellow Mood and a harmonic ode to art, nature and music from Spain’s Emeterians, plus a heady infusion of ragga, rap, rock, and North African elements from France’s Dub Inc, as well as an enthralling mix of Catalan, African and South American genres from the Barcelona-based Macaco, before Californian blues-rocker Ben Harper closes things off with a super-emotive take on reggae and Latin rock with the help of his Innocent Criminals.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Rototom Sunsplash was unable to take place in 2020 and 2021. Through the 27 blasts of musical dynamism contained on the set, Rototom Sunsplash: Live From Benicàssim is essential listening for all fans of reggae and its pervasive influence. Those who already know the festival will delight in the memories of these exemplary performances, and those who have not yet experienced it may listen and wonder at the audio dynamite presented here. Recorded on state-of-the-art audio equipment by a dedicated team of music lovers and mixed with care by the gifted engineer Jim Fox at his Lion and Fox studios in Washington DC, Rototom Sunsplash: Live From Benicàssim captures the best of the festival’s last eight editions, rendering an awesome listening experience.
- STEEL PULSE: SOLDIERS
- PABLO MOSES: A SONG
- HORACE ANDY: MONEY MONEY
- MAX ROMEO: ONE STEP FORWARD
- MARCIA GRIFFITHS: FEEL LIKE JUMPING/5446
- MISTY IN ROOTS: TRUE RASTA MAN
- THIRD WORLD: REGGAE AMBASSADOR
- INNER CIRCLE: WE A ROCKERS
- LUCIANO: SERVE JAH
- CHRONIXX: ROOTS AND CHALICE*
- BERES HAMMOND: PUTTING UP RESISTANCE
- ANTHONY B: RAID THE BARN
- TURBULENCE: I WILL SURVIVE
- JUNIOR KELLY: LOVE SO NICE
- TANYA STEPHENS: IT´S A PITY/NIGHT NURSE
- ALBOROSIE: POLICE
- KABAKA PYRAMID: CAN´T BREATHE
- ROMAIN VIRGO: MUSSI MAD
- PROTOJE: WHO KNOWS*
- JAH9: NEW NAME
- FAT FREDDY´S DROP: BLACKBIRD
- GROUNDATION: FOSSIL FUELS
- MELLOW MOOD: SOUND OF A WAR
- EMETERIANS: SOUND DI ALARM
- DUB INC: RUDE BOY
- MACACO: CON LA MANO LEVANTÁ
- BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS: WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS
*only available on the physical editions