© 2013 Womad Ltd
Company Reg. No. 2734599
Place of registration : England
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From United Kingdom
In Britain and Jamaica, sound systems are the lifeblood of reggae, a proving ground for new talent, a place to air fresh tunes and styles and gauge the public reaction. In the UK, Saxon, Coxsone, Jah Shaka and the Ariwa sound have continued through all the changing years of fashion in reggae. Tippa Irie was working with a number of Brixton sounds in 1978, when he was only 13 years old. The timing of his musical apprenticeship was ripe. British sounds were on the verge of producing MCs whose "chatty" style was much more than an imitation of Jamaican originals. This style combined West Indian patois and British Black street language - and Tippa Irie is one of its masters.Tippa made a 1983 live album with Saxon (the system which also had Papa Levi, Maxi Priest and Smiley Culture passing through its ranks) and his facility with words and cool rhythms led to his own singles - 'Sleng Teng Finish Already' and 'Telephone' - rising high in the UK reggae charts.'Hello Darling' secured a national Top 40 place (although Tippa's highest UK chart entry was with Arsenal FC!). However, mainstream success led to Tippa coming under a lot of pressure to change his sound, a move which spurred him to return to his roots. His third album, 1988's 'JA to UK MC Clash', recorded with Jamaica's Papa San, was a tremendous showcase for the talents of two fine ragga MCs. Tippa's position as one of the biggest ragga and dancehall successes in the UK was consolidated by his 1989 album, 'Original Ragamuffin'. Since the late eighties, the albums have kept on coming. A showcase with the Ariwa Posse ('Rebel on the Roots Corner'), a collaboration with Pete Spence ('Sapphire and Steel') - it's all quality stuff, as the recent 'Best of Mr Versatile' confirms. But one thing's sure - if you want the true best of the original UK ragamuffin, see him on stage.