After a rash of jailhouse hits, countless live performances of his songs by other artists, and plenty of recorded references to his incarceration, Siccature Alcock, aka Jah Cure, is finally free. Following seven years behind bars, it's big news, especially given the hotly disputed 14-year sentence the singer was handed for robbery, rape, and gun charges.
Even though the Jamaican legal system is often less than reliable-- and despite the fact that his case has come under considerable doubt-- it's often conflicting to remember that the man responsible for some of the most touching one-drop anthems of the past few years has been convicted of such shocking crimes. Still, whatever the truth may be, there's no denying that languishing "behind those prison walls" has lent a particular emotional quality to his work. Rather than being filled with pent-up anger, his conscious material is thoughtful and contemplative and his love songs no longer simply about love; there's genuine longing in that voice, and a real feeling of hope and freedom being found in music.
Last weekend he warmed up for the forthcoming Curefest (October 12; St Mary's James Bond Beach) with his first international show in what seems like a lifetime, at the Sundance Reggae Festival in Eindhoven, Holland. Complete with the legendary Dean Fraser leading the band, it has been reported that Cure delivered a storming set, the BBC's Ray Paul going so far as to say: "Jah Cure's debut performance since his much publicised release from prison promised much, and for once the hype delivered on all fronts. He seemed completely at home on stage and was greeted by a rapturous reception from the European crowd. Cure's vocals were on point throughout, and his fans around the world have a treat in store when he visits their region." With global appearances rumoured but not as yet confirmed, the wait shouldn't be too long, wherever you are.
Now, with the summer more or less completely over in a grey, drizzly London town, the Black Chiney crew offer a very apt remix of Rihanna's "Umbrella". Sure, you've probably heard the original quite enough by now, but a complete rework of the beat in a classic-style digital style and the addition of guest verses from Vybz Kartel give the tune extra legs. While not exactly groundbreaking it's a lot of fun and guaranteed to get parties moving. Meanwhile, the Miami sound have dropped three more versions of the Doctor Bird riddim-- home to Collie Buddz' "Tomorrow's Another Day"-- by Wayne Wonder, Nina Sky & Notch, and TOK. All stand up well, but the Albino sisters walk away with it, thanks to singalong pop gem "Loving You" [all Black Chiney/U.S./7"].
It's also good to hear Buju Banton on continued form, dropping a killer version of King Jammy's son John John's brand new Big Up riddim [John John/JA/7"]. "Knock Knock" sees the deejay T rearing up the thunderous, rigid beat in fine, gravel-throated style. Worth looking out for, too, are Capleton bringing the fire with "Safe Travel" and the recently resurgent (if not rehabilitated) Ninjaman on "Fool Dem Talking".
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