Inna de Yard
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Inna de Yard

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Après avoir fait planer le printemps de Bourges vendredi soir, "les maîtres du reggae", comme ils s'autoproclament à raison, diffuseront leurs bonnes vibrations ce weekend sur Paris. Ces maîtres, ce sont le guitariste Earl "Chinna" Smith, compagnon de route et de studio de Burning Spear, les chanteurs Viceroys quarante ans de carrière au compteur, Cedric "Congo" Myton, la voix falsetto du trio des Congos, et Linval Thompson, le partenaire vocal du producteur Bunny Lee (et autres grands musiciens jamaïcains).
Depuis 5 ans à l'initiative du label français Makasound tous se retrouvent régulièrement à Kingston, dans la cour de Halfway Tree, pour enregistrer en acoustique (Unplugged) leurs morceaux préférés comme une version reggae de Mission Impossible. La batterie est installée sous la véranda, Kiddus I s'installe aux percussions, Chinna à la guitare, et roule man "Jamaïca no problem", comme le dit si bien la devise du pays.
En cinq ans, les compères ont enregistré une dizaine de disques sous la série Inna de Yard ("dans la cour"), dont un certain public français, qui apprécie le reggae roots plus que n'importe quel autre forme du genre, se délecte.
Inna de Yard a en tout cas fait école dans l'hexagone, puisque de jeunes artistes comme Taïro ou Mr Toma reprennent la formule à leur compte en chanson. - Libération 26/04/09


Ambiance jamaïcaine au Phénix hier soir. Les reggae men de la première heure comme la nouvelle génération étaient réunis sous le chapiteau. Ce sont d'ailleurs les gloires historiques du reggae réunies sous le nom Inna de Yard All Stars qui ont entamé cette soirée. Le public s'est laissé porter par le rythme lent et chaloupé du groupe, gloire historique du reggae, aidé par les djembés, les maracas et la guitare.
A l'odeur de l'encens s'en mêle une autre tout aussi entêtante... Mais un concert de reggae sans effluves champêtres, ce serait comme un ti punch sans rhum.

Laurent Gru - La nouvelle république, 25 avril 2009


Attention, légende ! Les reggae men des Inna DeYard All Stars ne sont pas seulement vieux et plein de dread locks. Ils sont aussi mythiques! Et garants d’une tradition ancestrale d’un reggae traditionnel.
Au départ, Inna de Yard est un label, de grande qualité, qui propose des chansons telles qu'elles sont nées, en toute simplicité, dans les yards, les back yards même (les arrières cours). Une voix, une guitare, parfois des percussions Nyahbingy, parfois des chœurs, au gré des vibrations. Un beau retour aux racines du reggae, tel qu'il a jailli des yards ...

Sur scène, on retrouve donc toute l'écurie Inna de Yard : Linval Thompson, Kiddus I, The Viceroys, The Mighty Diamonds, Derajah, Cedric “Congo” Myton, Matthew McAnuff, Bo-Pee, Kush McAnuff... Et c’est bien sûr le grand Earl « Chinna » Smith qui mène la danse. Mais avec beaucoup de douceur et d’humilité. En effet, il n’est pas question de star ici.

Quand les onze artistes arrivent sur scène, ils sont tous habillés pareil : survèts blancs adidas et écharpes aux couleurs de la Jamaïque, bonnets de la même couleur pour certains, grosses locks qui pendent pour d’autres. Ils arrivent, tout joyeux, sur une version reggae de « By The Rivers Of Babylon » en acoustique. Car l’acoustique, c’est un peu leur marque de fabrique. Autant que leur culture de l’interchangeable.

Le groupe joue en effet aux chaises musicales pendant toute l’heure du concert. Chacun quitte les percus, se lève et vient prendre place derrière le micro pour son petit instant de gloire. Leur style passe du morceau super énergique et dansant à la véritable ballade, flirtant presque avec la soul. Les âges changent aussi énormément, du très jeune au papy aux locks grisonnantes.

Côté titres, pas de tubes. Ce n’est pas vraiment le genre de la maison. On est plutôt dans le terroir et l’authentique. Mais on retrouve tout de même des morceaux qu’on connait, qu’on a l’impression d’avoir déjà entendu quelque part. Comme ce guitare-voix No Salvation Until ou ce joyeux et communicatif Ya Ho.

Le public, pas très nombreux, se met ainsi doucement en jambes, oscille doucement la tête, pas encore les jambes et allume, concert reggae oblige, de gros buzzs pour former un épais brouillard odorant.
Good Vibes !

Adeline Lajoinie
- Waxx-music.com


Les stars reggae roots de cette première journée avec une pléiade de légendes jamaïcaines accompagnées par la nouvelle génération.

Le show commence par un chant rasta « The Lion of Judah shall break every chain » avec Derajah et Linval Thompson au lead vocal. On aperçoit derrière Matthew McAnuff, Cedric Myton, Kiddus I et Alphonso Craig aux percus, Kush McAnuff à la batterie et Chinna Smith à la guitare. Les Viceroys eux, ne sont pas là, mais le show va être terrible. Il part pourtant doucement avec Chinna qui débute par deux morceaux dont le ganja hit « Mariwanna ».

C’est au tour de Derajah de débarquer pour réveiller tout le monde avec ses 2 titres « Well Ah Oh » et « Who Yeah Yah ». Le jeune bobo fournit une très belle prestation avec sa voix rauque caractéristique. Il confirme que la relève est assurée, la nouvelle génération est bien là.

On reste avec la nouvelle génération, et Matthew McAnuff qui n’interprétera qu’un titre, mais quel titre, son tube « Be Careful ». Le public s’enflamme pour ce morceau et le titre reçoit un pull up. Matthew a beaucoup progressé sur scène. Il a beaucoup plus d’assurance, il ne ressemble plus au jeune timide qu’on a pu voir aux premiers shows Inna De Yard. Il descend même de scène pour saluer ses fans de près. Il fait chanter un spectateur. L’assistance reprend les paroles par cœur. ENORME !

Ensuite, c’est le prince du rub a dub, Linval Thompson qui vient nous chanter 3 titres dont « Dreader than Dread » et « Jah guiding star ». Il a changé de morceaux par rapport au show du Cabaret Sauvage au mois d’avril. « Dreader tha dread » se finit en dub (version acoustique bien sûr) et le public réagit bien à cet effet surprenant.

Puis, c’est Cedric Myton qui clôture ce concert avec 2 titres : « Fisherman » et « Forever young ». « Fisherman » reçoit une très grosse ovation et est entonné par le public qui connaît bien les paroles. A son habitude, Cedric danse beaucoup, fait des mouvements très gracieux et pousse sa voix dans des hauteurs inimaginables.

Le show n’aura duré qu’une petite heure. On en aurait bien repris une heure de plus, mais c’est le principe du mode festival.
- Reggae.fr 13/10/09


"Inna The Yard" is a powerful, intense, focused and meditative collection of strictly acoustic music -- no digi beats, not even any electric guitars/bass. It's all binghi driven tunes, but with a conventional hard rimshot Rockers drum pattern added on a few of the tracks played by Ras Kush, Winston MacAnuff's son. On the Binghi drums, playing hard and tight, are Ras Michael's son, Ken Bob, Jah Youth and Emmanuel I.

Kiddus I's vocal style may surprise some roots followers -- His style is far more in the vein of classic soul / jazz singers than JA roots chanters. Terry Callier and Bill Withers come to mind, and at points, he sounds like a more reflective , introverted Gil Scott Heron. He also sounds a little similar to Willie Williams from his Coxsonne period, and at times, surprisingly, there is even an edge of "psychedelic folk" to some of the compositions.

Chinna approaches his guitar like a slowed down, sparser Richie Havens, or perhaps at times, even sounding like Ali Farka Toure. This is by no means the conventional Chinna style we have got used to over the years from his work with Pablo's Rockers label or Bertam Brown's Freedom Sounds, though he did sometimes play in this sparse acoustic style for Pablo on albums like "Blowing With the Wind" (See tracks like "Drums to the King" for a style very similar to this album ).

The DVD is powerful -- For those of you into Binghi music, this really is as good as it gets -- a live session in Chinna's yard! What more could you ask for?

The DVD also features an in depth interview with Kiddus I discussing his life and spiritual reflections.

This is a commendable, very personal and original project, giving the dedicated roots follower a chance to learn more about these "Reggae supers", men like the legendary Chinna Smith and Kiddus I. Watching them play in this relaxed manner -- in their own homes as opposed to in an impersonal concert or studio situation -- gives a real insight into their motivations and personalities.

These are heavy, spontaneous sessions -- it would be a pleasure though, in the future, to see both Kiddus and Chinna take this acoustic, meditative project into a studio to work off the rough edges, ultimately to produce a carefully prepared, well produced album like Bim Sherman's "Miracle."

Now that would be worth waiting for. This rough and ready "backyard session" does work well on its own terms -- but it is surely a taster for a deeper, more polished project just waiting to be released.

This release is recommended for the DVD alone -- the audio CD is a bonus, with focus on Kiddus I's commendable poetry which emphasises detachment from politricks and a rejection of the relentless competition that sets man against man.

"So you who are thirsty,
I say don't drink any of ( Babylon's ) waters --
(Instead) you should drink of life's living waters.
Let it fill you and guide you : Babylon can't quench.
This holy flame is burning. Burning.
(Yet Babylon) wants more, more and more." ( Kiddus I : "They Reached Their Peaks." ) - Reggae-vibes.com 07/04/07


Beginning this month The Reggae Review will give attention to a classic collection of reggae music. Reggae at it's finest. Reggae in it simplest form. Reggae Inna De Yard...literally!
Inna De Yard is a relatively new label, a collection supported by Makasound. It presents the songs the way they were created, in the yards and backyards of Jamaica. With a lead voice and a guitar, sometimes accompanied by nyabinghi drums or background vocals, depending on the vibes. It's back to the roots of reggae music as it was when it arose from the yards......

The collection opens with an album from the famous guitarist- composer, author, singer and arranger- of the Soul Syndicate, who also played with the Wailers and more recently Sizzla: Earl 'Chinna' Smith, nicknamed Earl Flute by Keith Hudson for his vocal feats. He notably wrote the unforgettable Junior Byles' hit, 'Fade Away' . In the last 30 years he arranged countless instrumentals for almost every Jamaican artist. He remains one of the most sought after musicians on the island.

On this first Inna De Yard opus, Chinna plays seven of his own songs- including the famed Satan Side, Fade Away and We Got Love. On every other piece, he gives up his place to artists he wanted to introduce on his Inna De Yard album. Young talents such as Jah Youth, Emmanuel I, The Maestro, and elder artists such as Ken Bob and Ras Michael Jr. - Thereggaereview.com 11/10/09


Earl "Chinna" Smith is arguably the great reggae guitar maestro, a legendary musician who played with a "who's who" of reggae acts, often as part of the prolific Soul Syndicate band. He rarely gets the spotlight, but the sublime Inna de Yard is perhaps the best showcase for his talents you can buy. There have been several attempts to fuse folksy acoustic guitar with reggae -- by Mishka, Screwdriver, Qushan Dia, and Ziggy Marley, to name a few -- but none has done is as successfully as Smith does on Inna de Yard. This album is a true marvel in this modern age: totally acoustic with little more than a guitar and an occasional distant drum to support the vocalists. It's even recorded outdoors, which brings new meaning to the title Inna de Yard. This all lends a serene, meditative quality that, though it may not appeal to everyone (those looking for an adrenaline rush -- say, athletes or scorned postal workers -- may want to search elsewhere), is a uniquely affecting experience. Only three tracks ("Well Ah Oh", "All With Life", and "Dem No Know") have a typically reggae hiccupping "one drop" rhythm, and that's because they share the same music. The rest is distinctly folk-inclined, yet they still retain a reggae base, anchored by the excellent, rootsy vocals. Think Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". Chinna sings on half of the songs here, and it's surprising that he's not sung more on recordings; his voice is warm and soulful in the vein of Dennis Brown or Freddie McGregor. His creative powers, however, are fully realized when you factor in that he wrote Soul Syndicate's "Mariwana" and "We Got Love" (remade later by McGregor), as well as Keith Hudson's "Satan Side". In case you didn't know, he covers all three on Inna de Yard (He also wrote Junior Byles's "Fade Away", but that's not remade here.). The acoustic guitar sound shines a new, refreshing light on these tunes, particularly the latter (attributed to Smith using the pseudonym Earl Flute; see Rebel Music), which had previously relied on a thunderous, distinctly non-acoustic bass line. Chinna's originals are even more impressive, though. "Home Grown" is a sincere ganja anthem, while "Humble Servant" is a placid statement of his faith. Chinna shares the spotlight with veteran singer Ken Bob and lesser-known artists, including Ras Michael's son, as well as his own. While Earl Smith Jr. provides a solid DJ turn on "Dem No Know," Ras Michael Jr. contributes the most striking tune, "Medicine Man". It presents a vivid tale of a dreadlocked "bush doctor" who indirectly has ties to Jesus Christ and is sung with exquisite emotion. Bob's "A Chapter a Day" (the non-acoustic version of which is on his Reggae Rider album), DJ Jah Youth's "Well Ah Oh", and Maestro's "Are You Ready" -- sung with an eerily Junior Murvin-like falsetto -- also stand out, although virtually the entire album shines. Until this point, the French label Makasound has focused on reissues of old music, but given the quality of this original effort, let's hope they continue to put out newly recorded works as well. - reggae-reviews.com


Bob Marley's sons may still be doing well, but these are lean times for Jamaican reggae on the global market. So can a new approach and a little rebranding help to promote the island's artists on the world music scene? It seems that it can, at least in France, where this set has already sold an impressive 25,000 copies. The idea was simple: get classic reggae artists to record pared-down, acoustic songs, and do so in the backyard of the great veteran guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith, whose own thoughtful singing and gently rhythmic instrumental work on We Got Love is one of the highlights of the set. Elsewhere, there's fine vocal work from the Viceroys and the Mighty Diamonds, making use of suitably sparse, if not always acoustic, backing. Then there are a couple of contributions from Junior Murvin, of Police and Thieves fame, who proves still to be in fine voice on his Curtis Mayfield tribute, Gypsy Woman. And there's a rousing revival of Congo Ashanti by Cedric Myton and the Congos, with help from the Skatalites brass section. It's an engaging, mostly laid-back album, though it's perhaps unfortunate that Jah Youth is the only younger artist taking part.

Robin Denselow - www.guardian.co.uk 08/02/08


The second instalment of Earl Chinna Smith’s groundbreaking reggae-unplugged compilation series Inna De Yard shows a definite progression from part one. The rough edged single-take nature of the previous volume’s recordings has given way to a smoother professionalism, with more studio polish, more guest backing vocals, and a wider range of instruments used.

Another difference is that the lesser-known names on the project supply some of the collection’s finest contributions. These include Be Careful, a mature-beyond-his-years vocal performance atop a solemn, marching rhythm by chip off the old block Matthew McAnuff, and Emmanuel I’s anguished, lyrically deep meditation, Greater.

But the big guns have their moments too. Kiddus I’s re-interpretation of his biggest tune Graduation In Zion proves that the least worldly voice in reggae hasn’t aged a bit; whereas Chinna’s mellow reimagining of Fade Away turns Junior Byles angry warning into a dreamy dismissal. The latter also features the familiar dog barking in the background from Cedric Myton’s Congo Ashanty on Yard I, one of the few raw elements carried over from the first disc.

How much the slight shift in production values will affect your enjoyment will depend on what you valued most about the Inna De Yard concept. Granted a little of the DIY “spontaneity” (if such a thing can really exist on a recording designed for public consumption) is gone with the fluffed notes and carefree mic-placement. But overall we have another enjoyable summary of this subsidiary label’s work, which could well reach a larger audience than the first.

Angus Taylor. - United reggae magazine 30/10/08


Reggae's potential in an acoustic setting has not yet been adequately explored on record. Tanya Stephens released some live versions MTV unplugged style, Richie Spice cut the wonderful Outta The Blue on a rhythm with a passing resemblance to the theme from the TV show Firefly, and of course, who could forget Buju Banton's Untold Stories? But the benchmark of reggae sans wires has to be the Bim Sherman, Adrien Sherwood and Talvin Singh Collaboration Miracle, now sadly unavailable on vinyl or cd.

The Inna De Yard Series was conceived by the guitarist Earl Chinna Smith to take reggae back to the yards of Jamaica ("Yard") that it originally came from. Featuring just an acoustic guitar and voice, and in some cases other rudimentary backing, these off-the-cuff performances resulted in albums from Kiddus I, Cedric Myton, Linval Thompson and others, released on a Makasound subsidiary, also called Inna De Yard. Although a little rough and ready sounding in comparison to the beautifully crafted Miracle, they are a fascinating journey into the roots of roots, and this Best Of, including a couple of unreleased gems, is as essential as Sherman's genre-bending 1997 release.

On hearing track one, The Viceroys harmonising dolefully on Heart Made Of Stone, it becomes obvious that reggae don't need no bass, putting paid to the essentialist dogma (tacitly accepted by many) that low frequencies occupy a similarly privileged position to that of the electric guitar in rock. On the contrary, with complete equality between the instruments, slotting together a jigsaw of sounds, rather than a series of plodding minor variations on the same theme, reggae can truly be said to be the sum of its parts.

The songs have been chosen perfectly (which is to say, had Reggae News been given the job of selecting the tracklisting, these are the ones we would have picked!) and the resulting compilation is one of the strongest from the Makasound stable. Junior Murvin wakes us up a little with a simple drums, bass and guitar arrangement on Rescue The Children, Jah Youth tells of his concerns about reduced sperm count (!) before delivering a mournful chant on Well Ah Oh, and Chinna offers a lilting version of his and Freddie McGregor's soulful We Got Love - complete with guitar solo and scat singing - that feels like we are sharing something very private and special indeed.

Ya Ho by The Viceroys is another full band affair recorded Yard style, while the smoky voice of Kiddus I (unchanged after all these years) gives a dark forecast over Smith's fretwork on No Salvation Until; a foreboding performance of almost unbearable tension. Ras Michael Jr's White Line is a moody strummer that could almost be the work of Richie Havens, and Cedric Myton's frenzied, ritualistic acoustic take on Congo Ashanty will have the Mojo crowd quivering with delight.

Then there are the previously unreleased tracks: The Mighty Diamonds' harmonies on Country Living are a dealmaker for anyone thinking of seeing them live, while Prince Alla's bass-drum, flute and guitar march through Great Stone is an apocalyptic beast that slouches of its own accord.

The coarseness of some of the recordings and the one-take approach has led some reviewers to lament the lack of budget and finish given to the project, but this is missing the point by a country mile. Once you stop treating this as an "unplugged" style album and see it as a post party back garden jam just for you, the versatility and history of the music and the power of this collection become clear.


Reviewed by Angus Taylor - reggaenews.co.uk


Discography

Earl Chinna Smith and Idrens Vol 1 (2005, Inna de yard)
Kiddus I (2005, Inna de yard)
Linval Thompson (2006, Inna de yard)
Cedric Congo Myton (2006, Inna de yard)
The Viceroys (2007, Inna de yard)
Ras Mickael Junior "Medecine man"(2007, Inna de yard)
Junior Murvin (2007, Inna de yard)
Inna de yard allstars (2007, compilation)
The Mythy Diamonds (2008, Inna de yard)
Earl Chinna Smith and Idrens Vol 2 (2008, Inna de Yard)

Photos

Bio

The Masters of Reggae unplugged are back for an exceptional string of concerts in Europe this summer 2010. Led by legendary guitarist Earl Chinna Smith, Inna de Yard brings together some of the greatest reggae heroes to take us down to the heart and source of Jamaican music. A meeting point of traditional Caribbean music, folk, blues and soul music, Inna de Yard reminds us of the richness and originality of this music, of its diversity and timelessness.

Six years ago, the first volume of the Inna de Yard collection came into being (Earl Chinna Smith & Idrens). Born from Makasound’s will and its meeting with legendary guitarist Earl Chinna Smith, the unplugged recordings “inna the yard” showed the audience another angle of Jamaican made reggae. Both the public and the press hailed this initiative, rediscovering “roots” artists through amazing renderings of their 70s hits. The idea appealed first of all to the artists themselves. Among them, Cedric Congo Myton, Kiddus I, Junior Murvin, The Viceroys, Linval Thompson or the Mighty Diamonds. The project also allowed the public to discover some young up-and-coming talents such as Derajah or Matthew McAnuff.

This novel unplugged experience took life onstage, notably thanks to the Printemps de Bourges, the first place to welcome this creation, followed by a French tour in 2009, that ended with a legendary concert at Cabaret Sauvage, Paris.

On the same stage, there will therefore be: Earl Chinna Smith, Kiddus I (mythical figure from the film Rockers), Cedric Congo Myton (the Congos’ falsetto lead), but also the young Derajah (noticed on the first volume) and Matthew McAnuff (whose track “Be Careful” was largely broadcast by Radio Nova). Musicians Kush McAnuff on drums, Muctar Wurie on the piano and Alphonso Craig (Sizzla’s percussionist) cap it all, with special guest Clinton Fearon (voice and bass), ex-member of the Gladiators! A dream team indeed for all roots reggae lovers, but also for those keen on discovering a genuine and different reggae, at the base of the Jamaican roots music that emerged from the yards.

Please contact :

Romain Germa
Makasound
83 rue de Reuilly
75012 Paris, France
Tél. : +33 1 53 36 00 86
romain@makasound.com