Radio Riddler
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Radio Riddler

London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2001
Band World Reggae




"Review - Purple Reggae"

As someone who loves all things new wave and who's a member of a band doing ska/reggae covers of new wave/post punk hits, my antennae shot up when I first heard about Radio Riddler's Purple Reggae project, a song-by-song reggae take on Prince and The Revolution's Purple Rain. Back when this record and film were released in the summer of 1984 (following the massive success of 1999--so much so that my dad even used my purple 1999 t-shirt with the title song's lyrics on the back for a cringe-inducing sermon he gave one youth Sunday at our church), Purple Rain was one of those near-perfect albums (take a look at the track list), where almost every song on both sides of the record was stellar. And the songs touched on enough musical genres to have extraordinarily wide appeal--they attracted fans of new wave, classic rock, pop, funk, rhythm and blues, and more.

It was inescapable, too. Cuts from Purple Rain were all over radio and MTV--and deservedly so. If you were a teenage consumer of music at the time, Purple Rain had a profound impact. Years on, the album has become a touchstone of your youth and the songs evoke all sorts of sharp memories. You know where you were, what you were doing, and who you were doing it with. I'll always remember how the girls in my circle of friends were all out crazy for Prince--they dug his music, his intense and charismatic performances, and his overt sexuality that was tempered by all the theatricality and androgyny. My girlfriend at the time was the one who scored us tickets to see Prince and The Revolution at Madison Square Garden and it was a pretty great show, even if we were in the last row in the nosebleed seats and could only see Prince through a pair of binoculars.

For the past several years, Radio Riddler--Brian Fast Leiser and Frank Benbini of Fun Lovin' Criminals--have been creating reggae and dub mixes of songs by many of their favorite artists (such as Marvin Gaye). This has led them to take on a reported five-year project in celebration of Purple Rain. (I wonder how Prince feels about Radio Riddler's logo, which appropriates Warner Brothers' logo. He had an ugly and long-running battle with WB, which was just recently resolved...) Timed to celebrate the 30th anniversary (!) of the release of Purple Rain, Radio Riddler's Purple Reggae, featuring guest vocals by Suggs (Madness), Sinead O'Connor, Ali Campbell (ex-UB40), Citizen Cope, Deborah Bonham (sister of the Led Zeppelin drummer), and Beverley Knight (a hugely popular soul/r and b singer in the UK, who has an MBE in recognition of all of her charity work), is an ambitious, ingenious, and throughly enjoyable tribute this classic album.

The most successful realization of this effort may be Radio Riddler's incredible version of "Let's Go Crazy" with Suggs on vocals--his relaxed, assured, and upbeat delivery is the perfect counterpoint to the amped up music and propulsive riddim he's riding. It's always been my favorite track on Purple Rain (I've always thought of it as a "1999, Part II" with its "enjoy yourself, it's later than you think" attitude about our mortality, coupled with the subliminal Cold War-era dread of living with the pretty high possibility of nuclear war--the air raid siren at the beginning and end of Radio Riddler's mix reinforces what was then a very real threat, as does the Pac Man-like "game over" sound effect when the track fades out...). This version uses many of the same elements of the original--Prince's unique, processed electronic drum sound, which is used throughout this album, and the song's emphasis on the repeated organ line--but everything's been revamped with a bouncy and extremely catchy reggae skank and it works exceedingly well. (I'd almost recommend you buy this album on this track alone, but that would give short-shrift to all the amazing songs that follow...)

"Take Me With U" moves into loping reggae/soul territory with Deborah Bonham's impassioned singing (it's no longer a duet, as it was between Prince and Apollonia) and this arrangement sheds some of the original's tightly-wound urgency, but in turn adds more emotional depth and impact. In contrast, "The Beautiful Ones'" tempo is sped up here, giving Prince's mostly breezy, delicate ballad (with Benbini singing falsetto) a bit of worried urgency over whether she'll choose the other guy over The Kid that the source lacks (until the end, of course, when Prince freaks out). Radio Riddler manage to translate the electro-funk of "Computer Blue" into a great horn-driven ska track (with a killer reggae break in the middle, featuring trombone and melodica). Back in the day, I remember thinking that "Darling Nikki" was a ridiculously indulgent (and kind of embarrassing) track (and it still is), marring Prince's otherwise extraordinary album. At least Radio Riddler's cooly seductive dancehall-ish version--with Benbini at the mic--is a much more pleasant/less skanky experience.

While Prince and The Revolution's mega-hit "When Doves Cry" is a spare drums/keyboard track with no bass line (that endows it with a tension and claustrophobic feeling that reflects the pain and desperate sorrow in the lyrics--as well as a distinctive sound that was unlike anything on the radio at the time), Radio Riddler sneak the bass back in under the bubbling keys (after all, how can you have reggae without the bass?!). And their inventive arrangement (it opens with a marimba and accordion covering the keyboard riff from the original) along with Citizen Cope's wounded singing are completely stellar. Given Sinead O'Connor's past association with Prince (she had an enormous hit in 1990 with the Prince composition "Nothing Compares 2 U") and her well-known love of reggae (in 2005, she recorded the superb Throw Down Your Arms, where she covered roots reggae cuts by Burning Spear, Junior Byles, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Lee Perry, The Abyssinians, and others, backed by Sly and Robbie), it's brilliant that Radio Riddler were able to feature her on this recording. It's even more fantastic that O'Connor sings "I Would Die 4 U" (where Prince, um, strives to be like/assumes the qualities of the son of God and pledges to sacrifice himself in order to redeem his lover), given her deep religious beliefs and that fact that she's an ordained priest in the Catholic Latin Tridentine Church. She serves up a restrained, but very moving performance, as if she's already carrying the sins of the world on her shoulders and knows what will have to be done to save us.

The slow, but strutting funky-reggae arrangement of "Baby, I'm a Star" provides Beverly Knight the space to show off her gorgeous voice and considerable talent--and so effectively convey the mighty swagger of the lyrics that she gives Prince a run for his money. She owns this. Purple Reggae is capped off by an awesomely melancholic, but defiantly joyful rendition of "Purple Rain" sung by the unmistakable Ali Campbell. If you played this track for someone who didn't know what it was, they'd swear it was a long-lost UB40 cut from the 80s, when they were in their prime.

Radio Riddler's Purple Reggae is a superb (and fun!) re-imagining of this classic record, one that is faithful to the spirit and sound of the original, while successfully transforming these songs into dynamic, new reggae cuts. If you're a fan of reggae and of Prince, Purple Reggae is a must! - Duff Guide To Ska

"Review - Radio Riddler - Purple Reggae"

Album Review:
How the hell are you supposed to review a remake of Purple Rain? In most reviews, you have to weigh heavily on the quality of the original material & song writing, which are large parts of the equation, but in this case, Radio Riddler is paying tribute to one of the most Iconic albums of all time!

It is a massive undertaking to pay tribute to such an influential artist, such as Prince, especially when adapting the original work to another genre, but Radio Riddler, and the talent they brought along, really gave it the treatment. Overall I think Purple Reggae Is a well done tribute, from studio production to musicianship and singing, all the renditions hold their weight.

After listening, researching, thinking about the album for a while, I did notice one thing missing that left it hard for me to get really excited about the release – Danger. Prince was dangerous when he came out, he was wildly sexual and pushed the boundaries of what was considered socially acceptable in both his music, videos and live performances. While Radio Riddler does a good job in painting that 80’s nostalgia through the use of certain synth patches/pads, that edge and rawness was lacking for me in this album. Nonetheless, Purple Reggae is still a great release.

“Let’s Go Crazy” feat. Suggs, stays pretty close to the original with an incorporated bouncing baseline that keeps the upbeat party vibe in this song. “The Beautiful Ones” is a duet between Frank Benbini and UK Singer Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, new singer for the reformed 70’s British post punk band the Slits and solo artist debuted in 2011 with her album with Prince Jammy.

“When Doves Cry” feat. Citizen Cope stands at the top of this record as one of the strongest adaptations. The traditional stepper beat and dub influenced effects tease back & forth with a ska upbeat, sneaking in, every so often. One of my favorite vocal performances is delivered by Frank Benbini on “Darling Nikki”. His raspy vocal style is perfect to deliver the story of the seductive sex fiend “Nikki”.

This project is not the first time Sinead O’Connor covered Prince, and she recently released a full length Reggae album called Throw Down Your Arms, covering some of Reggae’s biggest roots songs, so it only makes perfect sense for her to join the Riddlers on this record. Honestly, I was not really a fan of her voice in a Reggae context on her “Throw Down Your Arms” release, but she absolutely kills “I Would Die For You”.

Ali Campbell (UB40 front man) and one of the most recognizable voices in Reggae Music, having sold over 70 Million records worldwide, absolutely still has it! Ali delivers a soulful performance that shows why this UK singer is so regarded in the industry. The video version of this song ends at a quick 3:15, but the album version here stretches out to over 6 minutes with a majority of the second half of the song filled up by horn solos, and mostly trombone at that. For my ears, trombone is one of the hardest instruments to solo on and I really thought the song would have been better off without.

I mean what can you say? These are great songs and this is a very talented group of music veterans that took on the challenge of paying tribute to a legendary piece of art. The songs are well done and the vocal performances are wonderful, but I would have loved to hear more traditional sounds out of the keyboards and organ, further accentuating the bubble and skank.

As mentioned earlier, this may have been a way to throw more of an 80’s sound on the record, but for my taste, this took away from the pocket. Prince fans will appreciate this unique take on his music and fans of the Reggae collective Easy Star All-Stars will love it as well.

Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs (of A Sunny Place For Shady People)

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it's entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution] -

"Radio Riddler Release "Purple Reggae""

I'm proud to say that I am a huge Prince fan (I even stuck with him through that period of time when he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol). The 'Purple Rain' film and album still remain defining touchstones of my late adolescence and early adulthood. I saw the film the day it opened thirty years ago, during the summer of 1984 and I never got tired of hearing 'When Doves Cry' played on the radio at the David's Cookies store I worked that summer (and that song was in HEAVY radio rotation).

As such, I've been eagerly awaiting the release of "Purple Reggae" by Radio Riddler ( which includes the duo of Fast and Frank Benbini of Fun Lovin Criminals (FLC), who are reggae remix producers in their spare time). After nearly five years, they have finally released their reggae tribute to Prince and the 'Purple Rain' album in its entirety, The album features a variety of guest vocalists including Suggs of Madness who performs "Let's Go Crazy," former UB4O singer Ali Campbell singing 'Purple Rain," and Sinead O'Connor who takes on "I Would Die 4 U." The sleeper tracks for me include the duet between Hollie Cook and Benbini on "The Beautiful Ones" and "Computer Blue" which features members of The Specials touring horn section.

Though originally from New York and best known here for 'Scooby Snacks', FLC was never fully embraced by American audiences, though the UK and most of Europe really took the band to their hearts. The band members in turn always seemed to understand and tap into a uniquely European, and especially British, sense of humor.

Having worked to produce reggae remixes for a variety of artists, the Radio Riddler 'Purple Rain' project is a extension of their love of all things reggae and of Prince in particular. According to an interview that FLC drummer Frank Benbini did, "Purple Reggae" has been a true labor of love that originally came about as a lark and took on a life of its own.
Yeah, across the board. It was one of those things where we love reggae, and we have a reggae remix outfit called Radio Riddler. We’ve remixed a lot of people…Lily Allen, Coldplay…you know, we’ve done a lot of remixes for a lot of people. So we thought, what can we do? He went – “Why don’t we do the soundtrack to ‘Purple Rain’?” I was like – “That won’t work, that won’t happen, it just won’t work”. He was like – “Well, let’s give it a go”, and he did the first one, ‘Purple Rain’, he got the beats ready and sent it to me, and I was like – “Fuck! It sounds great!” Then I got a lot of my hometown players, brass sections, people from The Specials playing on there. I sang all the songs but then it was like – “Let’s get some guest artists on it”. So I started to approach different people and one person I approached was Sinéad O'Connor. She hasn’t sung a Prince song since ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ which was an international number one so I didn’t think she’d go for it. But she did, and did a version of ‘I Would Die 4 U’. Amazing. Madness are doing one, the singer from UB40’s doing one. So, yeah, that’s a great little project we’ve got going. - Marco On The Bass

"Purple Reggae Review"

2014 is the thirtieth-anniversary of Prince's Purple Rain release and Radio Riddler pays homage to that very successful album with Purple Reggae. However, Radio Riddler's spin on the music involves the reggae genre. Radio Riddler incorporates the help of vocalists, Suggs, Deborah Bonham, Frank Benbini, Naim Cortazzi, Citizen Cope, Sinead O'Connor, Beverley Knight, and Ali Campbell. Every track on Prince's original album are included here, but each tune has a reggae beat and subtle musical nuances that separate them from the originals. At any rate, Radio Riddler knows how to succeed with reggae beats and a slew of guest vocalists that provide a very talented repertoire that should not be ignored. Fans of Prince, Radio Riddler, reggae music and anyone else interested in music should love it. ~ Matthew Forss - Inside World Music

"Radio Riddler live review"

If I told you I wasn’t impressed by tonight’s support act, I’d be totally lying. Radio Riddler is a reggae band who has worked with the likes of UB40’s Ali Campbell and Ireland’s own Sinéad O Connor. From what I can see, the band already has a few fans in the crowd, as the reaction after all their songs was astonishing (and very well deserved). They played through a surprisingly short set list, finishing on a fantastic cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’. They are probably the only band I have ever seen throw out copies of their album into the crowd (no injuries as far as I could see, but hey, free music is worth it!). Radio Riddler is a band with a very unique and contagious energy that I honestly can’t compare to any other artist. They were an enjoyable band to watch and were a fantastic opening act for tonight’s show. They’re not a band I’ll be forgetting any time soon. - Dublin Concerts - Shauna Collins

"Purple Reggae review"

In a show of tribute to Prince and the 30th anniversary of his critically acclaimed album Purple Rain, English reggae duo Radio Riddler have released an album, entitled Purple Reggae. This album not only features a track-for-track cover of Purple Rain, but also contains several collaborations with well-known musicians, such as Sinead O’Connor, Suggs, and Citizen Cope.

The album starts with a highly vocally-effected eulogy, accompanied by police sirens and a cathedral organ, before seamlessly flowing into what could easily be a Smashmouth or Ace Of Base cover of “Let’s Go Crazy.” “Take Me With U” and “The Beautiful Ones” see the music get mellow and sexy. “Computer Blue” gives us a taste of ska, funk, and even old school dub, complete with a trombone and clarinet solo mid-song.

While the whole album is phenomenal, one of the standout songs is “When Doves Cry,” for including marimba and a Latin drum beat. This beat is juxtaposed by the occasional texture-driven guitar line in the chorus. The song fades out with several “Don’t cry’s” followed by a short melodica solo. But what is Purple Rain without the title-track? The song closes the album with the sounds of Bob Marley meets brass band in a six-minute-long jam, featuring UB40’s own Ali Campbell on lead vocals and various others singing backing harmonies.

Multi-instrumentalists Frank Benbini and Brian Fast Leiser have really outdone themselves with the arrangements heard in this album. Simply put, Radio Riddler have taken the best parts of the ‘90s reggae revival and mashed them up with a musical masterpiece, creating not only a good cover album, but an amazing set of practically original songs. - The Aquarian


Still working on that hot first release.




Radio Riddler is Brian Fast Leiser and Frank Benbini from the NYC band Fun Lovin' Criminals. They are lovers of Reggae/Dub music. They began their musical journey by remixing many artists in a unique Reggae/Dub style. Checkout their remixes here -

Radio Riddler's first release, Marvin Reggae, was an EP of Reggae cover versions of 5 of Marvin Gaye's most beloved songs. What made this EP special was they produced the music with acapella's of Marvin's voice. Their second release was a compilation of many of their favourite remixes entitled Dubplate's Volume 1.

Purple Reggae is their debut full length album and is 5 years in the making. Purple Reggae is a Reggae/Dub cover album of Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack in its entirety. Guest vocalists on the songs include Suggs (Madness), Ali Campbell (UB40), Sinead O'Connor, Citizen Cope, Beverley Knight and Deborah Bonham (sister of legendary drummer John Bonham). The album was released the last week of September, 2014 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the release of Purple Rain.

Live performances are being booked for the next year to promote the release of Purple Reggae.

Management -

Booking Agent - Gary Howard/The Agency Group

Press (UK/Europe) - Cat @ Fifth Element, UK

Press (North America) - Ryan @ PressJunkie PR

North American Consultant - Easy Star Records

Free Download links -

Marvin Reggae -

Dubplate's Volume 1 -

Dubplate's Volume 2 -

Band Members