Willi Williams Di Real Rock

Williams has a permanent place in reggae history thanks to his recording of "Armageddon Time," which was made universal by the Clash. A 40-year veteran, he's irredeemably old school and Di Real Rock, bless his heart, is available on vinyl-only. This disc gestated for 11 years and on the positive side, the sound is varied. The riddim for leadoff track "Before Old Pirates Came" is a simmering roots groove that sounds like it could have been recorded 30 years ago. Continuing with the strong vibes of "African Symbol" and the title track, the sound of this album is hard to pin down, sounding neither like the polished neo-roots of today but certainly not like the roots of old. The album is reminiscent of Bullwackie productions, which sound like they're from a parallel Jamaican universe. Like those New York productions of the '80s, when the idiosyncrasies don't gel the proceedings sound like poorly produced demos, as on "Terrorism" and "Render Your Heart." Williams' voice isn't blessed with natural ability but his phrasing is still compelling. This is a success, albeit a low-key one. (Drum Street)