Sunday, January 2, 2011

Max Romeo & The Upsetters - War ina Babylon (1976)

Kingston's "tribal war" between the two major political parties and their associated gangs and soundsystems inspired a lot of historically profound and universal music, but this record towers above all. Max Romeo's simplistic Rasta preachings of peace, love and justice border on silly and naïve, but his voice is incredibly endearing, and Scratch's production is practically flawless. Devoid of his stranger dub stylings found on records like Heart of the Congos, To Be A Lover or Love Thy Neighbour, all we have here is his greatest bouncy riddims, fiddled with just enough to perfectly compliment Romeo's righteous vocals. "Chase the Devil" entirely deserves its place in the highest echelons of the reggae canon, the title track is just as dread, and the rest is still gorgeous, if not quite as fierce. Not just the best reggae LP on Island, not just the greatest Scratch produced LP, not just one of the finest reggae records ever made: it's an absolute landmark in Western popular music.

Genres: Roots Reggae, Reggae

A1|One Step Forward|5:00
A2|Uptown Babies|4:55
A3|Chase the Devil|3:25
A4|War ina Babylon|4:50
B3|Tan and See|4:35
B4|Smokey Room|3:06
B5|Smile Out of Style|3:33




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