24 July 2008

Rootical Vibrations

Crab Race by the Morwells, from Crab Race (Burning Sounds, 1977) Bird in Hand by the Upsetters, from Return of the Super Ape (VP, 1978) I couldn't hold back any longer from an all-reggae post. I love a wide variety of music, but reggae is always where I come back to... my true favorite. And of all types of reggae, none is better than the dreader-than-dread sounds coming straight from yard in the late 1970s. "Dread" is a hard sound to describe, but it's deep and rootsy, and conjures in the mind images of hot, smoky studios filled with rasta vibrations. 1977 brought us "Crab Race" by the Morwells, a Channel One/Randy's product. Super drum and bass reggae legends Sly & Robbie are one of two rhythm sections credited to the album in general, and it sounds to my ears that it's them at work here. The throbbing heart-like bassline and insistent snare patter gives me that clue. The following year, 1978, saw the release of The Return of the Super Ape album by Lee "Scratch" Perry. Scratch is a master, and at his peak he was simply untouchable. The album became a classic, and you should really go get it if you don't already have it. This song features a chorus sung in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, and an uncredited singer whose identity has never been revealed...

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