TROJAN RASTAFARI BOX SET (TRBCD022) - Many of Jamaican's singers and players profess a belief in Rastafari, and the faith's influence on the island's music over the last thirty years has been phenomenal. Without doubt, the most famous Rasta musician was Bob Marley. And it was partly through the latter's patronage that the Twelve Tribes achieved a high profile in the late seventies. Currently, largely due to the activities of Capleton "The Prophet", it's the Bobo Dreads who are at the forefront, although it has to be said their "Fire Bun" policies have proved controversial. At the same time, artists like Beenie Man and Luciano "The Messenger" still hold true to a more traditional set of beliefs based on the Old Testament. Whilst others identify themselves with the Nyah Bingi sect. Despite being spread across a number of factions, Rastafarians have resisted becoming marginalised through their diversity. If anything, the reverse is true and they have steadily grown in influence over the last decade.

Although there have been several Roots collections on Trojan, there has never been a compilation dedicated solely to Rastafari. In this writers opinion it was better to reserve the subject for a box set, so that the appropriate care could be taken over the selection of tracks, and due respect given to the presentation. With other releases in this series proving to be so successful, now would seem the perfect time for such a retrospective. And as symbolism has always been an important factor in Jamaican music, the use of three discs holds some significance here. Together they serve to remind us of the Trinity, the cycle of life, and the three colours of Rastafari (Red, Gold and Green). All tracks date from between the late seventies and mid-eighties, with the majority being recorded at Channel One Studio on Maxfield Avenue in Kingston.

We open this collection with a trio of social commentary cuts, starting with a stinging criticism of society's leaders by Ronnie Davis. Formerly a member of The Tennors vocal group, Davis also features on the compelling Got To Go Home, and on a rootsy update of the Melodians hit Rivers Of Babylon. Winston Jarrett attacks the Jamaican establishment on Tired Of The System, whilst Don Carlos uses Back Weh With Your Mix Up to warn against division in the ghetto. The latter, one of several recuts, uses an updated rhythm track to Johnnie Clarke's Cold I Up. Others include Al Campbell's Free Up Rasta (Let Me Go Girl), and Hold On To Jah by Reggae George (Johnnie Clarke's Hold On rhythm). Collectively, the sequence of cuts on Disc One highlight the many trials and tribulations faced by Rastafarians, mostly brought about by society's ignorance, prejudice and injustice.

Disc Two concentrates more on the spiritual wealth gained from worshipping Jah (God), and living an upright life. We open with Lincoln "Sugar" Minott's superb The People Ought To Know, on which Sugar outlines creation and man's fall from grace. Recorded in 1979, and taken from the album Ghetto-ology (TRLS 173), it captures the singer at his youthful best. Johnnie Clarke follows with a complimentary Give Thanks, over a Bunny Lee update on the rhythm to Ken Boothe's Freedom Street (a big hit for the latter whilst recording for Leslie Kong). Further rhythms updated include Don Carlos's Praise Jah With Love And Affection, which uses Slim Smith's Love And Affection, and Barry Brown's Natty Roots Man which rewinds Johnnie Clarke's classic Enter Into His Gates With Praise. The Royals continue our central theme with their own If I Were You, the second of three cuts from the group in this collection. Their final track, Peace And Love, may sound familiar as it was reworked by Boy George.

The individual messages contained on this third disc, may seem varied at first sight. However, they are bound together by a central theme of Armageddon. There is also a rich sub-text, which warns the wicked to prepare for the aforementioned, and repent while they still have the opportunity. Al Campbell sets the scene with The Moment Of Truth, warning that a day will come when every man must stand up and face his judgement. Jimmy Riley compliments with Hard Headed Israelites, as does Michael Prophet on Evil Doers (a recut of the Glen Brown rhythm made famous by Prince Jazzbo's Mr. Harry Skank). Other tracks especially worthy of mention include Cornell Campbell's Fight Against Corruption, which updates Beat Down Babylon by Junior Byles, giving it new life, and a superbly heavy outing from The Maytones on Who can't hear Will feel. Not Surprisingly, the rhythm was laid by Sly (who gets a name check on the groups Throw Down Your Arms) & Robbie during their Revolutionaries mode at Channel One. Amongst the remaining tracks are an update of Alexander Henry's Please Be True rhythm (a Studio One original) in the shape of No Weak Heart by Ronnie Davis, plus Barrington Levy's Captivity, an adaption of Take Five.

The sentiments expressed on all of these classic waxings have lost nothing of their relevance, or ptence. They sound just as powerful (and compelling) today, as they did when originally recorded. The intention of this set has been to provide a neutral platform for the tenets of Rastafari, allowing the artists to state their case in their own words. "Each one teach one" they say in Jamaica, and so it is hoped that this collection will help enlighten the curious, dispel some of the myths, and provide the already converted with a focus for meditation

One Love.

Chris Pete (Let's Catch The Beat)

DISC 1

DISC 2

DISC 3

False Leaders
Ronnie Davis
Tired Of The System
Winston Jarrett
Back Weh With Your Mix Up
Don Carlos
Jah Jah Rain A Fall
Michael Prophet
Rivers Of Babylon
Ronnie Davis
Oh Oh Natty Dread
Mike Brooks
Save Us Jah
Vernon Buckley
Free Up Rasta
Al Campbell
Free Speech And Movement
The Royals
Nyah Bingi
Jimmy Riley
Dread Locks
Anthony Johnson
Press Along Natty
Cornell Campbell
Never Give Up In A Babylon
Pancho Alphonso
Hold On To Jah
Reggae George
Going The Wrong Way
Al Campbell
Got To Go Home
Ronnie Davis
A Yah Weh Deh
Barrington Levy

The People Ought To Know
Sugar Minott
Give Thanks
Johnnie Clarke
Jah Jah Give Us Love
Cornell Campbell
Natty Roots Man
Barry Brown
Have Roots In Jah
Michael Palmer
Praise Jah With Love And Affection
Don Carlos
If I Were You
The Royals
This Is A True True Love
Al Campbell
Jah Jah Love Everybody
Barry Brown
Jah Love
Michael Prophet
Praise The Name Of Jah
Johnnie Clarke
Watches Over You
Pancho Alphonso
Jah Praise
The Maytones
Give Thanks And Praise
Barry Brown
So Many Things
Sugar Minott
Peace And Love
The Royals

The Moment Of Truth
Al Campbell
Jah Oh Jah
The Viceroys
Throw Down Your Arms
The Maytones
Never Get To Zion
Pancho Alphonso
Fight Against Corruption
Cornell Campbell
No Weak Heart (Shall Enter Zion)
Ronnis Davis
Enter The Kingdom Of Zion
Barry Brown
Captivity
Barrington Levy
Lead Us Jah Jah
Barry Brown
Hard Headed Israelites
Jimmy Riley
Wicked A Go Feel It Now
Al Campbell
Evil Doers
Michael Prophet
Jah Jah Fire
Barry Brown
Who Can't Hear Will Feel
The Maytones
Revelation
Barrington Levy
Mash Down Babylon
Winston Jarrett
Armagideon Time
Peter And Paul

Time - 60:22

Time - 54:59

Time - 61:26

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