Written by Fumo Verde
Studio One does it again with some great old school Reggae. Freddie McGregor, the internationally acclaimed, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter is presented here with some of his earliest tracks. Bobby Bobylon brings Freddie back to his beginnings with Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, this being the time when many Jamaicans were embracing Rasta and when Reggae was starting to explode. Here, McGregor shows how he kept in touch with the Jamaican public by writing great love songs and true-to-life cultural material. This new release has not only the ten original tracks but also eight additional singles.
Okay, you katz and kittenz, I'm gonna cut right into the meat of this awesome disc. "Bobby Bobylon" is the title track (#6) and it is my favorite right off the bat. The rhythm comes from the Jackie Mittoo's "One Step Beyond" instrumental, and lyrics like "...you brought us here in captivity and feed us with your brutality, turn your back on humanity..." reflect the roots of Rasta music and allow you to feel what Rasta and Reggae is all about. The liner notes stated that this version is previously unreleased. I dig when the liner notes give you a little history of where or how the song came about, and Studio One has done that plenty with this disc, which is a plus in Fumo's book. My other favorite song is "I'm a Revolutionist" and as you can tell by the title why, once again Rasta Roots is presented in all its glory. This track was first released as "I’m a Rasta" on the original 1976 release of the Bobby Bobylon LP.
This CD is a mix of strong, rebellious Reggae blast, groovin' Rocksteady beats and warm Caribbean love songs that are as soothing as the soft island breezes that blow through the night. The words of "Tomorrow is Today" strike a chord with those who have ever been in love. Other songs such as "We Need More Love" and "Wine of Violence" stress the points of love, kindness and social justice. "We Need More Love (in the Ghetto) " brings a melodic Rocksteady beat with a chorus of brass leading to the bridge. "Wine of Violence" was sung over Ernest Wilson's "Undying Love" rhythm and was covered by Freddie in 1987. The title is a biblical reference from Proverbs 4:17, For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. This song sounds like it was to remind Rastas to stay pure to their faith. "Rasta Man Camp" is another Rasta rally song with deep root drumbeats.
Now that I have learned of this great artist, I will definitely be picking up some more of his work. Bobby Bobylon is a must have for any Reggae collection and Freddie McGregor is up there with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear. His soulful voice flows along with rhythms as his lyrics give way to scenes and stories of what life looks like from the Jamaican point of view. This CD has just made its way into the rotation of my "usual suspects" that I seem to constantly bombard my neighbors with-- always play it loud-- and from now on, I will be picking up more from Mr. McGregor.
This is Fumo saying... Ire I and a rub-a-dub-dub.