Judy Mowatt was one of the I-Threes, the vocal trio who served for years as Bob Marley's backup. While Marcia Griffiths was a legendary singer before the I-Threes were established, and Rita Marley has retained her status as a reggae icon (due in part to her marriage to Bob), Mowatt has been unjustly overlooked by the general public. Her voice may not be quite as refined as Griffiths', but it's a rich, earthy instrument with strong gospel overtones. Gospel traditions also deeply inform her lyrics, which are generally concerned with spiritual issues. That said, Black Woman is something of a mixed bag. It includes three fine versions of Bob Marley compositions ("Concrete Jungle," "Put It On" and the rare and lovely "Down in the Valley"), as well as Freddie McGregor's "Zion Chant" and six Mowatt originals. Mowatt's songs vary rather drastically in quality: "Slave Queen," for example, is flat both lyrically and melodically, but "Many Are Called" is a masterpiece. The proceedings are not livened by a rather lackluster mix.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson