Junior Reid

Firehouse Clash

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It's not as odd a pairing as it may seem, recorded long before Junior Reid joined Black Uhuru. Of course, by the time Firehouse Clash appeared, Reid had taken Michael Rose's place, thus releasing an album boasting Reid and former Uhuru founding member Don Carlos was a no-brainer. In actuality, though, the five Reid tracks within were gleaned from sessions from an aborted Voice of Progress album, the planned follow-up to their popular 1981 Mini-Bus Driver set. However, Progress imploded during the recording of the second set, and so the unfinished tracks sat on the shelf until 1986 when they were brushed off and the usable ones were salvaged. Needless to say, this wasn't much of a clash, with Carlos' six tracks winning hands down. Most of his numbers are culturally themed, from the deep roots suffering of "Living in the City" to the mournful "Black History," while the singer delivers lessons in righteousness on the infectious "No Trouble This" and "No Follow Babylon." "Spread Out" is the steamy, rub-a-dub party piece, with "Never Gonna Give Up" his loverman number. Reid's half may not equal Carlos', but there are some inspired numbers here, notably "Chanting," his strongest song within, and a popular British single. "Woman Change Your Ways," another strong single, was later added as a bonus to the CD reissue. "Respect Due" is certainly deeply felt and hints at the bright future Reid sees lying ahead as he stares into the "Mirror." Better was soon to come, but the artist's passion is already apparent here, although his singsong performances are far removed from what fans would come to expect from the artist. The entire album is accompanied by sublime, rootsy reggae rhythms, with the only concession to the rising ragga rage a sprinkling of unintrusive drum programming on top to entice the dancehall masses. Still, with musicians of the caliber of Robbie Shakespeare, Ranchie McClean, Clevie Browne, Dwight Pickney, Radcliffe Bryan, Robbie Lyn, and Ansel Collins on board, the rhythms rage, simmer, and sizzle. Not a flawless set, but certainly a worthwhile one.

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