When Boom Shaka's third album, Freedom Now, came out on the Chicago-based Stone Mountain label in 1996, the reggae band wasn't huge, but it did enjoy a small following playing around Los Angeles. A few publications described Shaka as an "American reggae band," awhich was a bit ironic given that some of its members were from Antigua and Trinidad. Whether Shaka was American or Caribbean, the main thing was how good it was. Instead of going out of its way to appeal to dancehall audiences, Shaka recalls early Steel Pulse on such melodic offerings as "Western Town," "Chains" and "Rough." Although Pulse is a prominent influence, Shaka isn't as slick or overtly commercial as Pulse came to be and has an identity of its own. On this CD, knowledgeable reggae listeners will also hear the influence of Third World and occasionally, the earthy Burning Spear. The least enlightened tune on the disc is "Vatican," an example of hysterical Catholic-bashing. This type of hysteria is something reggae can do without.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson