Alpha Blondy

Jerusalem

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Despite heated protests from his parents, Alpha Blondy abandoned his studies in education to establish himself as a singer, a move influenced by his discovery of the Rastafarian faith and the music of international reggae star Bob Marley. A longtime dream was fulfilled in 1986 when, five years after Marley's death, the singer's backing band, the Wailers, supplied the rhythms for Blondy's third album. Recorded in Jamaica, Jerusalem remains one of Blondy's most satisfying song collections. Lyrics alternate among English, French, and Blondy's own Dioula, a mix the singer attempts to unite through the rhythms of reggae music. Aiding him in his pursuits are some of the island's finest. Under Bob Marley, the seasoned rhythm team of brothers Aston and Carlton Barrett (bass and drums), Junior Murvin (guitar), and Earl Lindo (keyboards) refined reggae music to the slick, near-universal pulse Blondy was seeking. Though their former mentor's success distanced the Wailers somewhat from Jamaica's hard roots audience, they lost none of their exceptional musicianship in the process. The sound of Carlton Barrett's slick snare beats and Earl "Chinna" Smith's supple bluesy lines may have lacked the rough hues of the 1970s, but they did provide many music fans with a palatable introduction to reggae. Behind Blondy, they helped propel the singer to his own level of crossover success. Though the mix by engineers Anthony Kelly, Gary Sutherland, and Solgie Hamilton applies a certain amount of gloss to the music, sparse, competent rhythms ride below Blondy on tracks like "Boulevard de la Mort," "Travailler C'Est Trop Dur," and "Bloodshed in Africa."

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