Lutan Fyah

Phantom War

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The big turban and the prominence of fire imagery may have you wearily anticipating yet another hour-long screed on the perfidy of women, the destruction of homosexuals, and the desirability of killing Babylonians by fire, but Lutan Fyah's take on "Bobo Dread" doctrine is refreshingly openhearted and tolerant. "Screaming for the Poor" is more sad than angry, and it's a lovely song to boot; "Blood Stain" rides on a sturdy but not overbearing rockers rhythm, while "Rasta Still Deh Bout" -- a combination track featuring up-and-comer Josie Mel -- is a pop-smart gem, a highlight on Phantom War as it was (in exactly the same version) on Mel's debut. (The video featured on this album's CD-ROM track also duplicates the one found on Josie Mel's album.) "Reflections" brings a slightly different vibe, a bit more soulful and R&B-ish, and also features what may well be the first-ever use of the "reciprocity" in a reggae song. "Still Deh Deh" does a brilliant job of bringing high energy to a midtempo groove, and "Bet on It" is built on a sharply skanking electronic beat that works perfectly. There's some filler, like the self-indulgent twaddle that opens and closes the disc, but within this hour-plus program there's a truly outstanding 45-minute reggae album.

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