Max Romeo

Revelation Time

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Released in 1972, Let the Power Fall was a statement of intent that sadly saw release only in Jamaica (on the Dynamic Sounds label); thus, it was four more years before Max Romeo finally got his message out to the massive beyond the island with the masterful War ina Babylon. However, the previous year, Revelation Time hit the shops, at least in Jamaica, with United Artists picking it up internationally in 1978 and releasing it under the title Open the Iron Gate. The set suffered accordingly, being a bit out of place and out of time, but its power still managed to shine through. In reality, Revelation Time was a compilation of recent recordings, and although Clive Hunt nabbed the production credits on the album, Geoffrey Chung, Phil Pratt, Ronald Logan, and Lee Perry also had a significant hand, as did the uncredited Pete Weston, who produced the title track. The musicians' roster is equally star-studded -- the Barrett Brothers, Carlton Davis, Mickey "Boo" Richards, George "Fully" Fullwood, Earl "Chinna" Smith, Tony Chin, Tyrone Downie, Robby Lynn, and (of course) Hunt and Chung, along with the horn section of Dirty Harry, Bobby Ellis, and Tommy McCook. Needless to say, with such a cast of producers/engineers and backing bands, there's a corresponding diversity in sound, rhythms, and atmospheres. But militancy overwhelmed rules, and Romeo's powerful cultural messages stitched the set together brilliantly. Every number within is a stunner, beginning with the opening title track, wherein Romeo succinctly presents his platform for running the world over a jazzy, strongly syncopated reggae riddim. Not that there's much time left for that, for the final days are coming, and the singer sends out a powerful "Warning, Warning" of its approach. "No Peace" provides a warning of a very different kind, its threats all the more belligerent for remaining unspoken. In these turbulent times, even Rastas can lose their way, but Romeo is a watchful shepherd, grabbing the lost with his hook of a song "Tacko," which bubbles gaily on its way down the path of righteousness. At the other end of the reggae spectrum comes the highly syncopated "Blood of the Prophet," its slashing rhythm decimating the unbelievers, as Romeo proclaims his own righteousness. But even this righteous Rasta is occasionally overcome by confusion, but "A Quarter Pound of I'cense" would help put him right, assuming the singer can lay his hands on it. And the lack of peace in his neighborhood described on that number is further reflected by the events related on "Three Blind Mouse," when the police raid a local party. No wonder Romeo is demanding to "take I away from Babylon," begging Jah to "Open the Iron Gate" and "let Jah children repatriate." This album was a revelation, the very diversity of its riddims and productions a plus at a time of often repetitive, sound-alike backings, while Romeo's performance is top-notch throughout. The record helped set the stage for the following year's War ina Babylon, a masterpiece that would permanently cement Romeo's reputation as one of the island's top cultural artists.

blue highlight denotes track pick