Various Artists

Armageddon Time

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Producer Phillip "Fatis" Burrell is at the top of his form these days, not only producing for hit acts like Luciano, Capleton, and Sizzla, but also demonstrating how technology and an emphasis on dancehall-derived rhythms can be put to more uplifting use than the vulgar "slackness" of so much modern reggae. This excellent compilation focuses on explicitly religious and sociopolitical message songs, from Luciano's hymnlike "Sweep Over My Soul" to Mikey General's "Unseen Blessing," and even a cameo appearance by the legendary Marcia Griffiths on a cover version of Bob Marley's "Bus Dem Shut (Pyaka)." There are some nice DJ performances as well -- Sizzla rides the "Sweep over My Soul" rhythm with the similarly rootsy "Babylon a Listen," Capleton follows "Unseen Blessing" with his own "Stand Tall" on the same rhythm, and there's a charming sermon from Baba Tundeh titled "Baba Tundeh a Come" ("See Baba Tundeh a come deh/Wit' a basket of consciousness"). This is the state of the art in modern roots reggae.

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