After the worldwide success of Killer on the Rampage, Eddy Grant took a three-year sabbatical to build his own studio. By the time he returned in 1987, the rest of the world had caught up, and wandered off down the road into the sterility of disco/synth-pop. Still, that doesn't explain why Grant felt obligated to follow suit. Of course, Born Tuff isn't "pure" club: "Melody of the Night" has a hint of Bruce Springsteen and the title track a touch of Bob Marley, while there's a soca flair here and Afro-beats there (most of the underlying rhythms are reggae-based). The problem was, Grant fell into the same trap as the rest of the synth scene, believing it possible to overcome the soul-lessness of the genre, and failing miserably. "Blood Money" is a vitriolic indictment of the IMF, the Jamaican government, and American complicity in it all. It begins with a news report and a suitably vicious rhythm, but then the synths soar in and suck the life right out of the song. "Village Life" is a perky little number, Afro-beat driven and boasting a superb faux-sax solo, and "Funny Little Groove" is built around a particularly tough, funky rhythm. "She's Standing at the Corner" at least takes some chances, although it's arguably the least successful track on the set, while "Dance Party" is definitely the most exuberant, a real party piece. The fact remains that Eddy Grant had recorded the same type of material before, though much better. No wonder then, that Born Tuff failed to ignite the charts on either side of the Atlantic.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene