Burning Spear

Calling Rastafari

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By this time Burning Spear's sound is well established: slow, smoky roots reggae grooves embellished by horns and featuring little or no melody; in its place is Winston Rodney's hypnotic speak-singing, a relatively tuneless chant that invariably delivers messages of spiritual uplift, political resistance and social discipline. On his latest outing, Rodney does not departs at all from his usual approach, which in lesser artists might be seen as a sign of stagnation, but in his case just sounds like virtuous consistency. The program opens with "As It Is," which recycles Spear's classic "Marcus Garvey" with new (and unfortunately self-referential) lyrics. Things improve immediately with the sweet and quietly propulsive "Hallelujah" and the surprisingly tuneful "House of Reggae." "Statue of Liberty" combines a biting criticism of American immigration policy with percolating guitar, a funky horn line, and a martial rockers beat. The album ends with an extended mix of "Holy Man," a horn-heavy paean to Haile Selassie. The Burning Band is rock solid throughout. Highly recommended.

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