Ras Michael

Dadawah -- Peace & Love/Nyahbinghi

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This compilation brings together in their entirety Ras Michael's debut and sophomore albums, Dadawah -- Peace & Love and Nyahbinghi, respectively. Back in 1968, the singing drummer began self-producing and releasing in small quantities records on his own Zion Disco label, but these sets were the first to receive distribution, and thus Ras Michael's introduction to a larger, international audience. Although convenient for fans, the two albums do not sit together well, as they're vastly different sets. Dadawah was a revelation, a stunning album that, across a mere four numbers, wove together a grounation feel, thick roots atmospheres, blues, rock, psychedelia, and deep Rastafarian devotion. Brilliantly produced by Lloyd Charmers, who also provided keyboards, with stunning work from guitarist Willie Lindo and the rhythm section of Paul Williams and Lloyd Parks, Dadawah remains one of the most exceptional albums of its, or any other, day. That sumptuous set is almost the polar opposite of the Nyahbinghi album. On that set, Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus returned to their real roots, creating a much purer grounation sound, accentuated by the inclusion of such old standards as "Roll River Jordan," "Jah Got the Whole World," and "The Lion Sleeps" (aka "Rise Jah Jah Children"). Dadawah made no attempt to capture the communal flavor of rural musical gatherings, but its follow-up does to such an extent that it sounds as if producer Tommy Cowan set up mikes in a field and let the village folk get on with their festivities. It's that pure country feel, with everyone singing and playing along, that is Nyahbinghi's real charm, bringing a slice of Jamaica's rural religious life to an international audience. Together the albums present two very different musical worlds, linked only by the deep devotion that underpins them both.

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