The momentum Burning Spear had built up with their American releases on the Island Records' subsidiary Mango in the mid-'70s, particularly 1975's Marcus Garvey, dissipated later in the decade and in the early '80s when the band left Island and recorded on their own or for British EMI, with the albums Social Living (aka Marcus' Children) and Hail H.I.M. not earning stateside release. But in 1982, the year after Bob Marley's death, Heartbeat Records leased Burning Spear's next album, Farover, giving Winston Rodney and company their first American issue since 1978's Live!. If Heartbeat was hoping Burning Spear would be able to take up the cause of reggae internationally in Marley's place, they were bound to be disappointed. Rodney shared Marley's concerns, particularly the pan-Africanism he expressed in the first three tracks -- "Farover," "Greetings," and the paean to Garvey, "Image" -- as well as the commitment to Rastafarianism evident in the last three, "The Message," "Oh Jah," and "Jah Is My Driver." And he could also take time out to consider the joys of dancing ("Rock") and the challenges of romance ("She's Mine"), even if he was doing so by remaking old songs from his days at Studio One. But Rodney's increasingly smooth vocal style and the laid-back musical tracks (played by Wailers' alumnus Aston "Family Man" Barrett, among others), while emotive, lacked Marley's fervor and didn't even stand up to his own Mango recordings. He was still good enough to address reggae's existing audience, but not to expand that audience in the way that Marley had sought to.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann