Horace Andy / Mad Professor

From the Roots

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For more than 20 years now, the British reggae producer known as Mad Professor (aka Neal Fraser) has been plying his patented electronic-roots sound in the service of some of the most enjoyable (and, it must be said, at times some of the most tedious) modern dub, as well as to light new fire under veteran vocalists who were maybe starting to coast just a bit. That's not the problem in this case -- Horace Andy, who was something of a star in Jamaica back in the 1970s and has since enjoyed steady work in both the U.S. and the U.K, achieving significant crossover recognition for his work with trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack, has really never let up the pressure. His reedy falsetto is nicely balanced on this album by Mad Professor's rhythms, which alternate between militant rockers settings ("Bingy Man," "Zion the Holy Land") and gentle stagger-step dancehall beats ("Gimme What Me Want!!"), over which Andy sings dark anti-Babylonian imprecations ("Vanity Vanity") and one-drop romantic pleas ("For Me"). There is also, unfortunately, a lame cover of the old Sandie Shaw hit "Girl Don't Come," but that misstep just serves to point up the quality of almost every other track. Recommended.

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