Morgan Heritage

Full Circle

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Morgan Heritage have become standard bearers for roots reggae. Listening to the opening track here, it becomes apparent that they've taken ideas on board equally from Bob Marley and Third World. They're not afraid of making their sound commercial and accessible, although with a very pleasing thickness that's perfectly commendable. Indeed, for much of the first eight cuts here, they play within that template, with conscious lyrics about righteousness in both life and relationships, before they take an unexpected detour into hip-hop for a while -- and that's hip-hop, not dancehall. It's well done, but still the type of thing that will have you wondering if someone's been messing with your CD player. However, by "Propaganda" they're back where they should be, back with the roots and skanking along in a gentle groove, trading voices. With excellent production -- good bottom in the sound, stirring arrangements, and good performances where the voices, rather than the instruments, stand out -- they do what they do very well. It's impossible to criticize their forays into hip-hop; it's just not the reason people buy Morgan Heritage albums, really. A different EP for those experiments might have been a better idea. They close with a remix of "U've Got Me" (which isn't on the album) featuring Bounty Killer and Sizzla, which brings a strong dancehall edge to roots, a powerful, spare marriage of the past and the present.

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