Greatest Hits

The Meditations

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Greatest Hits Review

by Nathan Bush

The Meditations are a prime example of the sort of excellent roots harmony trios successful during the second have of the 1970s. Built around the interweaving lines of singers Ansel Cridland, Danny Clarke, and Winston Watson, their potential was made clear by the early singles the group cut for Dobby Dobson at Federal Records, beginning in 1975. Dobson followed up those early works with a debut full-length, Message From the Meditations, in 1976. Three songs from that set are included on Greatest Hits, along with other late-'70s material. From the beginning, the trio had the finest Jamaican sessionmen behind them. Bass players Val Douglas, Boris Gardiner, and Robbie Shakespeare; keyboardists Winston Wright and Earl "Wire" Lindo; and drummer Sly Dunbar were among the various rhythm teams employed for the band's sessions. The interplay between solid bass and drum foundations, bubbling organ lines, and wah-wah guitar rhythms resulted in a sound as rough and rugged as it was fluid. From their early days, Cridland was the principle song writing force in the group, though strong contributions from Clarke and Watson revealed that the Meditations always had more depth than the current selections from their unofficial leader's songbook. Recorded by Lee "Scratch" Perry at a bustling Black Ark, Clarke's "Running From Jamaica" is a highlight. Unfortunately, classic Upsetter singles like "No Peace" and "Think So" are absent, surprising omissions considering Shanachie has gathered a mere ten songs on Greatest Hits. While Heartbeat's Deeper Roots set is a little more comprehensive (adding the Perry titles, as well as songs from Cridland's first group, the Linkers), this is still one of the best introductions to the Mediations.

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