During his short life, Rastafarian melodica piper Augustus Pablo contributed to some of the most essential albums in the history of reggae and dub. His lingering, exploratory melodies were often the element that solidified a track, making what could have been an average dub mix a classic or giving a voice to the feelings of joy, curiosity, or struggle that flowed through reggae music in its peak moments in the '70s and '80s. Greek Theater, Berkeley 1984 captures Pablo and his band in a particularly fiery live date. The recording quality is raw even when presented here in a cleaned-up form, but the bootleg sound adds character to the album, lo fidelity standing in for the rough-hewn graininess that dubwise production often offers. Over the course of the 11 selections, the band is rock-solid, offering a live, instrumental reggae set that captivates and commands attention on the merit of the band's airtight performances. The use of early synthesizers on album favorites like "East of the River Nile" and the spacy flourishes of "Earth's Rightful Ruler" add an alien quality to the already hazy sounds, resulting in a truly unique reggae set that will stand out to even the most casual listener and delight any die-hard.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas