Pato Banton

Never Give In

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Pato Banton had been kicking around the U.K. scene for years before he finally recorded this, his debut album, and one wonders why it took so long. Like the best toasters, the DJ has a quick wit and is an entertaining mimic -- his imitations of his mother are worthy of a standup comic. She is essential to several of his songs, many of which are semiautobiographical, like the hilarious "Hello Tosh" (which doesn't refer to Peter, but the electronics firm Toshiba), and "Don't Sniff Coke." That latter song, the perfect rapped monologue with music which swiftly turned it into a ganja anthem, was of surprisingly little use to the Just Say No brigade. Banton was equally adroit at cultural themes. His mimicry is put to use again on "Handsworth Riot," a tough commentary on the violent events that had recently swept through that rough Birmingham neighborhood, shocking the nation. The DJ pulls no punches on that track, and the anthemic "Never Give In," a sizzling blend of tough roots and rap seared by a screaming guitar, is equally militant. Studio Two's house band provided the strong rhythms that back Banton, heavy roots that echo the edginess of the cultural numbers, but turn upbeat for the more humorous offerings. Steel Pulse guest stars on "Pata & Roger Come Again," an exuberant offering where Ranking Roger finally repays his old mate for guest starring on the Beat's third album. Banton established his reputation with this record, and many of these songs remain live favorites to this day. They've softened with age, but here they are still razor-sharp.

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