Josey Wales

No Way No Better than Yard

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    9
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Josey Wales scored his first hit with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes, and more followed, with most gathered up on his debut album, Outlaw. Backed by the Roots Radics' superb versions of a stream of melody-strewn classics, and enhanced by Lawes' dubby, militant production, the DJ arrived in style. However, for his follow-up, Wales was now self-confident enough to strike out on his own. Co-producing with the little-known Mickey Pep, No Way Better Than Yard is an amazingly self-assured set. Its predecessor was laced with the Radics' sweetest sounds, with the arrangements conjuring up much of the sparkle of the originals. And even though the High Times Band was also set loose on melody-strewn gems from the past, they laid down much tougher backings than the Radics that in their own way better suited the DJ's own style. Only on the title track does the group slip into more luxurious stylings, but even so, Wales deliberately eschews singing along with the rich melody. Because of this music, "It Have fe Sail" straight into the dancehalls, and the DJ wants to toughen it up yard-style. That number is one of the roughest on the set, and "Eden a Try" the most threatening, as Wales forcefully clarifies just who is the toughest of the tough. Within, he sends the heathen running for cover, "Yu Too Greedy" adamantly tells off a grasping girl, while "Drug Abusing" provides an equally powerful warning. Wales is just as insistent in love, and "The World Is Like a Mirror" is a lesson in resoluteness, with the band laying down a relentless rhythm. But it's the DJ's love for his homeland and its sound systems that blazes across "Yu Wrong fe Send Come Call Me." Faith fires "Jah Jah Move" and the anthemic "Zion Home," the latter an irrepressible standout on a set stuffed with classics. A masterful album that takes the DJ to new heights, with Wales now fully matured into one of the top toasters of the decade.