Jack Radics

Open Rebuke

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One of the more intriguing vocalists to emerge from the '80s dancehalls, Jack Radics initially established his reputation with lovers numbers but, once the scene shifted, he proved equally adept at penning potent cultural material. Open Rebuke is arguably the apex of his work, at least on album, and takes its title from the Proverbs verse that open rebuke is better than a secret love. Radics' reading is literal, and thus he eschews relationships altogether, while a number of songs are precisely what the title suggests. Naturally, this includes the title track itself, on which he adamantly declares, "It is my business as your brethren to show you if you're going astray," and he proceeds to do just that. "Live Fast, Die Young" is intended as a word of warning, but so anthemic is the chorus that the young gunslingers inevitably chose to hear it as a glorification of their culture. "Step 'Cross the Border" and "Purify" are lessons in righteousness, while other songs are devotional offerings, with David's paean to Solomon's reign and God's glories brought to musical life on "Psalm 72." Two of the most inspired songs, "Let My People Go" and "Puppet Master at Play," pair Radics with Kulcha Knox and Yami Bolo, respectively. On the former, the singer recounts the children of Israel's enslavement in Egypt, while the DJ's rapid-fire rap moves the song into the present day and personal sphere. "Puppet" is an equally impassioned cry against injustice, but musically moves out of the dancehalls and into a smoky, brooding blues environment, with a rhythm seemingly inspired by "Town Without Pity." Although recorded at a number of Jamaican studios, Open Rebuke producer Richard Bell creates a sharply coherent whole. The album boasts phenomenal rhythms from the likes of Sly & Robbie, Mafia & Fluxy, and the Firehouse Crew; Chico Chin, Dean Fraser, and Dave Madden's horns steam up the songs; and Sharon Forrester and Pam Hall are among the sumptuous backing singers. This is culture at its best from one of Jamaica's most unique vocalists.

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