Mikey Dread

Pave the Way

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

Self-produced and featuring an all-star cast of guest musicians, including Rico Rodriguez, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Flabba Holt, Ashante Roy, and the Clash's Paul Simonon, from the opening riff it's clear this is a very special album. Recorded in both Kingston and London, all the musicians' musical loves bleed through. Forget world music and urban contemporary, Pave the Way creates a cosmopolitan sound as relevant in the islands (Jamaica and the U.K.), as on the concrete streets of the U.S. Nothing before or since sounds remotely like it, and more's the pity. "Reggae -- Hit Shot" is a good example, and a killer track. It's reggae all right, but with a disco flair, and strafed by synthetic strings whose melody line highly reminiscent of the Clash's "Straight to Hell." "Roots and Culture" (Dread's theme song for the U.K. TV series Rockers Roadshow, is true to its title, bar its militaristic beat and sultry brass. Every one of Pave the Ways' tracks are equally creative, as Dread blends in unexpected elements, turning genres on their head, pulling down the barriers between them, and pushing the envelop so far, that he's virtually posted himself off to a new musical world entirely. The album also features some of the most innovative electronic sounds of the day (the arcade noises are a particular kick). Even if Dread's nasal vocals are no equal to the likes of Gregory Isaacs or Horace Andy, within the context of the record they work a charm, notably on "Open the Gate," where doo wop collides with the great booming beats and sublime brass. It's evident everyone involved enjoyed the experience, pulling out their best riffs, rhythms, and solos, then sitting back to see what Dread would do with it all. Uniquely, the album really is all things to all people, as satisfying to roots fans as club goers. From rocksteady to roots, reggae to disco, all seething with lashings of dub, Dread invades the entire musical spectrum (even taking on soca), and emerges triumphant with a true masterpiece.

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