Junior Murvin

Police & Thieves

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This is one of those albums that winds up on just about every list of essential reggae recordings, and with good reason. Like Max Romeo's War Ina Babylon (which is equally essential, and can be considered a companion to this one), it was recorded under the auspices of Lee "Scratch" Perry at his legendary Black Ark studio, and is saturated with Perry's trademark dense, murky sound. Junior Murvin sings in a fierce and beautiful falsetto, a voice which lends a unique weight to such dark masterpieces as "Lucifer," "Roots Train," and the title track (which was later recorded by the Clash). Perry surrounds Murvin's voice with great washes of echo and reverb and keeps the tempos slow and intense, giving the album an almost Biblical feel. Ignore the goofy album art on some issues -- there is nothing lighthearted about any of these songs, nor is there a single wrong note or misplaced effect. There may be eight or ten perfect reggae albums in existence, and this is certainly one of them.

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