The World Should Know

Burning Spear

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The World Should Know Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Even though The World Should Know was released on CD, Burning Spear was still thinking in vinyl terms, and thus this album is very much a record of two distinct halves. The first five tracks are pure culture, although the music is anything but pure roots. In fact, the entire album is underpinned by dance beats, either by the programmed drums favored by the discos or the big, booming beats so popular in Jamaican dancehalls. Winston Rodney worked hard to make World sound global, determined that it would go down just as well at home as in foreign climes. A few songs are geared more to island styling, others more to the northern market, but most are a sparkling blend of both, an excellent use of beats, brass, and synths to encompass differing genres within individual songs. Rodney had learned much during his return trip to Island Records, and now put it to use back at his former label, Heartbeat. The five cultural numbers together create a mini-concept album, which moves from the global to the personal. The title track envelops economics, unity, and consciousness, while "In a Time Like Now" specifically addresses the withering effects of the free-market policies that are impoverishing Jamaica and so many other developing countries. "I Stand Strong" and "Identity" discuss Rodney's own personal philosophy, and "It's Not a Crime" covers one of his favorite topics, the importance of loving and educating youth. That latter song resurrects the old kiddie song "I'm a Little Teapot," which the singer had utilized to such devastating effect years ago on "Fire Down Below." The rest of the record is more varied, from a pair of love songs for the ladies to the bouncy celebration of music in "Mi Gi Dem (I Give Them)" and the more ambiguous "On the Inside," which can be read both as a personal relationship number and a broader cultural song, while "Peace" combines a unity theme with a devotional message. World was an exciting change of pace after the more hypnotic Jah Kingdom; bright and bubbly, lush and dance-friendly, the album was proof positive that one could bring culture to the world's dancefloors. Deservedly, it was nominated for a Grammy. [The World Should Know was re-released in 2005 with a bonus DVD.]

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