Peter Tosh

Wanted Dread & Alive

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Peter Tosh's final album for the Glimmer Twins' imprint label found him continuing to relish his image of urban bandit, as the Wild West-style wanted-poster graphics aptly illustrate. So does the slinky title track, which comes off as a downmarket "I Shot the Sheriff," yet done with panache. "Coming in Hot" is a classic statement of intent, while "Nothing But Love" is an inspired pop-reggae crossover affair that marks one of the few times he ever shared the mike with someone else. "The Poor Man Feel It" and "Cold Blood" retread Tosh's statutory pessimism and scorn toward the political landscape. The former song is crippled by a numbingly obvious hook that wouldn't give Bob Dylan sleepless nights ("gotta find a solution to all the pollution"), though its heartfelt compassion shines through. "Reggae-Mylitis," on the other hand, reads like a clunky roots response to "Boogie Fever," but is good, mindless fun (not a word often associated with Tosh). The longer tracks provide the most compelling moments. "Rastafari Is" would be a deadly dull roots religious lecture without the mantra-like hand percussion, organ, and lead guitar lines bobbing and weaving throughout its six minutes. "That's What They Will Do" fires a shot across the bow at people whom Tosh feels have betrayed him, with lead guitarist Darryl Thompson firing off some spiffy countrified licks. "Fools Die" is the biggest surprise, bearing little relation to Tosh's recorded output. The track builds on a simple pad of acoustic guitar and electric piano, while Pee-Wee improvises soaring flute lines behind an impassioned Tosh plea for humanity to clean up its act. It's a daring departure and an impressive mood piece; such gestures would have gone a long way elsewhere, too. There's a nagging sense of little new ground being broken, which won't bother the diehards; they're the ones who keep stuff like this in print, after all.

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