Burning Spear

Marcus Garvey

Song Review by

In 1975, Burning Spear severed their relationship with producer Coxsone Dodd and linked up with Jack Ruby. Ruby owned the Ochos Rios sound system, and Spear's first cut, "Marcus Garvey," was intended exclusively for system play. Winston Rodney was born in St. Ann's Bay, also home to Garvey himself. Founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Society, a pioneering organization in its day, Garvey advocated a program of black self-improvement and repatriation to Africa. An eloquent speaker, his fiery speeches were equalled by his actions, especially in regards in setting up numerous black-run businesses. Although his reputation has faded amongst Afro-Americans, he remains revered in Jamaica, and over time, his words have taken on the aura of prophesy. It is the prophetic Garvey that Spear pays homage to, quoting this great philosopher and leader in a sublime convergence of sufferer's song and call to betterment. In one swoop, the group combines reverence, a melancholy aura, and a militant message, backed by a sublime arrangement that itself punctuates the hope and despair of the song. The public's reaction to "Marcus Garvey" was so overwhelming that Ruby quickly released the song as a single. The song would also title Spear's new album, which appeared later that year.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Marcus Garvey 1975 Palm 3:26
Harder Than the Best 1979 Mango 0:00
Reggae Greats 1984 Mango 3:24
Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost 1990 Universal Distribution 3:27
Reggae Golden Jubilee: Origins of Jamaican Music 2012
Various Artists
VP Records 3:25
Mt. Zion: Music From & Inspired By The Motion Picture 2013
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 3:21
Yardie [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2018
Original Soundtrack
Island / Universal
Reggae: From the MusicVaultz
Various Artists
Universal 3:27