Junior Murvin

Workin' in the Cornfield

Song Review by

On "Lucifer" Junior Murvin chased down the evil of slavery past, on "Workin' in the Cornfield" he endures the injustice of modern day drudgery. The singer, and his equally hard-working backing vocalists, captures the back-breaking toil of farm work, the heat beating one down and the sweat dripping and streaming off one's body, and all for a measly weekly wage. The beatings may have ended and the chains that held people forcefully in the fields a thing of the past, but even though one can no longer be legally bought or sold, on the land little else has changed, and what remains is the daily grind of endless, exhausting labor, endured only by meditation.

Producer Lee Perry creates a musical milieu as oppressive as Murvin's heavy-hearted lyrics, a thick, claustrophobic atmosphere that closes in on the listener. The bass line heaves its ponderous weight across the grooves, plowing the groove before him, the brass bears down on one's head, while the phased guitar solos are as searing as the sun. The whole arrangement presses in on the listener, almost overbearing when the backing singers mournfully join in, and only Murvin stands firm against the pressure.

Roots rockers at its most oppressive, this cultural classic was one of the many masterpieces included on Murvin's Police and Thieves album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Police & Thieves 1977 Mango 3:46