Thursday, 18 April 2019

The Abyssinians - Arise (1978)

  

Released in 1978

Coming right in the middle of the roots reggae boom and the credibility offered to it by its popularity with punk rockers, this second album from the Abyssinians is an excellent offering, one of my favourite roots reggae albums. Like The Mighty Diamonds, Israel Vibration and, to a certain extent, The Gladiators, The Abyssinians managed to combine a rootsy beat, a Rasta devotional message with really melodic, appealing vocals. The tracks are nearly all upbeat and uplifting, like a breath of fresh Caribbean air. Despite the liberal sprinkling of Rasta consciousness, this is certainly no gruff, preachy, doom-laden album of warning. It is an optimistic album and highly enjoyable. The group pushed aside a few boundaries - more power to them for it.

TRACK LISTING

1. Oh Lord
2. This Land Is For Everyone
3. The Mightiest Of All
4. Meditation
5. Wicked Man
6. Jah Loves
7. Dem A Come
8. South African Enlistment
9. Hey You
10. Let My Days Be Long

"Oh Lord" is a delicious opener, with an infectious bass line and lovely vocal. It has a great "Catch A Fire"-style guitar solo too and some impressive organ. This track skanks beautifully. "This Land Is For Everyone" is also a catchy, melodic delight, full of great vocals and a fetching rhythm. This is not a track that would please the hard-core roots aficionados, but for me it shows a willingness on the part of the group to produce a different style of roots. "The Mightiest Of All" is an insistent, deeply attractive groover. "Meditation" is a gloriously enjoyable number. Lovely bass and guitar interplay. It almost gets into a sort of soulful/jazzy guitar-driven groove at times. A most impressive and slightly different roots reggae track.

"Wicked Man" is the first overtly "fire and brimstone" number but still manages to retain that irresistible, tuneful sound. "Jah Loves" is upbeat, lively, harmonious and in possession of some sublime, crystal clear cymbal sounds, as well as a winning bass line. It has a feel of Third World about it. That whole airy, breezy jazzy ambience. There is something a bit dance/disco underpinning it. Just a great song, I have to say. That same vibe continues on the sensual, rhythmic "Dem A Come".

"South African Enlistment" has a lilting, vaguely South African-sounding guitar sound, a thumping bass and drum sound and some excellent vocals once more. "Hey You" is vocally perfect and has a really impressive guitar skank to it too. "Let My Days Be Long" has an almost sixties-sounding bluesy soulfulness to it and some punchy horns and strong female backing vocals. Make no mistake, this is an excellent roots reggae album and one of the genre's most enjoyable offerings. The dub cuts on the extended version are good too, not just all bass and drums, but still using vocals in places and other instruments, such as the flute on "This Land Is For Everyone". "Wicked Men" has some killer bass too. Highly recommended. Well remastered too.

B+

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