Thursday, 30 May 2019

Peter Tosh - Mystic Man (1979)

The day the dollar die....

  

Released in 1979

This is one of my favourite Peter Tosh albums. It perfectly encapsulates his unique brand of melodic militancy. However righteous he gets over a number of subjects he does so against an addictive, tuneful rhythmic skank of a backing that just puts a smile on your face. Some have said that Tosh's militancy was why he didn't make it like his old mate Bob Marley did, overlooking the fact that Marley's 1978 album, "Survival", was, if anything, more full of political conviction and message than this one. Quite why Tosh didn't become more than a cult-ish acquired taste was a bit of a mystery.

It is nice to see him smiling as he unicycles on the back cover, as his expression was normally serious.

TRACK LISTING

1. Mystic Man
2. Recruiting Soldiers
3. Can't You See
4. Jah Say No
5. Fight On
6. Buk-In-Hamm Palace
7. The Day The Dollar Die
8. Crystal Ball
9. Rumours Of War                                          

"Mystic Man" has Peter telling us how he is indeed a mystic man and he doesn't eat frankfurters ("garbage"), or hamburgers, or drink green soda pop. Most righteous, but I enjoy a frankfurter! Sorry Peter. "Recruiting Soldiers" is a wonderfully melodic skank, yes it is pious but it is so catchy too, with some saxophone in it too. The lilting of it shows just how much South African reggae star Lucky Dube was influenced by Tosh. I love this. Love it. Tosh's voice is just so evocative and the whole thing is just great. Similarly impressive is the guitar-driven groove of "Can't You See", enriched by some excellent percussion and backing vocals.


"Jah Say No" continues the trend of presenting Rasta conscious, devotional songs in a most endearing, catchy reggae style. "Fight On" confronts the evils of South African apartheid face to face - freedom, no compromise. "Buk-In-Hamm Palace" is an amusing piece of disco/reggae concerning Tosh imagining himself smoking ganga in The Queen's residence. Musically, it is an interesting merger of the two styles and one that was rarely attempted. At times it has some very Euro-disco keyboards. Check out those disco horns too. This should have been a dancefloor hit.

"The Day The Dollar Die" is a superb track, full of relevance and cutting comment over a rootsy rhythm. "Crystal Ball" is a return to the upbeat groove of the sort that inspired Lucky Dube - all skanking guitars and female backing vocals. "Rumours Of War" is another rootsy number lightened by its innate melody and backing vocals.

This album is a pleasure from beginning to end. If you want to dip into the music of this underrated and sadly missed reggae artist, you can't go far wrong here.

B+

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