Friday, 31 May 2019

Peter Tosh - Wanted Dread & Alive (1981)



Released in 1981

After a most agreeable, poppy but righteous album in 1979's "Mystic Man", Peter Tosh entered the new decade with another offering that mixed a militant anger with an innate, instinctive ear for a hook and a melody. This was the final of the three albums Tosh recorded for The Rolling Stones' record label.


1. Coming In Hot
2. Nothing But Love
3. Reggaemylitis
4. Rok with Me
5. Oh Bumbo Klaat
6. Wanted Dread And Alive
7. Rastafari Is
8. Guide Me From My Friends
9. Fools Die (For Want Of Wisdom)            

"Coming In Hot" is a deeper, rootsier groove than anything on the previous album. "Nothing But Love" finds Tosh duetting with disco soulstress Gwen Guthrie on a soul-influenced smooth number, full of sweet horns and a laid-back lush slow disco beat. It is far more disco/soul than it is reggae. "Reggaemylitis" is a rootsy slow skank, with some deep bass and appealing saxophone enhancements. Tosh is often quite humorous in his songs and here he is claiming to have "reggaemylitis" affecting all his internal organs. "Rok with Me" is a typical-sounding Tosh number, full of intoxicating rhythm and a great vocal. It is an excellent, summer-sounding song. A bit Aswad-like.

"Oh Bumbo Klaat" utilises the common patois form of abuse to point the finger at someone who is to blame. Once again, though, the anger is diluted by the delicious melody and vibe of the song and Tosh's moving, evocative voice. "Wanted Dread Or Alive" has some delicious keyboard riffery lurking under its one-drop backbeat and lyrically it revisits the old "I Shot The Sheriff" theme. They're all out to get Peter, those "evil forces". "Rastafari Is" is the first blatantly Rastafarian devotional piece of praise, unsurprisingly, it features traditional Rastafarian drumming.

"Guide Me From My Friends" is a keyboard and bass-driven slow burner. "Fools Die (For Want Of Wisdom)" is a complete departure from the reggae of the rest of the album. It is Tosh singing gently over a keyboard and flute backing about those whom he perceives to have a lack of wisdom. Every now and again Tosh would do a non-reggae song. This one lasts seven minutes plus, which was actually quite unusual.

The original Jamaican and US releases contained the typical Tosh fare of "The Poor Man Feel It", the dubby mysterious skank of "Cold Blood" and "That's What They Will Do" instead of "Rok With Me", "Oh Bumbo Klaat" and "Guide Me From My Friends". Assessing both permutations, I feel the Jamaican version is the slightly more rootsy of the two. The best thing to do is get hold of the modern edition which contains all of them, of course.


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