Monday, 24 June 2019

Michael Prophet - Michael Prophet (1981)

Hold on to what you got....


Released in 1981

The first few albums from roots reggae artist Michael Prophet were pretty standard roots fare of which had been pretty ubiquitous from 1976-81. It was the sound of Notting Hill Carnival in those years, of the music played on sound systems before punk gigs and of the while punky reggae crossover/ party thing. Michael Prophet's music was released at the back end of the roots boom, just before ragga rhythms appeared and the digitalisation of reggae took over. This is still played on "proper" instruments and has that authentic roots vibe, down to the Rasta themes and slightly wailing voice. Prophet's voice is sort of Jacob Miller meets Gregory Isaacs in tone, without the sweetness of the latter.


1. Hold On To What You Got
2. Guide And Protect You
3. Youthman
4. Gunman
5. Turn Them Round
6. Up Side Down
7. Love And Unity
8. Never Leave Me Lonely
9. Help Them Please
10. Sweet Loving                                        

Hold On To What You Got is a mid-pace gentle roots skank, with those familiar jangly reverberating guitar bits and Prophet's high-ish voice rising high above the beat. Guide And Protect You is a righteous, Rastafarian-themed number. Youthman features a nice, deep, melodic bass grumbling line and a light, Gregory Isaacs-influenced vocal. Gunman is probably Prophet's most famous track - a horn-driven, bassy, solid thump of a track with a catchy melody and a pertinent lyric about gun crime.

Turn Them Round has a huge staccato gunshot-style drum beat that makes you jump out of your skin. Up Side Down features some nice brass and a catchy melody. Love And Unity is a yearning, sonorous, deeply bassy number. Never Leave Me Lonely is a fetching horns and bass-powered love song. Help Them Please is a return to asking Jah for help over a muscular, typical roots beat. The album ends with one of its poppiest cuts, the lovers rock-ish groove of Sweet Loving. It has an excellent saxophone interjection in it.

This is a standard roots reggae album of its era sonically, however, lyrically it is a nice enough mix of love songs, warnings about crime and Rasta material. It is not totally dominated by "Jah and righteousness" lyrics, and has a variety of themes. It is perfectly ok, but not an album I turn to too often if I'm honest, I tend to have several Michael Prophet songs dotted around in "punky reggae party" and "roots reggae" playlists.


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