Thursday, 8 August 2019

Michael Prophet - Righteous Are The Conqueror (1980)

Long long tribulation....


Released in 1980

Running time 48.49

This was one of the first albums from Michael Prophet. Released in 1980, it came slightly later than many of the "roots explosion" albums, the peak was 1975-78, but it was a very much in the None Shall Escape The Judgement roots style, featuring a robust, bassy, slow burning pace on most of the tracks and Prophet's distinctive "crying" tenor voice. The album contains a fair amount of pious Rastafarian devotion in its lyrics, although Prophet liked a love song too. Actually, five of its ten songs are love songs. Overall, although it is a credible, genuine slice of roots reggae, the love songs are all played out over a roots backing.

Prophet is a singer as opposed to a "toaster" as well, so the songs are all sung in a more traditional style, with no vocal improvisations. The cover would appear to have been inspired by some of the 1970's Nigerian "hi-life" albums, by Fela Kuti and Tony Allen. Steel Pulse's Handsworth Revolution used a similar style of artwork too.


1. Righteous Are The Conqueror
2. You Are A No Good
3. Long Long Tribulation
4. Conscious Dreadlocks
5. Make Me A Romance
6. Cassandra
7. Originally
8. What Is The Difference
9. Gypsy Woman                                          
10. Happy Days                                                

Righteous Are The Conqueror is a solid roots skank, with a deep bassy beat and a slightly Jacob Miller-style vocal from Prophet. It features a nice, rumbling dubby bass. You Are A No Good is a mid-pace, consistent bassy groove with a convincing vocal. Long Long Tribulation uses the same backing track as the previous song, but this time the lyrics are about the historical struggle of the black man - "black man sufferation...". Although both songs use mostly the same backing, there is something a bit brighter and punchier about this one.

Conscious Dreadlocks is a catchy, appealing number, melodically and vocally. Make Me A Romance is a lighter number, with Prophet delivering a suitably less-charged, romantic vocal. If it wasn't for its chugging roots beat and deep bass it could almost be a lovers rock number. Cassandra is another love song, with some infectious scratching, "cheese grater" percussion sounds. Originally has a pulsating bass line, a vibrant slow burning groove and a heartfelt social message about human rights and oppression. Check out the bass/drum interplay around three minutes in. Proper roots reggae.

What Is The Difference is another romantic rootsy smoocher. Gypsy Woman has Michael all love-up again, over a staccato drum beat and lots of reverb. This is a quirkily attractive song. Lovely bass on it once again, it sort of goes without saying. Happy Days is also in the same vein, very melodic too. In fact, this has been far less of a righteous album than the title would have you believe.