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Edi Fitzroy

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Album Review

Edi Fitzroy first came to attention with a series of hits under the aegis of producer Mikey Dread at the beginning of the '80s. Although the DJ was never to achieve the breakout success of the likes of Sugar Minott or the late Garnett Silk, he is a gifted cultural performer who recorded a number of crucial albums, Eclipse among them. Accompanied by a Sunsplash Festival's worth of musicians, and with the rhythms overseen by Sly Dunbar, this is one sharp-sounding album. At its core it's a rootsy dancehall offering, but there's a subtle diversity of sound and mood unusual for its time. Dunbar's rhythms are a revelation — pulsing, pounding, stirring, and driving — and on most of the tracks he also supplies a supple bass. The rest of the band adds the flourishes which are the building blocks for the song's moods. Like the best revolutionaries, Fitzroy demands listeners' attention by his impassioned delivery and his words' inherent ring of truthfulness. His performance, swinging from a crisp chant to clipped sonorous singing, has a clarity of vision and vocalization. Several of the tracks are anthemic singalongs, notably "Shout It Loud" and "Stand on Your Feet," the latter a forceful confirmation of people power, à la "Get Up, Stand Up." The sufferer's numbers are just as strong, and even more poignant. However, Fitzroy isn't willing to suffer in silence, and the most powerful tracks are the ones where he vociferously attacks injustice, as on the scathing "Mr. Top Rank." And then there's his cover of "Hotel California," so ominous that it suggests he took a wrong turn and checked into the Bates Motel by mistake. In all, it's a stunning album from a seminal talent.

Eclipse, Edi Fitzroy
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