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African Roots

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Album Review

Michael Rose has been a stalwart of the roots reggae scene since his early days as a solo artist recording with producer Niney the Observer in the 1970s; he hit his commercial and artistic peak as lead singer for Black Uhuru during that band's most productive period, but his subsequent solo work has been quite respectable as well (if uneven). African Roots finds him on M Records, a label that has previously served as the exclusive home to Twilight Circus Dub Sound System, the one-man dub band otherwise known as Legendary Pink Dots bassist Ryan Moore. The combination of Rose's powerful vocals and Moore's dark, dubwise production turns out to be a perfect fit, and with sidemen like percussionists Scully Sims and Norman Grant (of the Twinkle Brothers), drummer Style Scott (of Dub Syndicate), trombonist Vin Gordon, and Chinna Smith on guitar, it would be a shock if the album were less than spectacular. And, in fact, it very rarely falls below that standard — Rose sounds invigorated by the powerful rhythms he's given to work with, and even if his lyrics don't range very far afield from the usual "stepping out of Babylon," "Better must come," "Nah go a no burial" tropes, he manages to make even the most tired lyrical ideas sound fresh and heavyweight. The Manasseh remix of "No Burial" that closes the album is a particular highlight. Recommended.


Born: 11 July 1957 in Waterhouse, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of Jamaica's most distinguished singers, as a member of Black Uhuru Michael Rose was one of the foundation stones of the roots movement, before launching a successful career in the modern dancehalls. His work with Uhuru helped bring the group a Grammy, while his distinctive vocals launched an entire musical style -- the Waterhouse sound. The Kingston neighborhood of Waterhouse is where Rose was born, on July 11, 1957. There, Rose grew up with a love of music, and began his career when barely...
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African Roots, Michael Rose
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