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Editors’ Notes

Along with combos like The Wailers, The Royals, and The Gladiators, The Wailing Souls were one of a handful of vocal groups that began to make a deliberate lyrical shift toward expressions of political awareness and Rastafarian faith as the ‘70s dawned. Throughout that decade, The Wailing Souls cut many of their most memorable recordings and even made the jump to a major label with 1979’s Wild Suspense. Yet by the dawn of the ‘80s, lush roots productions started to give way to the brutally efficient minimalism of rub-a-dub and early dancehall. While many of the roots-era vocal combos failed to adapt, The Wailing Souls released one of their very finest full-lengths in the form of the Linval Thompson–produced Wailing. This album gains much of its power from the angular, hard-edged accompaniment of the studio band The Roots Radics, as well as from the deep, echo-laden mixing of young King Tubby protégé Scientist. But the real attraction here is in The Wailing Souls' crystalline harmonies; their performances imbue the stark rhythms of songs like “Don’t Be Downhearted” and “Face the Devil” with startling emotional intensity.


Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The consummate roots band, the Wailing Souls may never have gained the international reputation of their compatriots, at least not at the height of the genre's popularity, but they did outlive most of them. Their very survival has been their greatest strength, that and their ability to diversify over time. Today they are one of the most popular live acts around and they continue to release provocative and popular albums. A roots band they may well be, but their history actually stretches back long...
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Wailing, Wailing Souls
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