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Police & Thieves

Junior Murvin

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Album Review

This is one of those albums that winds up on just about every list of essential reggae recordings, and with good reason. Like Max Romeo's War Ina Babylon (which is equally essential, and can be considered a companion to this one), it was recorded under the auspices of Lee "Scratch" Perry at his legendary Black Ark studio, and is saturated with Perry's trademark dense, murky sound. Murvin sings in a fierce and beautiful falsetto, a voice that lends a unique weight to such dark masterpieces as "Lucifer," "Roots Train," and the title track (which was later recorded by the Clash). Perry surrounds Murvin's voice with great washes of echo and reverb and keeps the tempos slow and intense, giving the album an almost Biblical feel. Ignore the goofy album art on the CD reissue — there is nothing lighthearted about any of these songs, nor is there a single wrong note or misplaced effect. There may be eight or ten perfect reggae albums in existence, and this is certainly one of them. [The 2003 reissue of Police & Thieves adds expanded liner notes, photos, and five tracks to the original running order. "Childhood Sweetheart" and a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready, " retitled here "Rasta Get Ready," are previously unreleased. "Memories" is the B-side of the "Police & Thieves" single. Also included are extended mixes of "Bad Weed" and "Roots Train," which features additional vocals by Dillinger.]

Biography

Born: 1949 in Port Antonio, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Best known for his all-time classic "Police and Thieves," Junior Murvin was gifted with a unique, feather-light falsetto that inspired some of Lee "Scratch" Perry's most unearthly productions. Murvin wasn't exactly the most prolific reggae star of the late '70s, yet such is the stature of "Police and Thieves" and its accompanying album of the same name that Murvin would still be a legend...
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Police & Thieves, Junior Murvin
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