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Everything Crash - The Best of The Ethiopians

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Album Review

One of the central figures of the transitional period between ska and rocksteady, Leonard Dillon is currently recognized as one of early reggae's most important artists. His band, the Ethiopians, made records that remain essential documents of the period ("Train to Skaville," which is included here, chief among them) and his solo work has been every bit as good. But at the time these songs were recorded, Dillon and the Ethiopians were struggling financially and had to keep day jobs in order to make ends meet. That didn't seem to get in the way of either Dillon's songwriting — every one of these 25 tracks is an original composition — or the trio's ability to sing together in close, sweet harmony. This compilation, which includes tracks recorded over a ten-year period between 1966-1976, includes some of the band's most enduring music. Inevitably, it leads with "Train to Skaville," but some of the best songs on the program are less well-known: "Free Man" harks back to the glory days of ska with its chugging, horn-driven beat and simple but irresistible melodic hook; "Selah" is a slower, smokier groove that anticipates the classic roots reggae sound and draws deeply on the nyabinghi vocal style; and "Solid As a Rock" beautifully bemoans the state of the world while inviting all to come unto the Rastafarian faith. There is no shortage of fine Ethiopians collections on the market, but this one offers a better introduction than most.

Biography

Formed: 1966

Genre: Reggae

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

Essentially a mouthpiece for singer and songwriter Leonard Dillon, the Ethiopians were one of Jamaica's most influential vocal groups during their heyday. Not only did the duo (completed by Stephen Taylor) spearhead the transition between ska and rocksteady, Dillon's heavily Rastafarian lyrics also paved the way for the socially conscious roots reggae era that was to come. Born in Port Antonio in 1942, Dillon grew up in a Christian family and discovered music through their church. Having written...
Full bio
Everything Crash - The Best of The Ethiopians, The Ethiopians
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  • Partial Album
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, Ska
  • Released: 18 November 2002

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