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Straight to Inglan's Head - An Introduction to Linton Kwesi Johnson

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Album Review

This single-disc, 13-song compilation is taken from Linton Kwesi Johnson's four 1979-1984 Island albums — the same body of material, as it happens, that was the foundation of the far more extensive two-CD 1998 collection Independant Intavenshan: The Island Anthology. So the previous compilation is a sounder investment if you're heavily into the man, particularly as it has all but two of the tracks ("Action Line" and "Straight to Madray's Head," both of which are instrumentals) on Straight to Inglan's Head, and includes a good number of more dub-oriented selections. But this shallower scoop still does a decent job of presenting highlights of Johnson's Island catalog to listeners not inclined to spend so much time or money. Some of his most forceful works are here, like "Di Black Petty Booshwah," "Inglan Is a Bitch," "Time Come," "Sonny's Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem)," and "Reggae Fi Peach." All of these reflect various sociopolitical features of the Jamaican-English experience, and in "Wat About Di Workin' Claas?," the commentary is more universal, set to perhaps his most accessible backing track, with its toe-tapping jazz-reggae groove. But "Loraine" proves Johnson could wax romantic, as well, almost as a hip Barry White. The musical backings are also admirably varied in their liberal injections of ska and dub, and the largely spoken "New Crass Massahkah" puts Johnson's pure poetry skills to the fore. It's odd, though, that a disc purporting to serve as the intro to a performer known primarily as a poet chooses to lead off with a purely instrumental track, "Action Line."


Born: 24 August 1952 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

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

Although he has only released one album of new material in the last ten years, and virtually retired from the live stage after his 1985 tour, Linton Kwesi Johnson remains a towering figure in reggae music. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in the Brixton section of London, Johnson invented dub poetry, a type of toasting descended from the DJ stylings of U-Roy and I-Roy. But whereas toasting tended to be hyperkinetic and given to fits of braggadocio, Johnson's poetry (which is what it was -- he...
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Straight to Inglan's Head - An Introduction to Linton Kwesi Johnson, Linton Kwesi Johnson
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  • 7,99 €
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, World, Caribbean
  • Released: 01 January 2003

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