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Great Jah Jah

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Album Review

Naming themselves after the Judean city and valley, Jezzreel, the duo of Clive Davis and Christopher Harvey, left a sparse musical canon in their wake exclusively for the Wackies label, but a gorgeous one nonetheless. Besides releasing a number of singles, the pair appeared on several of the label's compilations, and also provided backing vocals for the stable's other singers, notably Sugar Minott. In 1980, Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes took Jezzreel into his Wackies studio, and with Jah Scotty' Reckless Breed providing the incendiary backings, recorded the pair's six-song Showcase set, which has now been reissued on CD as Great Jah Jah. Powerful, emotive vocalists, beautiful harmonizers, and as shown on "Roman Soldiers," also capable of a scintillating, sermonizing toast, Jezzreel are indeed showcased to their best here. "Love of My Life" sets the stage, as the duo bring Jah's love to the brothers and sisters in a flood of soulful lead vocals and warm, sweet harmonies.

That love was desperately needed in the bloody aftermath of the Jamaican election earlier that year, leading the pair to emotively enquire "Where Is That Love." Delivered in doo wop style and backed by an effervescent rocksteady flavored backing that's filled with twittering birds and ravishing keyboards, the song's yearning for the past is palatable. And that includes the militant roots rockers era then drawing to a close, which both "Roman Soldiers" and "Living in the Ghetto" vividly evoke. The latter is a soulful sufferer's song, the former pushes into steppers territory, with its pure roots and culture theme twinning past and present injustice. More upbeat is the blues-licked"Sun Will Shine" and the exultant title track, both exalting Jah and his glory.

Jezzreel are triumphant on every number within this stellar set, Reckless Breed sensational, while Barnes and co-engineer Prince Douglas complete the blueprint for all their future work, evident as the vocals give way to the extended mix instrumental dubs. No flashy footwork here, as Barnes and Prince Douglas expand on the riddims, fine-tune the rhythms, and mesmerize listeners by swapping in and out the instruments and melody lines. Incidentally, "Roman Soldiers" and "Ghetto" would reappear in fuller dub form on the Natures Dub album, the former as the sizzling title track, the latter as the indeed "Kicking Scott." A stunning set that thankfully is now available to fans once again.

Great Jah Jah, Jezzreel
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  • 5,99 €
  • Genres: Reggae, Music
  • Released: 30 June 2006

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