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Rasta Philosophy

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Album Review

Two years had passed since Give Me Power!, and this time the Itals returned to more familiar waters; there's not a single militant or society number in sight. But those types of cultural concerns seemed a bit of a stretch for Keith Porter, whose forte remains deeply felt and reasoned religious numbers.

Half of Rasta Philosophy revolves around such devotional pieces and contains inspired songs that echo Psalms in their phrasing and intent. Amongst these, arguably the title track is the standout, a truly inspired and inspiring number. The arrangement there is stately roots, the soulful "Don't Blame It on Me" is a slow scorcher, the equally heartfelt hymn "No Call Dread Name" boasts a more insistent rhythm, while the gorgeous and plaintive "Satisfaction" harkens back to the rocksteady age. Yet Porter is equally determined to showcase his lighter side, and the breezy "Dance a Yard" and the rub-a-dub "Jamaican Style & Dub" are both dance-friendly, lighthearted tracks sure to set toes tapping. There's also a number for the ladies, the romantic "My Woman," although even here Porter laces his declarations of love with a few complaints. All told, Rasta Philosophy is a stellar album, with the Jah's Children Band providing superb accompaniment abetted by the always excellent Roots Radics. The only possible complaint is that the set will leave the listener hungry for more, and at a mere seven courses, this is a fairly parsimonious banquet.

Biography

Formed: 1975

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s, '90s

One of Jamaica's signature harmony groups, the Itals were chiefly responsible for keeping the sound and spirit of roots reggae alive well into the dancehall era. They didn't get as much attention as other great vocal trios from the roots era (Culture, the Mighty Diamonds, the Wailing Souls, etc.), partly because their '70s releases were confined to 45-rpm singles. When they finally made the leap to LPs in the '80s, they attracted highly positive notices from many reggae aficionados, even despite...
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Rasta Philosophy, The Itals
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