Reggae and Dub

Prince Jazzbo “Ital Corner” (Clocktower, 1977)

R-648399-1236881143.jpegApparently an “Ital Corner” refers to where people live good today. This later Black Ark dub release is about high life (with low end) or living on the bottom in equal parts, but either way Prince Jazzbo is the vocal guide for the job.

Lee “Scratch” Perry is house engineer here, backed up by his Upsetters, and Prince happens to be a great subject for his producer foil. “Ital Corner” opens with an expansive self-titled track, and it becomes clear that this won’t be another wacky trip through the Blackboard Jungle… These tracks are low and cool and keep that way, utilizing few of the jarring tricks that Lee is known for pulling (pop-goes-the-weasel-horns, police sirens, rough mixing).

A ray of sunshine at the end of side one describes what to do at the Ital Corner… “You gotta live good for today,” Prince says, “justice, equality, humanity ev-er-y-day.” Fans of Upsetters need apply, and those put off by his production in the past? Turn the corner, live good today. -Wade

Peter Tosh “Legalize It” (Virgin, 1976)

PeterTosh-LegalizeItMore than Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, it was Peter Tosh who gave the Wailers their harder edge and roots credibility on famous tracks like “400 Years,” “One Foundation,” as well as his work on “Get Up, Stand Up.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that Tosh took on all comers in his solo career, as well, with “Legalize It” and “Equal Rights” being two of the most militant offerings this side of Burning Spear’s “Marcus Garvey.”

On “Legalize It,” Tosh’s roots sensibilities are sharp, with beautiful rastafarian numbers like “Let Jah Be Praised” mixed well with his all out assaults on the government’s anti-herb policies, (“Legalize It”) and self pity and fear (“Why Must I Cry,” “No Sympathy”).

The album’s tour de force is Tosh himself, and his voice- a rough and ready, gritty tenor that in no way weraks of complacency; it strikes a deep, resonant chord- that of fear- but can also at moments, like on “Let Jah Be Praised,” be almost soothing and re-assuring. This LP is a must have in any respectable reggae collection, and is one of reggae’s shining moments and brilliant debuts. -Sean