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Keith Hudson - Torch Of Freedom

Keith Hudson - Torch Of Freedom

Keith Hudson - Torch Of Freedom

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Rare recording re-released on Cherry Red Records latest reggae imprint Hot Milk.

Sampler

Keith Hudson’s “Torch Of Freedom” was originally released in 1975 and now thanks to Cherry Red Records latest reggae imprint Hot Milk this rare recording has been recently re-released.

Keith Hudson - Torch Of FreedomIt’s fair to say that having been untouched and released in its raw and original state the instrumentation and haphazard production does sound dated, but for me that only adds to the charm and makes it more poignant. Indeed when you put it up against the works of Tubby or Perry from that period it probably did sounded dated even then! For back in those days Keith was something of an acquired taste and although as a producer he worked with all the big names and scored some notable hits including Big Youth's biggest ever ‘Ace 90 Skank’, his own work which was often eerie and brooding did not always go down well with the Jamaican public and earned him the moniker of “The Dark Prince of Reggae". However just like many of the great artists and painters it is only since his demise at the age of 38 from lung cancer in 1984 that his work has grown to be fully and rightly appreciated.

If nothing else Hudson will always be remembered as a pioneer. He didn’t follow the crowd but made his music his way and without compromise and although this album, his sixth, is not as great as the classics like “Pick A Dub", "Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood" or "Playing It Cool, Playing It Right” it still shows the unique sound and vision of what Hudson's work as an artist and producer was all about.

It’s a very short album when you consider that there are 13 songs spread a little over 30minutes. It follows the Hudson mantra, which was unusual then but considered the norm now of vocal followed by a version or a dub. It’s the vocal versions on this set that win this time for me for me hands down as the dubs don’t offer more than plain old instrumentals with no addition of effects or trickery just various instruments like guitar, flute, harmonica or as in the case of ‘Teardrops’ what sounds like a steel drum being brought to the fore to replace the vocals. Some might argue with me though, when it features great musicians like Carlton and Family Man Barrett, Earl Chinna Smith, Robbie Shakespeare, Candy McKenzie and The Soul Syndicate Band and say that’s for the best as he wasn’t the strongest of vocalists but his distant, plaintive style just fitted perfectly. Listen to ‘Don’t Look At Me So’, a slice of rough, smokey, bluesy, hot buttered, soulful, funky reggae that if Isaac Hayes had done reggae then this would have surely been what it would have sounded like, makes me tingle just thinking about it. ‘Turn The Heater On’ with its minor key chord changes should warm any ones bones while the album title track is a hard rootsy-rallying cry.

This re-release comes in the original artwork that has been unavailable for many years and with sleeve notes compiled by the well-respected reggae journalist John Masouri whose previous credits include sleeve notes for re-issues of artists such as Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru and Israel Vibration, as well as the books "Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley's Wailers" and "Steppin' Razor: The Life of Peter Tosh”.

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