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Mikey Ras Starr - Fire and Rain

Mikey Ras Starr - Fire and Rain

Mikey Ras Starr - Fire and Rain

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After various roots reissues, the French label Makasound comes with a unreleased set from Jamaican singer and musician Haile Maskel aka Mikey Ras Starr.

Sampler

Mikey Ras Starr - Fire and RainMakasound is notable for its eclectic roster of artists - from Winston Mcanuff’s bandhopping experiments through to the surly reggae-rock of FC Apatride Utd. Their reissue programme has also attracted controversy, (the Maka remix of the Slickers' Breakthrough going head to head with Tad's closer-to -intended version for example) and the label’s latest renovation project is bound to attract a bit of flack from purist collectors, never shy about voicing their opinions on how the music, whose flame they’ve been keeping, be presented.

It’s an album (credited as produced in 1979) by roots singer and key bass session man Mikey Ras Starr, with some prominent singles tacked on. Most notable of these sides are the fairly well known and widely reissued 7, 'Got To Say Love', with its iconic descending guitar chords and flourishing keyboard motif, and the much sought after roots giant 'Jah Man Of Calvary' - a pugnacious piece whose downward funk-type bassline marches under a wailing vocal with some taut harmonies, fiery horns and squealing organ licks.

The album itself is a later, more ambiguous creation, the sound of a man turning inwards on himself rather than proclaiming his faith to all comers. It’s experimental, wistful and at times very moving (especially on songs such as 'Old Time Religion' and 'Come Back Sunday Morning', both featuring Ras Starr’s much loved descending bass) and for these reasons it doesn’t hang together particularly well with the 45s, giving the feel of a best of, rather than a unified set. Also, the sound quality is a little barren in places, suggesting that either the master tapes are deteriorated or the original vinyl may have been the source material.

But ultimately this is negated by the sheer quality of some of the music on the disc, particularly 'Jah Man Of Calvary', one of the few ultra rare treasures whose exalted status is entirely deserved. With the original single passing hands for the cost of a small holiday online, many readers will be happy to pay CD prices for such an awe inspiring tune.

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