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Jah Is Real by Burning Spear

Jah Is Real by Burning Spear

Jah Is Real by Burning Spear

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His new album is the sound of a living man with work to do.

Sampler

Jah Is Real by Burning SpearWith over 50 albums bearing his name, Burning Spear has never paid more than lip service to the foibles of fashion in his music. But that’s not to say his work hasn’t changed over the years. In contrast to his heavily spiritual, historical and cultural early records new long player Jah Is Real (on his own Burning Music imprint) sees Mr Rodney addressing the big issues facing reggae today in his lyrics from a pragmatic stance.

The question of copyright and to whom it should belong, which has drawn strong feelings from many artists of late, is addressed during Wickedness, where he protests of “our royalties feeding their families”. The Spear has also had some trouble distributing this album in Europe and on Run For Your Life he explains, “the music business is not like before… everyone will soon be selling their own [on the] internet”.

In addition, the necessity of touring as a key source of income in all popular music has resulted in songs about memorable shows: such as his 2006 limited attendance benefit for St Ann’s Bay Infirmary (700 Strong), and playing at sea (The Cruise). Then there are the experimental numbers: One Africa with its Afro-pop beat and female church choir, along with a drum and bass remix of second track Step In. And of course, there are some more traditional Spear topics tackled on the title tune, and the solemn smoky lament You Were Wrong.

The arrangements are predominantly live instrumentation with plenty of brass, the overall sound of the album is punchy and crisp, and Rodney’s voice still sounds in fine form. The relaxed carefree demeanour of some tracks may displease casual fans and purists who like everything sombre and raw, but lines like “My music is a never looking back music” (from No Compromise) suggest the great man knows exactly where he’s going and where he’s from.

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