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Born Dead With Life by Perfect

Born Dead With Life by Perfect

Born Dead With Life by Perfect

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Could this be the best album of 2008?


Perfect - Born Dead With LifeOn paper, (AKA Greg Rose) reads like many a reggae supporter’s dream: a visionary Jamaican artist with a love for roots music and culture. As such, first record Giddimani was a disappointing 45 throw-together, but now the switched on St Ann’s Singjay returns with second effort Born Dead With Life, (for Austrian outfit IrieVibrations) a self-avowed “concept album” whose lumbering bass-lines shore up the massive historical and geographical themes he undertakes.

At the heart of the concept is the spectre of slavery, directly touching the lyrics of nine of the sixteen tracks, and lying dormant behind the rest. The hefty clavinet laden This City claims the world’s capitals were “built on black man bones”. Already it is clear this album’s sentiments will be 100% proof.

However Perfect also knows that the best way to reach people is to place the harshest messages in the most hum-able packages. Hanging Day is a catchy masterpiece in the tradition of Steel Pulse’s historic re-imaginings like Unseen Guest and Ku Klux Klan. The acoustic pop of Unforgivable yields the declaration that Perfect “can’t forgive” the Caucasian race, “barbarians from the caves”, a lyric likely to draw touchy censorious responses from certain quarters – although closer inspection (“from Pastor to President”) reveals that only white authority figures are the focus of his ire.

And though unrepentant roots forms its backbone, there is enough variation and nuance in the running order to stand up to heavy rotation. Smile is a delicate duet with Empress, Love In Your Heart sails close to Studio 1’s Take A Ride, while Unlock bounces along on the ska-shuffling Work Off rhythm. Even hip hop experiments Rasta Dubplate and Da Rendition don’t outstay their welcome – and for a reggae artist this is a rare feat.

Like his spar Chezidek (who guests on the beautiful horn drenched Journey) in 2007, Perfect could well have created the big roots album of 2008. To say it lives up to his name would do Mr Rose a grave disservice, for he may reach even higher heights next time around.

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