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Isiah Mentor: Rasta Government

Isiah Mentor: Rasta Government

Isiah Mentor: Rasta Government

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Roots with rhythm and commitment from Isiah Mentor.


Isiah Mentor (Ian Samuels) was born in Kingston and first made his musical mark in the 1980s when he served his dubplate apprenticeship at King Tubby’s studios under the rather surprising name of Lilly Melody, releasing a series of well-received singles beginning with Ghost Buster in 1986. Now making music which is firmly committed to the timeless sound and spiritual message of roots rather than the digital rhythms of dancehall, Isiah Mentor’s mission and intentions are clear from his chosen name. This release from Village Roots records brings together sixteen tracks, opening with One Love : not the Marley song but another song of peace and love, with vocals up front, subtle bass and guitar instrumentation, some hints of his dub background in the mix, melodic, strictly roots. The understated rhythms are a feature throughout the album, as are the spiritual themes of tracks with titles like Save Mi Now Jah and Show Them Father.

Isiah Mentor - Rasta GovernmentIsiah collaborates with the singjay figure of Turbulence on First Class, a strong melody with a prominent vocal track. The title track Rasta Government, with a straightforward political plea summed up clearly enough in the title, has been played extensively already and it articulates the message of Isiah Mentor. Along with most of the other tracks, its rhythms are more powerful through being understated, and the vocals are strong.

The theme of commitment to change also comes through clearly in War Against the Poor, with its slightly unexpected, though effective, rock guitar solo in the middle. Cry Africa is a tender treatment of the sufferings of the continent, with rhythms and melody that could just as easily be placed within rock or R and B. Fight Fight Fight, Isiah Mentor’s successful single, has a strong message of human rights, some subtle dub influence in the mix, and multi-tracked vocals.
The closing track – Three’s Company – is a good old style male-female collaboration (in this case with Tanya Stephens) at the mainstream end of reggae. It lightens things up nicely at the end of a varied, melodic, committed series of songs.

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