A Selected Discography
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11
Written by Douglas Heselgrave
In addition to being one of the hardest touring bands in the music business, Burning Spear rivals artists such as Prince, Frank Zappa, and Van Morrison for sheer volume of studio output. For those just beginning to delve into his work, trying to select from Burning Spearís back catalogue can be a little daunting. Here are a few of my personal favorites in no particular order:
Man in the Hills/Dry and Heavy
This two-fer ó two albums on one CD ó is certainly the best bargain in Burning Spearís catalogue. Featuring two classic albums from the seventies, Man in the Hills/Dry and Heavy is Winston Rodney at his early best. Throw Down Your Arms and Man in the Hills are just two of the highlights on this disc. Spearís trance-vocal style is in its developmental stages, and the horns and multi-layered dub tracks are years ahead of their time.
Purchase Man in the Hills/Dry and Heavy: Barnes & Noble
Chant Down Babylon: The Island Anthology
This is the best of the many overviews of Burning Spearís career that are currently available. Chant Down Babylon: The Island Anthology provides samples of most of the classic albums that Spear recorded between the early í70s and the mid-í90s. Highlights include the live version of Jordan River and the solo vocal of Jah No Dead from the Rockers sidetrack. Simply put, The Island Anthology boasts two CDs of timeless music.
Purchase Chant Down Babylon: The Island Anthology: Barnes & Noble
Jah Kingdom is Burning Spearís strongest CD from the early í90s, which was a very prolific period for him. The album features some of the best horn work ever performed by the Burning Brass. The interplay of sax, trombone, and trumpet is breathtaking. Standout tracks include Jah Kingdom and Thank You, the latter of which has one of the most hypnotic dub vocal, horn, drum, and bass call-and-response exchanges ever recorded.
Purchase Jah Kingdom: Barnes & Noble
In recording Calling Rastafari, which was released in 1999, Burning Spear assembled a new band of young musicians. The playing is energetic, and the songs are outstanding. As It Is is the closest to a musical autobiography that he ever recorded, and its "Does anyone remember Burning Spear?" chorus weaves between descriptions of the early days in rural Jamaica. Letís Move, with its crunching guitar and wailing horns, is latter day Burning Spear at his best.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box