Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83 - From Nyabinghi, Burro and Grounation to Roots and Revelation
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Soul Jazz Records' new album Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83 charts the many links between reggae music and the Rastafarian faith.
Featuring the music of Count Ossie, Johnny Clarke, The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus, Bongo Herman, Roy Ashanti (Congos), Earth & Stone, Mutabaruka and many more, this is an in-depth look at some of the most unique and righteous music ever made and comes complete with a 40+ page outsize booklet, containing exclusive photography and extensive historical and contextual sleevenotes.
At the source of the music of Rastafari is the figurehead master drummer and leader Count Ossie, who first brought the deeply spiritual nyabinghi and burro rhythms, heard and played at sacred Rastafarian grounation (reasoning) sessions, into popular Jamaican music through his many collaborations and performances with artists - from The Skatalites to The Folks Brothers - and producers, including Clement Dodd, Prince Buster and Harry Mudie.
At the start of the 1970s Count Ossie formed the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari with saxophonist Cedric Brooks, which immediately became the most significant group of the Rastafari faith, bringing together authentic rasta nyabinghi drumming together with spiritual and avant-garde jazz influences of Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler into a truly unique and groundbreaking sound.
From the earliest proto-rasta beginnings on vinyl, Lord Lebby's 1955 mento recording 'Etheopia', through to the raw, afro-jazz roots sounds of Count Ossie to the deep and heavy roots reggae of the 1970s (Johnny Clarke, Earth & Sound, Roy Ashanti of the Congos and others), this album covers nearly 30 years of revolutionary music.
This album comes in three separate formats: Deluxe CD with slipcase and 40-page outsize booklet, deluxe limited-edition heavyweight gatefold-vinyl edition + free download code (with full sleeve notes etc.) and as a worldwide digital release.
Top customer reviews
This CD has two wonderful aspects. One is the large selection of fairly rare examples of nyabinghi drumming in reggae music. This music is a particular favorite of mine, though I must admit I can only take Count Ossie's lectures in small doses. The second is the linear notes which though not very original are quite pithily written and contain an intelligent and sympathetic overview of Rastafarianism. The notes are very indebted to Lee's book; I found Lee's book informative but disliked her European style of biography. The style of biography she used injects her personality into the narrative too much for my taste and couched controversial statements in conditional clauses. This is my round about way of suggesting that unless you have a real fetish for this material these linear notes may serve you as well as Lee's book.
The songs are in general fairly rare and quite nice. The collection even included a mento song Ethiopia from 1955! This CD set was a rarity for me, a project where I enjoyed the music and the notes. Quite wonderful more than educational this is pleasurable learning.
Some of the highlights IMO include "Betta Must Come", "A Ju Ju Wa", Jah Will Cut You Down".
Having said that, the collection of music and documentation with it (perfect for LP size) is great and it is absolutely worth buying in a format that is playable!