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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

WILLI WILLIAMS

By Tom Pryor
Published October 13, 2005

Messenger Man
Blood and Fire BAFCD 048

Most folks who recognize Willi Williams know him as the original author of 1979’s “Armagideon Time,” a millennial, fire-and-brimstone Rastafari anthem for Studio One that was later made famous by the Clash. But this “success” was a mixed blessing, giving Williams international name recognition on one hand, and unfairly relegating him to one-hit-wonder status on the other. Luckily, the excellent U.K.-based Blood and Fire label comes to the rescue once again, with this long overdue re-issue of this late ’70s roots reggae masterpiece (although released in 1980, it was three years in the making). Boasting an all-star lineup of backing musicians, including Jackie Mitoo, Carlton “Santa” Davis and George “Fully” Fullwood, Messenger Man is a remarkable, raw document of roots reggae in transition. The Rastafarian messages of “Zion Town,” “Give Jah Praise” and the title track are all lost gems from the roots reggae’s waning ascendancy, while Williams’ cool, understated delivery continues to resonate decades later.