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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

MUTABARUKA

By Judson Kilpatrick
Published February 17, 2006

Life Squared
Heartbeat

Not just a dub poet but also an author, actor and radio host, Mutabaruka was most recently in the spotlight for providing the title track to the film Life And Debt. And it's a tribute to his undiminished skills that that song is one of the weakest cuts on his latest full-length album. Employing many of reggae's top session players and background vocalists, including Pam Hall and Marcia Griffiths, Mutabaruka covers a wide range of topics and musical styles here. The first single is a remake of Fats Domino bandleader Dave Bartholomew's "The Monkey," a witty swamp-funk parable that illustrates the folly of much human behavior. Other highlights include "The Confusion Today (Wha A Gwan)"—done to the tune of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"—and "Pele," a touching tribute to Mutabaruka's longtime friend and personal manager. "I Write A Poem" provides a sunny counterpoint to the artist’s classic "Dis Poem," which appears here in a remix by Joe Claussell and Boyd Jarvis. Their deep-house effort emulates but does not surpass the version Bobby Konders did over a decade ago.