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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

BURNING SPEAR

By Judson Kilpatrick

Resistance
Burning Spear

BURNING SPEAR
Rasta Business
Burning Spear

One of the best Burning Spear albums of the past decade, Rasta Business, has been reissued with new cover art and digital remastering, though it's hard to hear any difference from the 1995 original. Decrying how the Rastafarian culture has been cynically co-opted by marketers, Winston Rodney delivers some of the most powerful "sermons" of his 35-year career, punctuated by horn stabs and delightful percussion flourishes. With the woofer-popping drums and bass driving at a vigorous pace, the singles "Subject In School," "Burning Reggae" and "Not Stupid" are just the beginning -- this one's rock-solid all the way through. 1984's Resistance earned Burning Spear a Grammy nomination, and the newly remastered version boasts the bonus Garvey-esque lament "First Continent" and the uptempo dub "Jah." Recorded at Tuff Gong studios, Resistance offers up a perfect storm of Rodney's teachings over his Burning Band's insistent grooves augmented by the Ras Brass horns. The title track opens the album with a bang, but there are also several relaxed, easy-skanking songs. It's roots reggae with such crisp production it could have been recorded yesterday. Other reissues of note are People Of The World (1986), a long-out-of-print Slash release, and Living Dub Volume Two (1980), a dub version of Hail H.I.M. featuring the Wailers.