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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Junior Delgado

By Matt Scheiner
Published December 15, 2006

Son Of Slaves

A fundamental problem with reggae is that its traditional musicians sometimes stray from their roots. True roots reggae is elevated by natural sounds and cool rhythms, rather than trodden down by the ugliness of drum machines and keyboards. While Junior Delgado (1954-2005) began his career as a true roots messenger, Son Of Slaves chronicles the constantly changing elements of his reggae, from its humble beginnings, to its overproduced, synthetic latter days. Delgado’s distinct, sometimes out-of-tune growl can be hard to digest. Yet, it was his unique voice, political affirmations and militant delivery that distinguished him, and ultimately led to his stardom. Highlights on Son Of Slaves include “Mi Nuh Matta,” the Lee “Scratch” Perry produced “Son Of Slaves (12” version),” and “The Raiders (12” version).” But the album turns sour as “Born To Be Wild” and “Gimme Your Love” kick in, with the rhythmic chuck of guitars replaced by the unnatural sounds of synthesizers. “Hypo” and “Mr. Fix It,” while still afflicted by a more contemporary sound, are at least palatable with smooth horns and sweet grooves.