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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

COUNT OSSIE AND THE MYSTIC REVELATION OF RASTAFARI

By Michael Stone
Published September 8, 2005

Tales Of Mozambique
Dynamic Sounds

Singer, drummer and Rastafari mystic Count Ossie (Oswald Williams) broke in with his burru drumming on “Oh, Carolina” (1960), converting a traditional mento tune into the ska hit by the Folkes Brothers. But his epic Grounation (1973) and Tales Of Mozambique (1975) represent his most enduring contribution to Jamaican music. Indeed, his work is synonymous with the sound of ska, rock steady and reggae, especially crystallizing the Garveyite back-to-Africa compass of reggae’s most politicized expressions. In the early 1960s a loose group of nyabinghi drummers convened around Ossie in the hills outside Kingston. Joined by members of tenor saxophonist Cedric Brooks’ Mystics band, the resulting Mystic Revelation of Rastafari produced a unique combination of spiritually inspired vocals, hand percussion, horns, organ and bass. Mozambique combines spare chanting-and-drum songs and narratives (“Mozambique,” “Ah Ji Wah Wah,” “I Am a Warrior”) with free-form numbers (“Sam’s Intro,” “Lock Stock And Barrel,” “No Night In Zion,” “Wicked Babylon,” “Let Freedom Reign,” Nigerian Reggae,” “Run One Mile”). Thirty years later, Tales Of Mozambique retains its seminal vitality, and remains essential to comprehending the Jamaican sound.