Ras Michael

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

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Jamaican rastafarian drummer Ras Michael (Michael-George Henry) formed the Sons of Negus to perform a highly spiritual form of reggae that eschewed the traditional role of the guitar and favored hand-drums (nyabinghi) and piano, as documented on the four lengthy jams-prayers of Dadawah - Peace And Love (Trojan, 1974 - Dug Out, 2010): the basic hare-krishna chanting of Run Come Rally is enhanced in Seventy-Two Nations by a livelier funk-jazz-psychedelic flavor. The delicate undulating melodic theme of Zion Land gives the album its peak of pathos, despite the piece consisting mostly of just serene atmosphere, while the even calmer Know How You Stand exudes a sense of infinite longing. It was not so much a celebration of African roots (although this kind of reggae came closer than the more commercial mainstream form of Bob Marley) but a celebration of the coming end of the world.

Nyanbinghi (Trojan, 1974), a truly "solo" album, didn't even use instruments, just invocations. Freedom Sounds (1974) was a more conventional album. Rastafari (Greensleeves, 1975) added the synthesizer. Tribute to the Emperor (Trojan, 1976) was another inferior work. Kibir-Am-Lak/ Glory To God (1977) added trumpet and saxophone. The idea was repeated on Movements (Dynamic Sounds, 1978), Rastafari In Dub (1978), the spartan Love Thy Neighbour (1979), the live Promised Land Sounds (1980), that added electronics, Disarmament (Trojan, 1981), Revelation (Trojan, 1982), Love Thy Neighbour (Jah Life, 1984), Zion Train (SST, 1984), a collaboration with Bad Brain's vocalist HR, Rally Round (Shanachie, 1985), etc.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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