Thursday, July 28, 2011

Albums2010 #44: Legalize It

The first time I heard Peter Tosh, I liked him. After all, the first song I heard was the title track from this album- and since it called for the legalization of marijuana (Dear Washington, if you want to fix our debt problem, how about ending the titanic money pit that is the War on Drugs? Just a thought) I figured I should probably do some more listening and see what he's about.

(Just as a quick sidenote: I recently hopped onboard Spotify to see what it was all about and was very impressed. No idea what the pay packages are like, but free access to 15 million songs? Including this album? Pretty damn cool, if you ask me...)

Anyway, Tosh along with Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley initially formed the nucleus of what would become Bob Marley and the Wailers which lasted until 1974, when Tosh struck out on his own, releasing this album (his solo debut) two years later in 1976. He provides an interesting contrast to Marley in that he seems (at this point) to have a more cynical, political hard edge to him that Marley lacks which makes me want to explore more of his music.

But, I think listening to this album, you can slot him up there right next to Marley in terms of talent- and one of the highlights of the album is, in fact, his collaboration with Marley himself on the beautiful track 'Why Must I Cry.' In fact you can say that this album is a perfect showcase for a reggae master's talent- starting with the profoundly political 'Legalize It' (what else do you think it could be about?) and going through such catchy tunes as 'Ketchy Shuby', 'No Sympathy' and 'Burial.'

Discovering Peter Tosh was a pleasant surprise. I've always enjoyed reggae- but haven't really stepped much beyond Marley until recently, dipping my toes into little pieces of Toots and the Maytals and Jimmy Cliff, but Tosh seems to the harder, more cynical ying to Bob Marley's uplifting, one love yang. It's an interesting and masterful contrast that I'm eager to explore more of.

Overall: **** out of 4- This is a reggae master just getting started- put him right up there with Marley on your shelf and if there's such a thing as a 'must buy' this would be it. Can't wait to listen to Equal Rights.

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