Peter Tosh – Equal Rights (Columbia/Legacy Edition) Peter Tosh – Legalize It (Columbia/Legacy Edition)

by | May 25, 2011 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Peter Tosh – Equal Rights (Columbia/Legacy Edition) 88697 74691 2 (2 CDs) ****:

Peter Tosh – Legalize It (Columbia/Legacy Edition) 88697 74690 2 (2 CDs) About 280 minutes total ****:

With its distinctive rhythmic style characterized by accents on the off-beat, reggae music became enormously popular by the mid-seventies. Brought to a mass audience by films like The Harder They Come and Rockers, it soon became, according to music critic Sam Re, “popular music’s best shot in the arm in years.” Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh were its triumvirate of giants. 

Peter Tosh’s best songs are all distinctive within the reggae style: the easy loping rhythm of “Equal Rights” and “Legalize It,” the eminently danceable “No Sympathy,” the sharp tempo shift between verse and chorus in “Till Your Well Runs Dry,” and the urgent woody percussion of “Stepping Razor,” that angry street song that made it onto the Rockers soundtrack. His lyrics were often socially engaged. The highly secular “Downpresser Man” was loosely based on the motoric Nina Simone spiritual “Sinnerman,” but with notable differences in lyrics:

Downpresser man

You can’t bribe no one

Them no want no money

Them run’f money

That money get funny.

Like Bob Marley, he even campaigned for Michael Manley, Jamaica’s democratic socialist prime minister. Songs like “Equal Rights” spotlighted the reactionary role of religion and pointed out other contradictions within society, even within the movement itself (“Everyone is crying out for peace, yes/None is crying out for justice.”). The music is invariably catchy and infectious. Thanks to these Sony Legacy editions, we now have multiple versions of many of the songs (as many as four!). Listening close to them can reveal intricate differences. The odd piano intro is missing from the dubbed version of “Downpressor Man.” The extended version of “Equal Rights” has a less pronounced backbeat. (Tip: Use two CD players to compare.) Some songs are previously unreleased. “Dem A Wicked” and “You Can’t Blame the Youth” are complete enough to be excellent pieces in their own right, and probably were heard many times on concert tours. It’s good to have them in this splendid collection. 

Like Marley (1945-1981), Tosh (1944-1987) died young, killed perhaps by his own humanity (he’d befriended a murderous criminal, trying to help him). His heritage is with us still, even these days as Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Ke$ha are busily strip-mining our musical landscape. Thirty-five years ago, Peter Tosh, perhaps naively, imagined his music had the power to transform society. Today, it is no small loss that we cannot.


Equal Rights (Legacy Edition) 

Disc 1:  1. Get Up, Stand Up  2. Downpressor Man  3. I Am That I Am  4. Stepping Razor  5.Equal Rights  6. African  7. Jah Guide  8. Apartheid  9. 400 Years  10. Hammer (Extended Version)  11. Jah Man Inna Jamdung  12. Vampire  13. Babylon Queendom  14. You Can’t Blame The Youth  15. (Know) Dem A Wicked

Disc 2:  1. Get Up, Stand Up (Alternate Version)  2. Dub-Presser Man (Dub Version)  3. I Am That I Am (ShaJahShoka Dub Plate)  4. Heavy Razor (ShaJahShoka Dub Plate)  5. Equal Rights (Extended Version)  6. African (London Sound System Dub Plate)  7. Jah Guide (Dub Plate)  8. (Fight) Apartheid (Alternative Version)  9. Vampire (Demo)  10. Jah Man Inna Jamdung (Demo)  11. Hammer (ShaJahShoka Dub Plate)  12. Blame The Youth (Dub Version)  13. Babylon Queendom (Dub Version)  14. Vampires (Dub Version)  15. Get Up, Stand Up (Extended/Alternate Version)

Legalize it (Legacy Edition)  
Disc 1:  1. Legalize It 2. Burial 3. Whatcha Gonna Do 4. No Sympathy 5. Why Must I Cry? 6. Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praised) 7. Ketchy Shuby 8. Till Your Well Runs Dry 9. Brand New Second Hand 10. Legalize It (Demo) 11. No Sympathy (Demo) 12. Why Must I Cry (Demo) 13. Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praised) (Demo) 14. Ketchy Shuby (Demo) 15. Till Your Well Runs Dry (Demo) 16. Brand New Second Hand (Demo)

Disc 2:  1. Legalize It 2. Burial 3. Whatcha Gonna Do 4. No Love, No Sympathy 5. Why Must I Cry 6. Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praised) 7. Ketchy Shuby 8. Till Your Well Runs Dry 9. Brand New Second Hand 10. Legalize It (Alternative Version) 11. Burial (Dub Version) 12. Whatcha Gonna Do (ShaJahShoka Dub Plate) 13. (Igziabeher) Let Jah Be Praised (ShaJahShoka Dub Plate) 14. Second Hand (ShaJahShoka Dub Plate) 15. Burial (Dub version) 16. Legalize It (Dub Version)

– Peter Bates

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