War ina Babylon reggae music CD album mp3

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War ina Babylon (Island, 1976)

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After hearing the marvelous, rollicking classic title cut, you would expect this album to be an instant classic, and a lot of people think that it indeed is.  That's a lot of pressure to live up to, however, and War ina Babylon only partially fulfills its promise.  Sound tunes like "Norman," "One Step Forward," "I Chase the Devil," and "Smokey Room" pepper the album, but they all fall well into the shadow of the title track.  Even producer Lee "Scratch" Perry's mad genius can't pull out another jam like "War ina Babylon."   Perhaps if you listen to the album without knowing this song very well, it will strike you a lot more, but otherwise, it's likely impression will be underwhelming.   Solid but nothing spectacular.

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Track Listing
1. One Step Forward
2. Uptown Babies Don't Cry
3. I Chase the Devil
4. War ina Babylon
5. Norman
6. Stealing in the Name of Jah
7. Tan and See
8. Smokey Room
9. Smile Out a Style
War ina Babylon
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Wet Dream (Esoldun, 1993)

This collection gathers together early works from Max Romeo (and a few others) from the late '60s and early '70s, when his lyrics focused more on sexual innuendo than the righteous Rastafarian themes he would later put forth (possibly because he was only in his early 20s when he recorded this material) -- the title track being the centerpiece ("Pussy Watchman" and "My Dickie" also leaving little to the imagination).  Though banned from British radio, "Wet Dream" hit the Top 10 there, in my opinion due more to its "forbidden fruit" appeal than to its musical strength.  I don't care for any of these lewd tunes, not necessarily because of the lyrics, but because they're just not very good.  In fact, many of the tracks on this collection of rock steady and reggae songs sound rather generic.  Still, there are some nice cuts; you just have to pick and choose.  "Rent Man" has a strong roots melody, while "Macabee Version" and "Fowl Thief" both have playful, old-fashioned melodies, and "Holla Zion" has an intriguing plink-plunk rhythm and hymn-like sound.

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Track Listing
1. Wet Dream
2. Day Dream
3. Rent Man
4. Two Faces People
5. Pussy Watchman
6. My Dickie
7. There's a Man in Your Life
8. Sometimes
9. Chi Chi Bud
10. Chi Chi Bud Version
11. Fowl Thief
12. Mr. Chatterbox
13. Macabee Version
14. Music Book
15. Stick By Me
16. Let the Power Fall
17. Holla Zion


Open the Iron Gate reggae music CD album mp3

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Open the Iron Gate: 1973-77 (Blood and Fire, 1999)

Along with War ina Babylon, Revelation Time is one of Max Romeo's most acclaimed albums, and it is finally released here (along with a couple of extra tracks) as Open the Iron Gate.  Released in 1974, Revelation Time preceded War ina Babylon, but it has a similarly heavy, cultural roots message (as opposed to his "Wet Dream" days), despite less edgy and powerful production (Romeo produced these tracks himself.).  The jewel of this collection is the irresistible roots rocking "No Peace," while the slow, funky "Blood of the Prophet" is also very nice.  Additionally, "Warning Warning," "Valley of Jehosaphat," and the gospel-laden call-and-response of "Every Man Ought to Know" are solid, but Revelation Time overall isn't necessarily a classic.  As Romeo has proven time and time again, his songwriting just isn't consistent enough to put out that great an album.  His lesser-praised 1977 album Reconstruction ironically contributes one of the stronger tracks on Open the Iron Gate, "Melt Away," while the other added cut, "Fire fe the Vatican," is merely a re-tread of "War ina Babylon."   

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Track Listing
1. Every Man Ought To Know
2. Revelation Time/Hammer and Sickle
3. No Peace
4. Tacko
5. Blood of the Prophet Parts 1 & 2
6. Warning Warning/Version
7. A Quarter Pound of I'cense
8. Three Blind Mice
9. Open the Iron Gate Parts 1 & 2
10. Valley of Jehosaphat/Version
11. Fire fe the Vatican
12. Melt Away [12" Version]
Open the Iron Gate
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Perilous Times reggae music CD album mp3

Perilous Times (1974-1999) (Mediacom, 2001)

This album contains previously unreleased songs of Max Romeo. It includes some Lee Perry-produces songs from the 1970s, recorded at Black Ark, with some known riddims, but also 7 later songs: from 1980 to 1990 to the late 1990s. As can maybe be expected, the 1970s songs are in line with other of Romeo's works from that time. The first 3 songs, however, reminded me more of the Open The Iron Gate album than of War Ina Babylon (despite Perry). These 3 songs are good, albeit a bit sober in comparison to his works on these 2 albums. The same can be said of the in itself fine "City Without Pity." Late-'90s songs like "Perilous Times" and "Marching" have a quite different feel, including a digital-like, dancehall-like riddim, which requires some adjustment. These 2 songs are fairly enjoyable, though maybe not the best reggae songs ever made. Romeo also seems adept in love songs with the nice, lyrically inventive (though not so much musically with its digital-like, generic riddim) "Hurting End." "I Wanna Be There" is catchy, while "Somebody Saddling Your Horse" and, to a lesser degree (because a bit better), "Marching" are musically maybe the lesser of the lot. Overall solid, though mostly not spectacular. Lyrically it's an interesting mix of social, Rastafarian, and personal themes, and musically it's also varied, from a clear '70s roots reggae sound to more modern digital inclinations. 

- Michel Conci

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Track Listing
1. Wha Yu Ago Till Jah Seh
2. Tell The People the Truth
3. Wake Up Jah People
4. Perilous Times
5. Perilous Times [Version]
6. Marching
7. City Without Pity
8. Homeward Bound
9. Hurting End
10. Somebody Saddling Your Horse
11. Same Picture
12. I Wanna Be There
Perilous Times
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