Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Itals

  • Brutal Out Deh [Nighthawk, 1982] A-
  • Give Me Power [Nighthawk, 1983] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Brutal Out Deh [Nighthawk, 1982]
Took this for yet another of JA's hookless wonders until Bob Palmer advised me to concentrate on the singing, at which point I realized that the precise harmonies framing Keith Porter's Marleyesque tenor were fine gospel music. Except for a perfunctory nod to lovers rock and a "thou shalt not steal" for ganja pirates, every one of these dauntless outcries of tribulation and deliverance could be sung comfortably (with a few modifications of terminology) by African Methodists on a Sunday morning, and in a few cases I bet they'd know the tunes. A-

Give Me Power [Nighthawk, 1983]
Same harmonies for sure, same devotion to Jah one assumes. But a touch softer here, a touch popper there, a touch slower (or more not-fast) somewhere else. It's a music of margins out there. B+