Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:
Despite Jamaican dancehall's cottage-industry vitality, reggae's standing as the beat of Third World protest has internationalized it. From country to metal to any African-derived genre you fancy, that herky-jerk groove is infinitely malleable.

Ziggy Marley has been looking back at his old man since his first album in 1984, even recording with a genuine Ethiopian band in Babylon Central, a/k/a New York City. His latest album with the Melody Makers, Jahmekya (Virgin), is a Jamaican affair, cut in Kingston with a band featuring two ex-Wailers and increased input from his numerous siblings. But never before has Ziggy--or many other Jamaicans, including Dad, who tried--been a more convincing rhythmic citizen of the world. Because Ziggy's politics suffer from the idealism of fighting poverty at a distance, his lyrics will never equal Bob's, but the beat that powers them, a funk-reggae hybrid with Babylonian horns, is his own.

Lyrics have never been Linton Kwesi Johnson's problem--this Brixton poet-activist-professor is as learned as pop musicians get. His Tings an' Times (Shanachie) is a weary, witty meditation on political endurance, and if you take the trouble to penetrate his patois you'll be glad you did. But over the years, LKJ and bandleader Dennis Bovell have learned to embody [his?] black-power humanism in jazzy skank, and here the violin and squeezebox make clear that there's more to the world [world-beat] than the African diaspora. [As does a glasnost song that hopes everything comes out all right.]

Playboy, May 1991


Apr. 1991 June 1991