Consumer Guide Album
Bunny Wailer: Blackheart Man [Island, 1976]
This isn't what they mean when they say protest music is boring, it's what they mean when they say protest music is subtle--only they don't, which is what's wrong with protest music. The content of the lyrics is as straightforward as Rastafarian thought can be (not very), but the spirit reveals itself slowly--"Fig Tree" is Jamaican Blake, "Oppressed Song" Jamaican Brecht, and "Fighting Against Convictions" simply Jamaican English, the autodidactic patois of a "common" criminal. And the music--well. We've come a long way from reggae's "primitive" days, haven't we? The interweave of mixed-back horns and multiple percussion is as gratifying and elusive rhythmically as it is harmonically, Bunny's singing is endlessly sinuous, and if you think you never want to hear another version of "This Train," you're just wrong.