Friday, January 04, 2008

Max Romeo & the Upsetters - War Ina Babylon

Why this album?

"Between 1976 and 1977, Lee Perry released a quartet of albums that can easily be considered amongst his finest moments...Not only do these epic albums represent Scratch at his best, but reggae at it's finest...Of this mighty quartet, War Ina Babylon is perhaps my favourite, a righteous mix of potent lyrics and musical excellence..."

Why these tracks?

"The fantastic "Norman" is like a film noir set to a Black Ark beat. The story of a flashy and corrupt gambler was apparently based on a real-life friend of Max's. "Norman is a friend of mine, Norman Eliot from Bull Bay in St. Thomas," relates Max. "A very good friend of mine, I used to hang out at that guy's house every evening. We play cards, it's like a little gambling gathering 'mongst us when the day is done to unwind. He was the house master. He buys the deck, he gives us the table and the chair, and you can get a beer and things like that. Every six games you play, he's got to collect, and that's the way he runs the business... He tax the players every sixth game they play. If I say 'Norman, beg you a less' he'd say 'me? I want more!'""

"The epic "Uptown Babies Don't Cry" has never been as popular as other War Ina Babylon tracks that were released as singles, but it's fantastic arrangement and heartfelt lyrics make it one of the most powerful songs on the album...His poignant observations of the "little lad selling Star" and the mother who has to "pay the fees for little Junior to go to school" paint a vivid picture. Scratch's arrangement of majestic horns and prowling organ give the excellent lyrics a magnificent rock to stand on."

Excerpts quoted from Upsetter Station: A Lee Perry Magazine.

Max Romeo & the Upsetters - Norman and Uptown Babies Don't Cry from War Ina Babylon