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Wednesday, October 28, 1998

Dub Poet

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 1998 at 12:00 AM

So, what is a dub poet anyhow? In the last two decades, Linton Kwesi Johnson has written and performed some of the most politically charged songs to ever come out of Britain's black culture or even Jamaica itself, and that includes the revered works of Robert Nesta Marley, thank you very much. Filled with biting social themes, the conscious spoken-word reggae stylee fusion of LKJ influenced an entire contingent of "dub poets" that first blossomed in the early '80s.

In a nutshell, Johnson's dark and brooding island patois was the perfect instrument to express the revolutionary rage and political upheaval brewing in the black ghettoes of England. Enhanced and supported by sound engineer Dennis Bovell and his accomplished Dub Band, Johnson's reggaefied rhetoric resulted in four groundbreaking albums on Island Records. This imposing 2-CD set collects many of the classic LKJ sessions, some of which have never seen the light of day until now. With original and dub versions of "Di Black Petty Booshwah," "Forces of Vicktry," "Inglan is a Bitch" and many others, Independent Intavenshan illuminates the courageous and articulate nature of one man railing against the system. While all this may sound a tad belligerent, Johnson's melodic flair and compelling talents as a musical orator made his particular brand of protest music very easy on the ears. On top of that, the deep, rhythmic dub versions of these songs are resolutely funky and guaranteed to move even the stodgiest bottoms. Like the dub poets always say, "Word Sound 'Ave Power."

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