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Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Rodney's roots

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Burning Spear's leader-songwriter-vocalist-prophet, Winston Rodney is the most enduring and prolific performer in the history of reggae. With more than three decades of music making under his brightly colored belt, Rodney has been spreading his special brand of Rasta gospel the world over.

Lyrically, Rodney often memorializes back-to-Africa idealist Marcus Garvey and preaches the highest standards in all spiritual matters. Besides his righteous folk message and willingness to address political issues, Rodney drives a particularly potent reggae band that's equal to Bob Marley's Wailers at their riddum-filled peak. On Calling Rastafari, Burning Spear churns out 11 roots-rock-reggae anthems with earnest confidence and humble enthusiasm.

With such danceable songs as "Brighten My Vision," Rodney implores his lord Jah to help him become the most clear-eyed disciple he can be. With his limber rhythm crew shoring up the bottom end and a buoyant horn section riding on top, Rodney croons his conscious communiqués in a warm voice that is both celebratory and wise. His experienced island perspective walks the very fine line between rural idealism and urban sophistication.

Rising above the moral slackness often espoused in current Jamaican music, Burning Spear has put out the best reggae album of the year. Again.

Mitch Myers writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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