War Ina Babylon album cover
War Ina Babylon

Max Romeo , The Upsetters

Federal Records

Although he made his name on the Jamaican charts with a silly and bawdy novelty song called “Wet Dream,” Max Romeo was always a roots-and-culture guy at heart. And on this, his best-ever album, he had two major things going for him: the backing of the mighty Upsetters band, and the even mightier Lee “Scratch” Perry behind the mixing board at the Black Ark studio. The trademark Black Ark sound — murky, echoey, splashy — is in full effect here, and it creates a slightly incongruous but thoroughly effective sonic environment for Romeo’s rich, sweet voice. Lyrically, the album title and cover tell you exactly what to expect: songs of suffering, conflict, and godless oppression. And Romeo makes you feel every crack of Babylon’s whip.

Rick Anderson

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