- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
|Martha Velez||Primary Artist, Vocals, Background Vocals|
|Rita Marley||Vocals, Background Vocals|
|Judy Mowatt||Vocals, Background Vocals|
|Gladstone Anderson||Piano, Keyboards|
|Aston Barrett||Bass, Bass Guitar|
|Carlton "Carly" Barrett||Drums|
|Tyrone Downie||Organ, Keyboards|
|Marcia Griffiths||Vocals, Background Vocals|
|Bernard Touter Harvey||Piano, Keyboards|
|Lee "Scratch" Perry||Percussion|
|Earl "Chinna" Smith||Guitar|
|The Zap Pow Horns||Horn|
|The I Threes||Background Vocals|
|Bob Marley||Composer, Producer, Author, Audio Production|
|Toni J. Wadler||Art Direction|
Posted March 19, 2012
Well, meeow. This toxic review of 'Escape From Babylon' has unfortunately propagated across the internet, and it is painful and unjust to have it be the prevailing definitive word on the work. "...so very, very wrong?" I love this album (along with anyone else not turned off by this review) so one of us must be wrong. Good thing you don't need a license to like or dislike a record. It is understandable that someone may have screwed up assigning Jo-Ann Greene to review this album, but it is irresponsible for Greene to accept a work clearly beyond her parochial little consciousness to review. 'Escape' is in the Jamaica Museum for the preservation of the Jamaican musical heritage.
This is music citicism at its most frustrating. "Not only was Velez not Jamaican, she wasn't even a reggae singer..." Unbelievable. What next, "White Men Can't Jump"? In 1976, not even black people outside of Jamaica paid attention to reggae, and not much has changed in that respect thirty-five years later. Even the Jamaicans I know walk around crooning American R&B and rapping. If an American was asked to name the top ten reggae artists, he would fizzle out after Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Men At Work and Matisyahu. Maybe people like Burning Spear are all geniuses, but on the Florida side of the Carribean they are on the order of Miriam Makeba, not that there's anything wrong with that. Between the accent and the jargon and the alien cultural context, nobody knows or cares what they are singing about. At least Velez brings an American sensibility to the table and she has the integrity to be herself. I'm sure if I listened to Marley for a thousand hours like Matisyahu did I would love him to death, but without an interpreter I can't listen to him for a thousand seconds. And yet I would have the humility to never dispute his greatness. And judging by sales figures most people are like me.
That's what makes this album so significant and so prescient. Martha Velez was was a musicians' musician who was if anything too musically and lyrically heavy for the pop culture. She left her own footprints on folk, rock, soul, reggae and pop. Velez cannot be trivialized; she had grace and style and chops, had a musically adventurous and courageous spirit, moved in the top rank of the contemporary art, jammed and performed with the best, and expended the initiative and vision and respect to solicit a project with Bob Marley, who was little known outside Jamaica at the time. Too bad we can't read a review of the album by Bob Marley and his colleagues, who were not only open to putting their hearts into working with a non-black, non-Jamaican, non-reggae, non-Rastafarian fellow top-rank artist, but who toured with Velez to spread the spirit live in the Hudson valley.
'Escape From Babylon' is a true fusion; a true collaboration, and it is the snobbish mentality of people like Jo-Ann Greene who ensure that Jamaica will overwhelmingly remain a net cultural importer. Have an irie day.