Max Romeo
Open the Iron Gate 1973 - 1977
Blood and Fire (

If your taste excludes crooners, you might assume that romantically-named Romeo is using his honey-sweet voice to sing his latest squeeze back to his pad.

But no - Open the Iron Gate is basically a reissue of 1972's highly political Revelation Time (plus two mid-70's tunes), when Romeo was a key supporter of the socialist People's National Party in Jamaica. Take this sample from "Warning": "Dog up a Beverley Hills/A eat a T-bone steak an' drink cornflakes/While poor people in the ghetto a rake an' scrape/To get a cake". Hardly the stuff of Saturday night seduction.

And yet the music is smooth, deep and lyrical. The opener, "Man Ought To Know", is basically a Rasta spiritual with its roots as much in church tradition as rock steady. Deeper still are "Revelation Time/Hammer and Sickle", "No Peace", and "Open the Iron Gate Parts 1&2", which reflects the African repatriation philosophy of Marcus Garvey that informed much of early Rasta belief. The two later tracks that make up the rest of the album, "Fire Fe The Vatican" and "Melt Away" reflect a glitzier studio sound than that on the songs from Revelation. - Craig Tower

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