Record of the Day: Burning Spear, "Freeman"

Record of the Day: Burning Spear, “Freeman”

Burning Spear
Freeman (CD Burning Music Production BPF M001)

For many listeners, Jamaican reggae music is identified with a single name: Bob Marley, whose undoubted stature took on mythical connotations after his death with results of fundamental importance for the diffusion of this music; but the very rich artistic panorama of the island includes dozens of musicians of excellent quality who have had a long and successful career independently of Marley.

One of these is Winston Rodney, better known by the name of Burning Spear, who has been talked about since the mid-70s thanks to splendid albums such as “Man in the Hills” (where John Martyn appeared as a guest on guitar) and “Marcus Garvey”, an absolute masterpiece of the genre that the Island label has reissued on CD together with “Garvey’s Ghost”, the Dub version of the album (don’t miss it).

Rodney has the severe air of a holy man, but he is also capable of showing off an ironic smile in which two large figures stand out in the centre.
golden teeth: he is a quality author who knows how to combine politically aligned lyrics with captivating melodies to which he lends his warm voice, always collaborating with some of the best Jamaican musicians together with whom he has built elegant arrangements that will make you forget the calendar of February to transport you to a sunny island, perhaps with a spliff and a glass of rum.

The passing of the years has seen Burning Spear increase its success exponentially, with concerts crowded with enthusiastic audiences (listen to the album “Live in South Africa”) who pay homage to an artist capable of bringing fresh ideas to the repertoire of the genre, as demonstrated also this studio album released in 2003, “Freeman”.
From the initials “Trust” and “We Feel It” the album gives life to a feast for the ears that sees no failure in rhythm for all the songs that compose it.

The rhythm features three drummers and two bassists alternating, joined by a percussion battalion, a rich wind section (masterfully arranged) and a large number of different vocalists with whom Burning Spear creates choruses that will fascinate you from the first listen. The tone of the album is optimistic, all the pieces are immediately catchy and capable of bringing joy to even the most gloomy of listeners, pouring out a torrent of “positive vibrations” that will give you energy throughout the day.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.