Imagine for a moment that you are an assiduous Amazon reviewer--in Elizabethan England--and you have reviewed such books as John Donne's poems, or Edmund Spenser's Faery Queene and you have given them enthusiastic 5 star ratings. Then one day, you go to the Ye Old Book Store and pick up this new volume--by this bumpkin who died a sad death at the Mermaid's Tavern--the Folio, by some guy named William Shakespeare, and you go home and start reading and you realize the work was simply on a different higher level. How many stars do you reward it?
That's my reaction to Joe Higgs' Unity is Power. This must rank--easily--in the top ten of all reggae albums ever made. His voice is staggeringly beautiful. The songs resonant with beautiful arrangements and lyrics that are biting and more important true. This is reggae with beautiful harmonies, beautiful thought, beautiful songs. All the songs on this set are strong and irreplaceable.
Now that you have ordered this CD I will tell you who Joe Higgs is. A fine Jamaican gentleman born a generation before Bob Marley, in colonial Britain, Higgs scored early and significant ska hits--for which he did not receive payment. Disillusioned by the corrupt Jamaican musical scene, he sought to control his music against the promoters and producers--only to be rudely ignored by the musical establishment.
He taught Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer how to sing and harmonize. In the 70s, he had a small reputation as the man who taught Bob Marley. Peter Tosh rather blatantly stole credit for a song Higgs wrote--Stepping Razor. In a lifetime of injustices, Higgs actually found a sympathetic government official who managed to have the song credit transferred to the true author.
In the eighties, after his life was threatened due to the revolutionary song So it Goes, he emigrated to LA where he was a helpful and appreciated figure on the local reggae scene. He died in the late 1990s, in poverty and largely forgotten.
Yet it seems likely he will be remembered for his music. Besides numerous singles, which remain largely uncollected, in the seventies he recorded--Life of Contradiction (which Chris Blackwell commissioned and refused to release, saying it was too advanced), this release and Joe Higgs - Family - [LP]. During the eighties he released Triumph! which had the amazing cut So it Go. Of these, this CD is the strongest, an amazing heartfelt work which will survive our generation--if any justice can be had in this world after all this time.