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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4
Man in the Hills
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£12.44+ £1.26 shipping

on 11 April 2010
this was the first roots album I heard and instantly bought, way back in the seventies, aged 15...I guess i was primed for it- what with the love i had for the best soul music...Gaye, Hayes, Mayfield, Sly etc etc.
It was quite an exotic thing to find in a small traditional independent record shop in rural Somerset.
The shopowner tolerated my listening to the whole album on his headphones.
it was one of those moments folks.....I was moved by the sheer spiritual power and humanity that emanated from the voice of Winston Rodney. I just....believed him.
just listen to the voice of Winston Rodney. He means it.
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on 9 November 2015
Wonderful classic, brilliant now I have it in digital.
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on 15 April 2010
Burning Spear are the epitome of hypnotic and meditational reggae music. At best, their sound can seem impassioned, almost as though you can hear the band's spirits freeing themselves from the shackles of existence in Babylon onto a higher plane of consciousness as they play. At worst, it can sound like a tedious meandering around one sullen riff. Most of the time it's more dreamlike and evocative than tediously repetitive. Winston Rodney's vocals are, of course, simply stunning and unquestionably heartfelt, there is a spiritual gospel feeling of abandon and joy as he improvises and scats on words and syllables (which is often). It truly does not matter that the first 4 songs are ridiculously similar when you hear such passion in the man's voice.

One thing I have noticed is that this album, unlike the previous one, "Marcus Garvey", has never been said to have been tampered with production-wise. "Marcus Garvey"s songs, it was said, were sped up and altered by Chris Blackwell of Island Records to become more 'accessible' to a European audience. I pondered this for a while, until I noticed that "Marcus Garvey", in comparison with "Man In The Hills", does seem more succinct, more reined-in with more going on in the songs instrumentation wise. So there are less horns on this album and less identifiable verses and choruses. Perhaps Burning Spear wanted more freedom to improvise without those formulaic verse-chorus-middle eigth constraints, and ended up with these dreamy, trance-like, ethereal floating sounds.

There are three classic anthems on here which justify the band's legendary status - the title track, a yearning for retreat out of Babylon's concrete jungle and into the pastoral idyll, which features whistled bird-song and cawing; "The Lion" with its chanted refrain "Don't kill it, don't kill the lion" and the definitive version of "Door Peep" which was the band's very first single from 1970. Here, it packs a heavy stomp like Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic" with some powerful horns.

This was the last album with producer Jack Ruby, and original backing vocalists Rupert Willington and Delroy Hinds.
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on 5 March 2013
Firstly, from a mastering perspective Man In The Hills is a great sounding CD. Labelled AAD, the fidelty suggests it was transferred from the master tape without suffering any later digital tampering. This is something I've encountered almost consistantly with these early releases from the Mango/Reggae Refreshers CD series, (the sole exception being Super Ape by The Upsetters, which sounds like it may have come from a slightly murky copy tape a couple of generations removed from the original).

But what of the music itself? Aside from the two opening tracks Man In The Hills is certainly not as immediately as accessible as it's predecessor, Marcus Garvey. It has nowhere near as much going on instrumentally, it has nowhere near as many hooks, and the lyrical expression is dialled right back - in quite a few songs being reduced to one line repeated multiple times.

If you're coming to Man In The Hills from the Garvey album you may have to do a little work to appreciate it on a similar level. But it is worth putting in the effort as it is definitely a grower. Despite the reduced instrumentation I mentioned earlier, it seems with Man In The Hills that the more you listen to it the more it reveals elements within itself to be latched on to.

I would say to anyone thinking of dabbling in Burning Spear for the first time, begin with Marcus Garvey and move to this album next. And if Man In The Hills fails to grab you immediately, live with it for a while and let it grow. Because given that chance, it probably will.
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