Burn­ing Spear – Stu­dio One Ses­sion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET STUBS -

There are very few cer­tain­ties in this world but one I al­ways reck­oned to be a fairly safe bet was As­tral Weeks’ pole po­si­tion in my favourite records ever list. How could any­one ever top that I al­ways thought? That was be­fore I heard Burn­ing Spear.

I had al­ways col­lected reg­gae 7”s pri­mar­ily be­cause I loved the sound and the medium, but also be­cause I was un­der the mis­taken im­pres­sion that the per­fect reg­gae al­bum didn’t ex­ist. I was wrong. Here it is. The un­touch­able Stu­dio One Ses­sion. It’s the new cer­tainty.

The al­bum was recorded in Kingston by Cox­sone Dodd with Lee Scratch Perry en­gi­neer­ing in 1973. It was made at a time when their work­ing re­la­tion­ship was fall­ing apart, but stands as a kind of swan­song to the ground­break­ing sounds they made to­gether.

This one is a land­mark record­ing, an all-time high for both par­ties. Reg­gae could be a con­ser­va­tive genre and Dodd was dif­fi­cult to work with. Lee Perry was a mar­tial-arts master who brought quick hands and a huge de­gree of in­tu­ition to the ta­ble. Cox­sone was the star and Perry the Aurora Bo­re­alis.

Through ad­ver­sity, right at the whis­tle, a master­piece emerged be­tween them.

Burn­ing Spear was the name cho­sen by Win­ston Rod­ney when he formed his group in 1968 with two har­mony singers, Ru­pert Hines and Del­roy Wilm­ing­ton of The Hep­tones. His voice was his sole in­stru­ment and it’s a joy­ful one. Bob Mar­ley, a friend and fan, rec­om­mended Cox­sone as a pro­ducer.

The sound they con­jured to­gether is spell­bind­ing. Rod­ney’s mel­liflu­ous voice is cen­tral. Oh, the sweet­ness of it. That’s the spark. When he sings, he soars. Fire! Add the har­monies and there are so many mo­ments of lay­ered vo­cal grandeur to be­hold, it’s breathtaking.

Only avail­able on vinyl, I trea­sure this record. Stave off the chill. Get burn­ing.

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