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Peter Tosh
Equal Rights; Legalize It [reissues] - Legacy
FILTER Grade: 93%

By Loren Poin on June 17, 2011


Peter Tosh

According to Robbie Shakespeare, the legendary and ubiquitous bassist of roots reggae, Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights is the greatest reggae album ever made. And he should know. He drove through menacing roadblocks, shrugged off police intimidation and survived a swath of violence that left 2,000 poor, black Jamaicans dead in 1976 because of political battles, yet still laid down the bottom end of this massive album, which is so rightly celebrated and ornately re-released this year. While the demos and liner notes are fascinating to the reggae historian, the resurrected dubplates are simply stunning and are alone worth the cost of admission. “Dub-Presser Man” and the “Jah Guide” dubplate burble and resonate, strange frequencies echoing out into space and through the muggy night air—especially for those prepared by the notorious herb Tosh championed throughout his life.

Legalize It is almost as epic as Equal Rights, and is an absolute whopper of a debut. Tosh’s political beliefs, including his demand for the legalization of cannabis, are emblazoned on this one as well, but it also features his songwriting at its most vulnerable—the masterpiece “Why Must I Cry?” rivals any of Bob Marley’s great love songs, featuring an intro that would make Barry White very jealous. The Legalize It reissue features the original mix of the album, prepared by Tosh himself. To hear the album as Tosh originally intended it is eye-opening, as the final mix seems more echoey and less straightforward, featuring less prominent vocals and more funky effects, for better or for worse. (I prefer the final.) The dubplates on this re-release are also mouth-watering for any reverb addict, pulsating with weirdness and star-spangled. For any appreciator of reggae and dub music, Black music or just good music, these re-releases are money well spent.

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