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Black Dignity: Early Works of the Steppin' Razor

Peter Tosh 12/8/2009


Black Dignity is by no means the only Peter Tosh collection anyone should own, since it covers a tumultuous sliver of time. The tracks here are Trojan Records-associated songs that come from the early '70s, a time when Tosh was issuing solo singles out of resentment for the slow pace his band, the Wailers, was taking and resentment for the back seat he was taking to the Wailers' leader, Bob Marley. You miss the earlier Tosh carving out a solo career and all the post-Wailers success that was to come, but the Wailers' most distrustful and urgent member didn't issue anything without a purpose. The singles here are all important and as the excellent, career-spanning liner notes by Rick Glanvill point out, the producers Tosh was working with were in their prime, most notably Joe Gibbs. It was a producer/singer match made in heaven with Gibbs tempering Tosh's venom with sweet but very certain soul. On the Gibbs tracks it feels like that tense moment right before the kettle is about boil, something you'll feel when the excellent "Maga Dog" comes through the speakers. Black Dignity fills a void just by including the heralded Gibbs version of the track, but it also includes no less than four mostly faceless dub versions of the song that contain little or no involvement from Tosh (to be fair, the cover does mention "and friends"). The wild "Here Comes the Judge" -- which is followed by two of its dubs -- and the earthy, nyahbinghi-flavored "(Earth's) Rightful Ruler" are also crucial cuts the collection makes easy to obtain, the latter featuring an appearance by a young, very different-sounding U-Roy. The Lee "Scratch " Perry tracks are the Tosh-centered cuts he did with the Wailers and do a good job of representing the singer's contribution to the group. "Brand New Second Hand" shows what the Wailers were like with Tosh at the controls and makes a great argument that there should have been more of it. The track list doesn't flow as well as one would hope, but this is a more academic outing without any best-of disguise. Taking that into account and looking at the scant bit of Tosh Trojan has in its vaults, one can't help but respect how well Black Dignity brings the singer's "lost years" into the light. Start elsewhere if you're a newcomer, because this is a gap-filling gift for hardcore fans. ~ David Jeffries
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Brand New Second Hand Bob Marley & the Wailers 3:10
  3. 2 Them a Fe a Beaten Peter Tosh 1:53
  4. 3 Reuben Peter Tosh 2:2
  5. 4 Stop the Train Peter Tosh 2:21
  6. 5 Here Comes the Judge Peter Tosh 3:27
  7. 6 Rebelution Peter Tosh 3:19
  8. 7 Ah So Peter Tosh 3:16
  9. 8 Soon Come Peter Tosh 2:20
  10. 9 Memphis Peter Tosh 2:8
  11. 10 Arise Black Man Peter Tosh 2:36
  12. 11 Four Hundred Years Peter Tosh 2:31
  13. 12 Maga Dog Peter Tosh 2:43
  14. 13 Skanky Dog Peter Tosh 2:36
  15. 14 Boney Dog Peter Tosh 2:38
  16. 15 Maingy Dog Peter Tosh 2:59
  17. 16 Fat Dog Peter Tosh 2:57
  18. 17 Go Tell It On the Mountain Peter Tosh 3:12
  19. 18 Nobody's Business Peter Tosh 3:11
  20. 19 Downpressor Peter Tosh 3:12
  21. 20 Rudie's Medley Peter Tosh 3:12
  22. 21 Can't You See Peter Tosh 2:42
  23. 22 Black Dignity Peter Tosh 3:37
  24. 23 (Earth's) Rightful Ruler Peter Tosh 2:32
  25. 24 Brand New Second Hand [Alternate Take] Peter Tosh 3:55

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