Friday, 4 May 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #162 - Abyssinians, "Arise"

More Peel Archive business. I'm working my way through some issues here. One of those issues might be that I really didn't get dub when I first started listening in 1989. I don't know if it wasn't edgy enough - but it wasn't until I well into my twenties that it clicked. The rule though that I don't like music that Peelie never played still seems hard and fast.

The Abyssinians got played so often though that even with the early blanking I still got to hear plenty of them on the shows. Occasionally I get taken away into a world where these guys would crop up regularly on TOTP and the Britannia Music Club on the back of the Radio Times while UB40 could've been one hit wonders with "One in Ten" (which I quite like) and then disappeared. But I find thinking about these worlds does my contentment levels no good at all. No.

So sweetly heavy and righteously-weighted, these tunes. The congas on "Let My Days Be Long" are pretty annoying in the left headphone, but that would be my only criticism. (That's the kind of fairminded guy I am.) It seems close to effortless, although it can't have been. And I don't know how keen I'd be on the lyrics to "Mightiest of All" if they were out of the mouths of some Arkansas rednecks; but they weren't. I'm looking for the reasons why I shouldn't find this straightforwardly excellent. Maybe that was my problem from the outset. "Wicked Men" even makes being stuck in an oppressive riot sound like a smooth way to spend an afternoon.

Compared to the disturbing politics of Sizzla's Ghanian album a month or two ago, this is all about love and freedom as ideas. Thence flows its power. Whereas Sizzla would have the righteous marked out and the rest marked for damnation, Abyssinians make the point "The greatest love/I have ever loved/Is to love and be loved in return/Jah loves in return/Jah loves you, man." Criticism proof.

Rating: Heavy out of Smooth

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