The Abyssinians
Artists Only records
February 26, 2010

The Abyssinians - Reunion Track list
  1. Power Over Evil
  2. $19.95 + Tax
  3. Ethiopia
  4. Child Abuse
  5. Smokey Joe
  6. In A Kalda
  7. Arise
  8. Holyman
  9. Wolves
  10. Say It Again
  11. The Right (Satta Massagana)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
The Abyssinians were formed in 1968 and since then made great songs, and indeed great albums, such as "Satta Massagana" (1977), of which the title song became a Rasta hymn of sorts, while that album also contained several other very good or classic songs, such as "Declaration Of Rights" or "Know Jah Today". Also the album "Arise" - from 1978 - was in my opinion very good, with good songwriting and beautiful harmonies, and a classic roots feel. The Abyssinians were far from prolific since then, it seems, making this 1998 album feel as a "comeback". It is in fact a reissue of a 1996 album under the title "$19.95 + Tax". I understood through interviews with band members that the members before this separated, and underwent changes, including migrations of the Donald and Linford Manning brothers to Florida.

I liked to hear from the Abyssinians again, and was equally pleased when I heard that they remain within the roots sphere on "Reunion". They also return - more or less - with their characteristic vocal/harmony style. They rework - with reasoning - their classic Satta Massagana with a somewhat modernized sound and a "synth" edge. Yet, this "synth" sound is limited as the songs, however they may have been produced or created, do not have an "artificial" computerized sound. Instead it maintains a roots reggae, live band feel. Moreover, most songs are good, with interesting, conscious lyrics, dealing with Ethiopia, African history, or discussing and condemning child abuse, including abuse by clergymen. $19.95 + Tax is on consumerism. A lively, fun note is also there, as in the bluesy Smokey Joe, and In A Kalda, which I understood is on the horse track where Donald Manning worked in Florida.

Throughout all this, the music is often groovin' roots making you rock your body line. $19.95 + Tax, Ethiopia, and Smokey Joe are especially strong and engaging. In A Kalda has an original "horseride reggae" groove, while Holyman and Wolves are good as well. Even the musically relatively lesser parts remain entertaining enough. This CD thus satisfies expectations on the Abyssinians' awaited "reunion", and is well worth checking out.