Album review
Ghetto Knowledge
The Meditations
Easy Star Records

Tracking list

  1. African Connection
  2. Ghetto Is A College
  3. Great Tribulation
  4. Blackman Redemption
  5. Excited
  6. Living On The Edge
  7. Do Be Down
  8. Educated Fools
  9. One Of Us
  10. Never Desert You
  11. Moses
  12. Only Jah Love
  13. Enemies Away
  14. Jah Music
  15. The Police
  16. Rudeboy Corner
  17. The More I Try
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5

Among the Jamaican harmony vocal trios of the seventies the Meditations, consisting of Ansell Cridland, Danny Clarke and Winston Watson, stand out as one of the finest and most enduring. Their musical approach incorporated Garveyite lyrics, heavy rhythms and vocal influences from a new generation of U.S. soft soul groups often combined with minor chords in the melodies and 'dreader' vocal tones.
'Ghetto Knowledge' is their first new album since 1992. The album is released by New York based Easy Star Records, an independent label praised for its dedication to classic reggae. (Check out their ground breaking 1998 compilation set Easy Star Volume One.) This set features the track Jah Music, the first Meditations project with the label.
Many songs on 'Ghetto Knowledge' were written in the 70s and the 80s, but have never been recorded before. The album is a blistering collection of truthful songs, both dealing with cultural issues as well as love themes. Feaured here are two covers : Bob Marley's Blackman Redemption, for which the trio provided the backing vocals on the original recording, and Curtis Mayfield's fragile lovers tune Do Be Down. Excited and Never Desert You are other love songs featured on the album. Ghetto Is A College is the absolute killer track of the set, and Only Jah Love , featuring the "I Need A Roof' riddim, brilliantly showcases the vocal qualities of The Meditations. Dancehall influences are found on Moses and Rudeboy Corner.
African Connection is a song with a message of hope and inspiration, and Great Tribulation, loosely based on 'Sata Massagana', is an inspired rasta anthem. 'Oh Jah keep those enemies away' Danny Clarke sings on Enemies Away, a song in which he calls upon the father for help.
It's hard to point out standout tracks, but some of my favorite tunes are Ghetto Knowledge, The More I Try, Jah Love, Do Be Down and One Of Us.
The songs were recorded in several studios all over the world (Jamaica, USA and England) with the help of some of the best instrumentalists in reggae music : Sly Dunbar, Style Scott, Carlton Barrett (drums), Val Douglas, Derrick Barnett, Mafia (bass), Sidney Mills, Danny Browne, Franlin Waul, Theopholus Beckford (keyboards), Junior Jazz, Ronnie Butler (guitar), Milton Henry, Sky Juice, Ras Barnibas (percussion).
The songs on 'Ghetto Knowledge' really bring you the message of reggae, delivered in a tasty mix of 'old style' and new by reggae's best singers and harmonizers.
Lyrically and musically potent stuff !

Teacher & Mr. T.