Joshua To Jashwha ~ 30 Years In The Wilderness
Bristol Archive Records
CD / LP / Digital Release
April 21, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 4|
Since Bristol Archive Records started to document Bristol's neglected reggae heritage we've been treated to a few worthy releases, of which the three compilation sets in "The Bristol Reggae Explosion" series, Revelation Rockers' LP "Jah Praises", and Cool Runnings' self titled 12-track album can be regarded as their most notable releases. But with the release of Joshua Moses' compilation set "Joshua To Jashwha ~ 30 Years In The Wilderness", Bristol Archive Records have undoubtedly put out their best release so far.
This album, featuring 15 tracks that were recorded between 1978 and 2003, showcases the remarkable talent of one of Bristol reggae scene's mainstays, Joshua Moses. Listening to this collection of tunes makes one wonder why this multi talented artist never achieved a big breakthrough, because most of the songs gathered here are roots pieces of real good quality, which is instantly clear when the Dennis Bovell produced album opener "Africa (Is Our Land)" from 1978, a killer roots anthem that deals with repatriation, comes out of the speakers. Its dub counterpart called "Home" rounds off this album, and although it lacks Joshua Moses' vocals, it is worth hearing as the strength and beauty of the riddim comes to full expression. Both tracks were reissued on very limited 12" vinyl in February 2012, which also was the case with the 1983 recorded "Rise Up", a call to fight oppression and injustice wherever it is found, and its dub version. Lyrically this roots tune isn't as strong as "Africa (Is Our Land)", but Joshua moses' vocal delivery on top of the wonderful riddim with its appealing organ sounds and dominant drum patterns makes it simply great to listen to.
Also the remaining 9 studio recordings are a joy to hear, especially when you enjoy listening to quality roots music. The awesome "Jah Time Has Come" from 2003, in which Joshua Moses looks forward to the coming of Jah and universal justice, comes across Aswad's "Promised Land" riddim, probably best known from the Dennis Brown song. Although "Jah Time Has Come" is a great effort, it's outmatched by "Suffering In the Past", a tale of life's struggles and overcoming suffering. Big tune! No need to say that also the dub counterpart, with vocals floating in and out the mix is a very welcome addition. "Steel", a song that calls for love to triumph over evil, carries a different mood, a different vibe, but is a decent effort anyway. In the beautiful "Bobby Wrong", Joshua Moses proclaims his Rastafarian, Jamaican and African identity. For the 1993 recorded songs "Children Of The Light" and "Nothing To Lose", Joshua Moses utilizes a falsetto voice reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield. Real nice soulful tunes, although the inaccurate mixing spoils them a bit as the vocal is sometimes almost drowned by the instruments, most notable in "Nothing To Lose". Then the final studio recording, "Distant Guns", goes into blues territory with it bluesy guitar sound and different vocal delivery.
In order to make this a more complete compilation of Joshua Moses' works, there's a trio of live recordings including one of the highlights of his live shows in the early 80s, "House Of Dread". In particular "Protection" shows how strong the influence of Bob Marley & The Wailers was on some of the UK reggae bands.