Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Furnace
Keith Hudson
Sunspot Records
LP
May 5, 2012

Track list
Side One.
  1. Furnace
  2. Tye Tye
  3. Riot
  4. Riot Version
  5. Tribal War
  6. Don't Start It Up
Side Two.
  1. Don't Act So
  2. I Have Faith
  3. Romper Room
  4. I.D. Parade
  5. Bad Harvest
  6. Closer Walk With Thee
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
Keith Hudson. The Dark Prince of Reggae. The late, great singer, songwriter, producer and dub organiser embraced so many genres of music and cooked them into a delicious ital music pot in every record he did. From his first production, Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way" to his crossover attempt, "Too Expensive" he made a name for himself. He switched gears in the late 1970's with the classic "Rasta Communication" to his final days (battling lung cancer) planning a secret project with the Barrett brothers; with whom he had worked with decades before. He flew to Zion on Nov. 14, 1984.

"Furnace" is a 1972 production released on Keith's IMBIDIMTS label. It has been gloriously remastered and released on U.K's Sunspot Records. The result is a masterful blend of soul and spirituality riding a backbone of solid instrumentals and dubs that are Keith's trademark. The tracks are backed by the earliest incarnation of the Soul Syndicate, boasting a crew that included Fully Fullwood. Carlton "Santa" Davis and Familyman Barrett. Val Bennett and Dizzy Moore handle the brass. These rhythms are progressive and ahead of its time.

The opening tracks, Furnace and Tye Tye (nickname for Keith's son, Ricky) are blazing instrumentals that will keep your attention. The Soul "Now Sound" Syndicate blaze thru a dynamic cover of Hugh Masakela's Riot. Keith's groundbreaking vocals come into play on Don't Start It Up; a powerful plea for peace. Note: the original rhythm can be traced back to a rare Termites' single, "Show Me The Way". Keith was a master of finding rhythms and applying them in a dynamic way. Big Youth, Dennis Alcapone, and U-Roy all scored major hits with Keith's rhythms and production skills.

Side Two opens up with two songs of love. The poignant lyrics definitely stir the soul. Romper Room is an unusual rhythm that was versioned twice by Dennis Alcapone. Bad Harvest is a gospel tinged song with Alcapone ridin' the riddim; explaining the good and bad harvests of his youth. Save the best for last! Closer Walk With Thee is Keith's heartwrenching rendition of a 1920's gospel song. An example of the lyrics, "I'll be satisfied in glory, as I walk dear God, close to thee".

In all, this is a classic reggae album with soul and gospel influences. This is a musical basket that is essential for your turntable. Keith Hudson is an unsung hero; not fully appreciated and taken from us before due time. What he left behind is a body of works that were light years ahead of their time. "Furnace" is burnin' hot!