The Real Enemy
The Mighty Diamonds
October 10, 2010

Mighty Track list
  1. The Real Enemy
  2. Gang War
  3. Play Girl
  4. Babylon Is Dangerous
  5. Dem A Worry
  6. Free Africa
  7. Right Feeling
  8. I Say No
  9. Mr Botha
  10. Chant Down War
  11. Dread Out Deh
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
The Mighty Diamonds have proven to be an enduring group with quality output. From their start in the late 60s they have been quite consistent in their quality standard. "Right Time" and "Deeper Roots" recorded at Channel One in the 70s are classic roots reggae albums. They remained active and delivered quality sets during the 80s and 90s: good songs and harmony vocals, while also the music remains often roots at its best, despite dancehall or digital dominance elsewhere. They easily adapted the sound of those days, which sometimes resulted in a synth "feel" on some albums.

This album dates from 1987, released by Greensleeves, with producer Gussie Clarke. "The Real Enemy" has more or less a modernized (somewhat more crisp or "polished") roots sound, comparable to other releases by Greensleeves (and yes: with a slight synth feel). The musicians however promise quality: Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Dwight Pinkney, Dean Fraser and others. Interestingly, there are other backing vocalists (e.g. Carlton Hines, Dave Harvey, and Paul Mangaroo of the group Tetrack, and J.C. Lodge) alongside Fitzroy Simpson, and Lloyd Ferguson, who usually aptly complement Donald "Tabby" Shaw's great, soulful lead vocals. When buying this I thought "you can't go wrong". Also because I had, and liked, a Mighty Diamonds album from the same period, 1988, "Get Ready", also on Greensleeves.

I was not disappointed. The Mighty Diamonds' consistent quality can be found on "The Real Enemy": good vocals and harmonies, and good live band roots music with original riddims. Also, (mostly) strong melodies. Conscious as well as (to a lesser degree) love lyrics. It differs, to my opinion, from song to song. While most songs are tight and good, some are just simpler or a bit less spectacular ("boring" is never a good word regarding The Mighty Diamonds). The title track is one of those simpler songs, as are Right Feeling and Play Girl. But these are still nice, not bad. Some songs are more complex, in a good way, once you grow into them you enjoy them even more. I think Gang War, Babylon Is Dangerous, Dem A Worry, and Mr Botha can count among the better of all Mighty Diamonds songs, while Free Africa, I Say No, and Dread Out Deh are also just good songs, quite typical solid Mighty Diamonds tunes. This album is therefore recommendable, because it's good and quite accessible, but maybe especially for Mighty Diamonds fans, who are more used to their sound.