The Rastafarians
December 6, 2009

The Rastafarians - Orthodox Track list
  1. Rasta Theme
  2. Seek H.I.M
  3. Orthodox
  4. Occupation
  5. This Ya Music
  6. A Love We Deal Wit
  7. Jah Greatest Blessings
  8. Roll Call
  9. Words Of Wisdom
  10. Hold On Jah Jah Children
Rate this album!
Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 23-
Very Good -Votes: 5-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 1-
Disappointing -Votes: 0-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 30
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
"Back in early 80s, The Rastafarians were based in Santa Cruz, California. The rumor going around the city's Christian churches was that The Rastafarians and their entourage had occupied a Baptist church on Seabright Ave. and held Rasta worship there every Sunday morning, smoking huge bowls of their sacrament and singing their praise to the Lord backed by a neighbourhood-leveling bass downbeat."

Don't know if this rumor was true altogether, but we do know that The Rastafarians recorded a self produced album at Fane Productions in Santa Cruz in 1981. The roots group The Rastafarians, written up as one of the best reggae bands in the world, was founded by Jamaican natives Michael Ashley aka Haile Maskel aka Mikey Ras Starr (bass and lead vocals) and Patrick Houchen aka Shaka Man aka Wolde Manifesskiddus (drums and lead vocals), and Californian Herb Daly (guitar). Other talented members included Binghi, Constantine "Vision" Walker, Tony "Moses" Wright and Elias Negash. "Orthodox" remained the only album release by The Rastafarians as the group disbanded thereafter. Besides members taking copies of the album with them, it was alleged that executive producer Bro Keith L'Hommedien D.D. absconded with the master tapes. In 2005 Shaka Man reissued his own version of Orthodox on the obscure Jubilee Palace label, and now, four years later, French reissue label Makasound have licensed the album from Haile Maskel, whose "Fire & Rain" set they released earlier in the spring of 2008. For whatever reason the tracklisting of the original "Orthodox" LP has been shuffled and also the original sleeve hasn't been used, but otherwise it remains unaltered.

Most of he music included on this ten track cd can be best described as classic roots reggae, although it sometimes carries a very progressive feel -- check e.g. the ska fueled title track with its groovin' funky afro beat. The album opens in fine style with "Rasta Theme", a tune that instantly makes clear what this album is all about... an uplifting, righteous and spiritual collection of tunes. "Rasta Theme" is actually a remake of a song that earlier appeared on Honest Jon's cd reissue of Cedric Im Brooks & The Light Of Saba (of whom Haile Maskel was a member), then called "Sabayindah". There's even a second do-over from that album featured here, namely the strong "Words Of Wisdom". "Seek H.I.M." is a matching follow up of the opening track and all in all worth of hearing. One of the best tracks has to be "Occupation", a song that deals with the barbaric invasion of Ethiopia by Italian dictator Mussolini in 1935. Other efforts that deserve to get several spins because they are truly worth hearing are "Jah Greatest Blessings", "Roll Call", and "Hold On Jah Children".

If The Rastafarians should be compared with other reggae groups then it's Chalice, Steel Pulse and The In-Crowd that instantly come to mind. Recommended for anyone who digs these groups and loves to listen to serious roots reggae music.