A Psalm Of Praises To The Most High 1967-1972
Sons Of Negus Churchical Host
Zion Disc / Dub Store Records
CD / Vinyl LP
June 20, 2016

Track list
  1. Run Come Rally
  2. Zion We Want To Go
  3. Ethiopian National Anthem
  4. All Ye Saints
  5. Come Down
  6. Lion Of Judah
  7. Take Your Bible & Read It
  8. Run Agressors Run
  9. Volunteer Ethiopians
  10. A Psalm Of Praises To The Most High
  11. Rejoice
  12. Salvation
  13. King's Highway
  14. Time Is Drawing High
  15. There Is A Green Hill Far Away
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 5
In the early 1950s figurehead master drummer and leader of the Rastafarian drummers, Oswald Williams aka Count Ossie, established his own Rastafarian camp in the Rennock Lodge Community in East Kingston, which became a base for many of Jamaica's finest Jazz musicians including Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore, Ernest Ranglin and Rico Rodriguez. The band began to preach the gospel of Rastafari at dance sessions throughout Jamaica, gradually transforming the secular dances into sacred Rastafarian grounation (reasoning) sessions that would last until the dawn broke. Actually Count Ossie was the first who brought the deeply spiritual nyabinghi and buru riddims into popular Jamaican music through his many collaborations and performances with artists from The Skatalites to The Folks Brothers - and producers including Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, Prince Buster, and Harry Mudie. He was first heard on record when in 1960 he provided the backing for the Folks Brothers' "Oh Carolina", a tune produced by Prince Buster.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s innumerable Jamaican producers would employ Count Ossie's drums and other exponents of the Nyahbinghi school including Bongo Herman, Eric Lamont aka Bingy Bunny and Michael George Henry aka Ras Michael, who became regular session musicians. It was in 1967 that Ras Michael began to play occasional recording sessions for Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd with Jackie Mittoo and Soul Vendors at Studio One. His recordings at the legendary studio included classics such as "Drum Song" and "Darker Shade Of Black". Instead of getting paid for his work he requested studio time for recordings of the Sons Of Negus Churchical Host for his own Zion Disc productions. It wasn't until the mid-1970s that Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus established themselves as major recording artists whose popularity went from strength to strength. Their 1974 released albums "Nyahbinghi" and "Peace & Love" (credited to Dadawah) proved pivotal in establishing Rastafarian reggae as a formidable artistic and spiritual force. The following year they had huge success with their 7" single "None A Jah Jah Children", which was a very big seller in the UK.

"A Psalm Of Praises To The Most High 1967-1972" takes the listener back to the early recordings of Ras Michael as it collects fifteen tracks of glorious, devotional Rastafarian hymns of praise by the Sons Of Negus Churchical Hosts. All tracks were originally released as 7" singles on the Zion Disc imprint in extremely limited pressings and never before available outside of Jamaica. It makes this extraordinary cd (and 12-track vinyl LP) a unique as well as fascinating release as it features undiluted Rastafarian music, which actually is the link to the roots era of the 1970s, when Rastafarianism became the dominant ideology of Jamaican music and reggae became the ultimate rebel sound throughout the world. The first two tracks are prime examples as the classic nyabhingi of "Run Come Rally" was covered in 1976 'inna roots reggae style' by Yabby You (aka Vivian Jackson & The Prophets), while the melody of total killer "Zion We Want To Go" was eventually adapted by Dennis Brown as "Africa We Want To Go" from 1978. Much earlier, in 1968, it was already used by The Gaylads for their Studio One scorcher "Africa", which might have featured Ras Michael on percussion. Here the Sons Of Negus Churchical host deliver the superb original Nyabinghi cut with flute and organ of Cyril Diaz Orchestra's "Tabu". And then there's the intro of "Ethiopian National Anthem", which was sampled for U Roy's collaboration with Peter Tosh, the 1970 released "Earth Rightful Ruler", while "Run Agressors Run" features a Dread spoken word intro from Ras Michael. Deep roots music fi sure!!! All Zion Disc singles gathered on this release show a remarkable degree of invention and subtlety, which makes that this album is a joy to listen to, especially when you're in a meditative mood.

Anyone who's interested in the source of roots reggae in its purest form simply needs to add this fabulous set to his collection.