The Ultimate Collection
February 21, 2011

Track list
  1. Dis Poem
  2. Great Kings Of Africa feat. Dennis Brown & Ini Kamoze
  3. Garvey
  4. Bun Dung Babylon
  5. Wise Up feat. Sugar Minot
  6. People's Court Part 1
  7. Junk Food
  8. H-2 Worker
  9. Psalms 24 feat. Luciano
  10. Johnny Drughead
  11. Famine Injection
  12. Any Which Way Freedom
  13. People's Court Part 2
  14. Walking On Gravel feat. Ini Kamoze & Marcia Griffiths
  15. Whiteman Country
  16. I Am De Man
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 5
Mutabaruka, born Allan Hope, was already a poet before really going in the reggae music business. He since then became one of the exponents of the "dub poetry" genre, alongside being a public intellectual, with interesting, sometimes controversial views he expresses in his radio program, on television, and today also through the internet. Though overall fitting somehow within Rastafari beliefs as these developed over time, he also is evidently a free thinker and sometimes controversial even within Rastafari.

As is to expect from this artist, his message and lyrics are very important in his music. This album, released by Greensleeves in 1996, is a compilation from various albums, alongside songs previously unreleased on any Mutabaruka album. Hardcore Mutabaruka fans having all the albums in question "Blakk Wi Blakk", "Melanin Man", "Any Which Way Freedom", and "The Mistery Unfolds" will have most songs, though not all. Musically he (again) teams up with veteran Earl "Chinna" Smith, and others, creating a rootsy, live band sound with a dancehall touch here and there. Quality musicians (Sly Dunbar, Dean Fraser and others) are included. There are also influences from other genres, such as a slight rock feel on Famine Injection, and a slight Latin feel on Walking On Gravel. Overall the sound reflects the 1986-1994 period the albums come from, but without digital dominance.

I only knew, and liked, the album "Check It!" by Mutabaruka before, so for me this collection functioned as a sort of wider introduction to Mutabaruka's later work. I like most songs on this album, and the balance between music and lyrics is good enough. It balances maybe a bit toward lyrics on the 2 People's Court songs, which are lyrically very interesting, though musically somewhat boring, with a sort of simplified rocksteady. The rock feel on Famine Injection is maybe another lesser moment as is the somewhat dull Psalms 24, but overall the songs are catchy and appealing, or downright groovy. Especially Bun Dung Babylon, H-2 Worker, Johnny Drughead, and Any Which Way Freedom make you "rock your body line". The guest appearances work well in my opinion, adding a nice feel (singing as opposed to toasting), such as by Dennis Brown and Ini Kamoze on the fine Great Kings of Africa (previously unreleased on album!), and Ini Kamoze and Marcia Griffiths on the nice Walking On Gravel. Also the straight dancehall song with Sugar Minott, Wise Up, works well, and is previously unreleased on album.

It helps if you're really interested in what Mutabaruka has to say: the album has insightful lyrics, deep yet with humour, but also musically this album is strong for the most part, besides some bearable dull moments.

The Abyssinians : Reunion
The album 'The Abyssinians-Reunion' is a decent set with interesting, conscious lyrics.