Monday, October 3, 2011

#1: Linton Kwesi Johnson - Forces of Victory (1979)


LKJ in Cardiff, 1980
While Ras Michael's Dadawah is the more intensely meditative, if not spiritual listening experience, it is LKJ's Forces of Victory that garners the top spot as the greatest reggae album on this deserted island.

Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in Jamaica, but like many Jamaicans in the middle to late 20th Century, his family moved to the UK, the Brixton suburb of London when Linton was a child. Johnson got his degree in sociology in London in the early '70s and later became a Black Panther with whom he began writing and organizing poetry sessions. Later he set his poetry, which dealt with socio-politcal problems like "fascism", racism, poverty in Thatcherist England, to infectious dub-heavy rhythms. His troika of releases in successive years starting in 1978, Dread, Beat and Blood, Forces of Victory and Bass Culture and later Making History, released in 1984, solidify him as one of the greatest artists of any genre.

The insert of Johnson's most recent release, Live in Paris, has this to say about his impressive resume:

"As recently as 1982, The Spectator (the oldest continuously published magazine in English) wrote that the Jamaican patois and phonetic spelling used by Johnson “wreaked havoc in schools and helped to create a generation of rioters and illiterates.” But this year Johnson was voted #22 in a poll of the top 100 Black Britons of all times. He became the first Black poet and the second living poet to be included in Penguin Books’ iconic Modern Classics series, with the publication of Mi Revalueshanary Fren. He was made an Honorary Visiting Professor of Middlesex University and received an Honorary Fellowship from his alma mater Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London. The UK’s original dub poet has come of age."

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Linton Kwesi Johnson