Album: The Abyssinians and Friends

Tree of Satta, Blood And Fire
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The Independent Culture

The rasta hymn "Satta Massa Gana" is as much a fixture of Jamaican music as any of Bob Marley's freedom anthems. Originally recorded by The Abyssinians in 1969, its familiar rhythm, with bass triplets underpinning a fatalistic, descending horn hook, has since been adapted for more than 400 versions, 20 of which are collected together here. Half date from the Seventies, ranging from the organ and sax instrumentals "Charming Version" and "Mandela", by Lloyd Charmers and Tommy McCook respectively, to the righteous toasts of Big Youth's "I Pray Thee" and Prince Far I's "Wisdom" - not forgetting, of course, the percussion version essayed by Bongo Herman. The rest have beencommissioned from current roots-reggae stars. Capleton's "Dislocate" is a typically uncompromising scourging of deceitful politicians, in contrast with Anthony B's more even-handed attitude in "Good and Bad", while Yami Bolo's apocalyptic "Conspiracy" contemplates, alongside the familiar fire, flood and pestilence, mankind's extermination through nuclear devastation and biochemical warfare. Most effective of all, however, is The Abyssinians' original, which opens the album.

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