Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Black Stalin

  • You Ask for It [Kalico, 1984] B+
  • Roots Rock Soca [Rounder, 1991] A-
  • Rebellion [Ice, 1994] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

You Ask for It [Kalico, 1984]
Heir to the voluble wit of calypso tradition, Leroy Calliste is droller than any Jamaican Rasta you can think of whether he's being dragged kicking and jamming into soca clichés or talking back to a vocoder that won't shut up about "better days are coming." With its Cuban horns and displaced steel drums, the music has its own witty take on the tradition. And if I don't understand every topical reference, maybe it's just as well--any kind of Rasta going on about "corruption" can get me laughing out the other side of my mouth pretty quick. B+

Roots Rock Soca [Rounder, 1991]
There's more fun, which means room for choice, in Buster Poindexter's novelty "Hot Hot Hot" than in the coercive carnivalesque of Arrow's soca original. So what first attracted me to this Trinbago Rasta wasn't his antiparty politics, as in "Wait Dorothy Wait," whose verses list the panoply of injustices that will have to go before he can write verses to match the "smutty" chorus. It was the slackness of his music--his sun-warmed arrangements and smoker's baritone. Anyone resourceful enough to own his 1982 Caribbean Man will balk at repurchasing its seven best tracks. But the lyrics, notes, and remixes are all improvements, and so are the four later songs. Even "Dorothy" is eclipsed by "Burn Dem," in which he begs Saint Peter to let him throw down Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes, and Margaret Thatcher himself. A-

Rebellion [Ice, 1994]
democratic opinion ina bacchanal style ("All Saints Road," "Nation of Importers") *