Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers

  • Conscious Party [Virgin, 1988] B+
  • Time Has Come . . . : The Best of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers [EMI-Manhattan, 1988] C+
  • Bright Day [Virgin, 1989] B
  • Jahmekya [Virgin, 1991] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Conscious Party [Virgin, 1988]
Neither his arty producers nor his Ethiopian band force the kind of cheer that wimped out his earlier crossovers, and his sharp, gritty singing replicates his old man's lower half even if the spiritual-romantic flights are beyond him. He's gotten less platitudinous, too, though as a prophet's scion he never invests Rasta doctrine with the authority of ideas struggled for--a black Jamaican cosmopolitan enough to voice sympathy for a "white guy in love with black beauty" sounds as priggish as any other puritan when he goes on about alcohol and processed foods. B+

Time Has Come . . . : The Best of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers [EMI-Manhattan, 1988]
First time around, I was willing to give this stuff a break--might connect once we heard what he really had to say, and keep your fingers crossed Now that we've heard what he really has to say, I'm filing it away as juvenilia. C+

Bright Day [Virgin, 1989]
He's a confident international entertainer where his dad was a driven third-world artist, which is a loss, but disgruntled accusations that he's betraying his heritage, his confreres, and the great reggae diaspora would disappear if he could take his songs where he wants them to go. Until that if-ever, the synthesis will be more impressive both macro (reggae-rock headed Afrofunk) and micro (this guitar break, that piano comp) than in the middle distance where life is lived and music heard. B

Jahmekya [Virgin, 1991]
Slowly--too slowly, but faster than we had any right to hope--he's getting it: if "This generation will make the change" doesn't convince, "When will the innocent stop being punished for their innocence" will certainly do. And the complex drive of the music, cut this time in full Tuff Gong regalia, could pass for innovative: a genuine reggae groove at pop speeds with pop horns. More likely to endure as a turning point than to pass into half-assed oblivion. B+