Creation Rebel – Burning Spear
Heartbeat Records 11661-7664-2
Roots-reggae patriarch Winston "Burning Spear" Rodney’s 35th year recording and performing – he’ll turn 60 in 2005 and tours constantly – is exceedingly significant, especially since Clement "Sir Coxsonne" Dodd’s death in 2004. Dodd founded Studio One, Jamaica’s first black owned recording studio, which gave Rodney a creative home in which to hone and forge the foundations of roots reggae with Bob Marley, Lee "Scratch" Perry and the rest… And, I suppose it’s no coincidence that Creation Rebel, a collection of early singles, was reborn the same year Dodd passed.
Almost every song here was initially pressed as a wax single. Some were later compiled into a cohesive album, which has now been issued to CD. Since this is repackaged classic roots reggae from one of the genre’s pioneers, suffice it to say that the incendiary power of Rodney’s words and delivery still blister (he’s burned fire on Babylon with unrivaled steadfastness), while the one-drop keeps the heart beat pumping and rootsy basslines ooze like the rich trichromes, which helped inspire.
What makes this any better than another copy of Creation Rebel you can scavenge? Creation Rebel houses original songs like the flame-throwing "Pick up the Pieces," "Ethiopians Live it Out," "We Are Free," "Creation Rebel" and the original 1969 single version of "Door Peeper" (Spear’s first Studio One recording and appropriately track one here).
Here’s why it’s greater than what you’ve heard:
Interspersed are nine unreleased-on-CD nuggets that make this a medley every roots fan and every collector needs. During "This Race," Rodney’s creamy delivery keeps with the turtle pace of the guitar chucks. "This Population" asserts the dreams of impoverished peoples to become upwardly mobile in society. "Bad to Worst"‘s driving keyboard bob is appropriate fuel for Rodney’s anxious warning while "New Civilization" chants for a "new civilization all over this land." Brave demands mist over his whisper sweet, mountain-stream clean voice. It’s easy and nice to picture sweaty Jamaicans treading cloud-nine on fresh-blown ganja smoke at a Studio One block party the first time "Door Peeper" was heard. Oh, to have been there to share!
Rodney knows where to place blame and he has no sympathy for those who’ve fallen, another example of his throwing delivery. His voice alone can make you cry and want to listen hard, then realization sets that he’s preaching. He sings, "Weeping and wailing, gnashing of teeth…Got yourself to blame, stop do wrong. Beg you to do right, it’s gonna be weeping and wailing." And, although the message may not be well received nor even welcomed everywhere, it’s always delivered with heart and the desire that everyone will dodge the sorrow Rodney believes will soon fall.