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Reggae - Released January 1, 1988 | Capitol Records

A compilation of his formative material. Not his finest period but interesting nonetheless. © Ron Wynn /TiVo

Reggae - Released January 1, 1986 | Capitol Records

A major step forward, Hey World! exhibits a depth totally unexpected after the Melody Makers' reggae-pop lite debut. The group may still be caught in the crossfire between upbeat pop and heavier cultural roots, but this is a battle that will happily rage within their sound for years. And so the stylistic pendulum swings from the sweet anthemic pop of "Give a Little Love" and "Get Up Jah Jah Children" to the radical roots of "666," "Police Brutality," and the title track. That last one is a particular stunner, with all the flash and melody of a teen scream sensation, but with lyrics worthy of an anarcho-punk band; think the Backstreet Boys singing a Rancid song. The electro-shiny production, so beloved in the discos of the day, help paper over the huge gap between the two approaches, but inevitably weakens the musical impact of the rootsier numbers. One can only imagine what a producer like Junjo Lawes or Niney Holness would have done with something as apocalyptic as "666." Here it's given a dubby workout, but still lacks the heavy beats that would have taken it into the dread realm where it truly belonged. But Hey World! is a child of its time and place, by and large roots were lightening their heavy load, urban sounds were sweeping in, and this allowed the Melody Makers to pursue both styles with impunity. The song arrangements and production may sound terribly dated today, but the strength of the songwriting, by both Ziggy and the fast maturing Stephen, and the pair's emotive vocal deliveries still pack a powerful punch and a keen vision. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo


Capitol Records in the magazine
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