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Reggae - Released August 31, 2018 | Wagram Music - W Lab

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Reggae - Released July 18, 2018 | Wagram Music - W Lab

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Reggae - Released July 6, 2018 | Wagram Music - W Lab

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Reggae - Released June 1, 2018 | Wagram Music - W Lab

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Reggae - Released June 22, 2018 | Wagram Music - W Lab

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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released July 20, 2010 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released August 6, 2010 | VP Records

While it might be sacrilege in reggae circles to say that any artist could challenge Bob Marley's mastery of the genre, Alpha Blondy fires a dead-on shot literally heard around the world with Apartheid Is Nazism. Furthermore, this work proves that great reggae does not have to come from Jamaica. "Afriki" opens the album with a nod to Jamaica, but while the music is classic, offbeat reggae, there is a strong African feel here, especially in the backing vocals. On every track, the carefully arranged and smartly played music of Blondy's band, the Solar System, tickles the ears with muscular polyrhythms and a variety of stealthily intoxicating percussion. Maneuvering skillfully on top of all of this is Blondy's uniquely plaintive voice. Blondy, like many reggae stars before him, tackles political issues with a dagger wit and thundering basslines. The title track, one of only two songs sung predominantly in English, pleads for America to "break the neck of this apartheid." Like the patois in which Blondy makes his incantations, his religious message is more mixed than the standard reggae paeans to Jah Rastafari. With tracks like "Come Back Jesus" and "Jah Houphouet" on the same album, it's clear that Blondy is attempting to strike a universal theme in the same way Marley did. While Blondy's career can't measure up to Marley when taken as a whole, Apartheid Is Nazism can stand up to most Marley releases. ~ Matthew Hilburn
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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released July 6, 2010 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

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World - Released April 20, 2015 | Wagram Music

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Reggae - Released April 22, 2016 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

Since picking up the stylistic torch laid down when Bob Marley died in 1981, Alpha Blondy has had a rather strange career, one marked by significant commercial success worldwide even as the Jamaican market has looked at him somewhat askance. With Merci, Blondy celebrates his 20th anniversary as an international reggae star by going into the studio to record for the first time in four years, and he sounds as strong as ever. There are no surprises here: He still specializes in an aggressively old-school approach to the music, his sound dominated by horns, female backing vocals, and real drums, guitar, and bass. His voice is nasal and piercing, but not unpleasantly so, and he writes good melodies that are not quite enough to stick in the head permanently but are strong enough to hold your attention. As usual, his best lyrics are the French ones; on "Politruc" he offers the commonsense observation "Moi, j'ai peur des mitraillettes" ("As for me, I'm afraid of machine guns"), and he is joined by the excellent French toasters Saian Supa Crew on a strange but intriguing adaptation of the O'Jays' "For the Love of Money." Another fun but bizarre moment is his cover version of Free's "It's All Right," rendered here as "Hey Jack." The only misstep comes right at the end of the program, with the rather boring and superfluous "Le Feu." Highly recommended overall. ~ Rick Anderson
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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

Six years old when it finally reached America, Elohim isn't the great lost Alpha Blondy album as much as it is an exciting collection of tunes with a crummy cover and so-so production. The original Elohim cover displayed Blondy as a righteous, cross-carrying warrior, but ignore the post-concert, shoved-in-the-corner singer here and you're in for an excellent -- sometimes chilling -- set of conscious lyrics with breezy music. Breezy to a fault, actually, since Blondy's Solar System band seems flattened by the thin production most of the time. Compare the version of "Black Samourai" on the live Paris Bercy album to the one included here for proof, or consider how the wicked lyric "We take no prisoners/And we eat the wounded" sits on mannered, sterile beats. The tougher Merci from 2002 displayed that Blondy would grow as an executive producer, but Elohim is filled with prime Blondy songs, ones good enough to forgive the musical stiffness. "The Devil's Tail" is up there with his best, "Take No Prisoner" is tougher than tough, and "Black Samourai" became the man's anthem. To Shanachie's credit, Elohim is 80 percent in French and the label does an excellent job of translating the lyrics for the booklet. Elohim is hardly the first reggae album to be brought down a peg by cheap, sterile production, but it makes you pine harder than usual for what could have been. ~ David Jeffries
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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

Alpha Blondy storms back with his best release since Apartheid Is Nazism. Nothing much has changed stylistically for Blondy, as he is still able to pound out throbbing, international reggae laced with sharp messages of peace, love, and universality. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid some of the experimental failures which plagued other albums, Yitzhak Rabin was recorded at the Tuff Gong studios in Kingston, Jamaica and accompanying vocals were provided by the I-Threes. "Saraka" is an immediate standout, complete with characteristically majestic horns, a feral flute hook, and, of course, Blondy and the I-Threes' mellifluous vocals. These same elements combine seamlessly throughout the entire album and leave great music in their wake. "Bakoroni" and "Les Imbeciles" are other great examples of Blondy at his best. Even the weak ballad "Les Armes de Therese" is saved by his gritty vocals. While Yitzhak Rabin can't be considered a step forward for Blondy, it is a graceful step back to what made him an international star. ~ Matthew Hilburn
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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

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Reggae - Released January 29, 2016 | VP Records

Alpha Blondy is well known for his messages of African unity (he hails from the Ivory Coast) and his penchant for singing in multiple languages (including French, Hebrew, and Arabic). Yet it's Blondy’s special sonic blend of traditional roots reggae and African sounds that puts him over, and this fusion is more evident than ever on Jah Victory. While many of the album’s trance-like grooves recall hardcore roots acts like Burning Spear, other tracks such as “Le Bai des Combattus” and “Cameroun” pulse with African rhythms. A reggaefied cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” adds further flavor. ~ Anthony Tognazzini