Mixing and matching his classic early singles such as ‘Rise Up’ and the defining, Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell-produced ‘Africa (Is Our Land)’, with hard to come by live recordings and tantalising post-Y2K material such as ‘Distant Guns’ and the disorienting ‘Steel’, the collation of JOSHUA (now JASHWHA) MOSES’ remarkably cohesive 2012 ‘debut’ LP ‘Joshua To Jashwa’ was a feat of extreme perseverance, even by the diligent standards of Mike Derby’s brilliant Bristol Archive imprint.
Thus, it comes as a truly pleasant surprise to discover that instead of a lengthening Stone Roses-esque silence, Moses’ eschewing of the wilderness continues apace, with his brand new studio LP ‘No War On Earth’ (released by Bristol Archive offshoot Sugar Shack) arriving barely 12 months after its illustrious predecessor.
Produced by long-time collaborator/ multi-instrumentalist Mikey Taylor-Hall and comprising nine vocal tracks and six dubs, ‘No War On Earth’ is the sound of roots’n’culture at its best. Continuity with the recent past is provided by seamless reshapings of ‘Steel’ and ‘Jah Time Has Come’, but it’s the all-new material here that really sets the pulse racing.
The opening ‘No Weep’ gives you a good idea of what to expect. Quickly settling into a vintage, Channel One-style groove and lifted by a commanding Moses vocal, it’s highly memorable, as is the righteous ‘No War’: a textbook slice of pure roots, with regal stabs of horns riding a heavy’ n’ potent skank and Moses’ humanity-first lyric (“ecological crises, nuclear devices encompass this Earth”) sounding all the more resonant as North Korea continues to ratchet up its Armageddon-fuelled rhetoric.
Typically, humanity and spirituality are high on Jashwha’s lyrical agenda. “And after all is said and done, what have you done for your fellow man?” he pertinently asks the powers that be on ‘No Weep’, while the title of ‘Power Crazy People’ speaks volumes on its own terms. The lyric from the strident, anti-slavery ‘Good Over Evil’ (“until there’s no longer first or second class citizens in any country”) are copped from the impassioned speech Heile Selassie delivered to the United Nations in October 1963, but it vividly captures an idealism we should still all be striving for regardless.
Version-wise, both ‘Weeping Dub’ and the impressive ‘No War Dubwise’ are from the King Tubby school of subterranean speaker-stretching, though ‘Good Over Evil Dubwise’ and ‘Do You Believe In Love Dubwise’ are both straighter, almost funky slices of urban militancy and they’re none the worse for that.
If Black Roots’ excellent ‘On The Ground’ sought (and succeeded) in its quest to bring proper, credible home-grown roots reggae into the 21st Century, then Jashwha Moses’ ‘No War On Earth’ is a highly satisfying second instalment. The Jahggae Man cometh indeed.
Sugar Shack Records online
Bristol Archive Records online