“When we trod this land. We walked for one reason. The reason is to try to help another man to think for himself. The music of our art is Roots music. Music which recalls history, because without the knowledge of your history you cannot determine your destiny. The music about the present, because if you’re not conscious about the present – you’re like a cabbage in this society. Music which tells about the future. And the judgement which is to come. The music of our art is Roots. Presenting Misty In Roots. Roots music for everybody. I’d like to say good evening – or good morning. This one called “Mankind” you a sinner…”
For a “live album” to be a band or artists most essential release is a rare thing. A few albums spring quickly to mind, It’s Alive (Ramones), Land Speed Record (Husker Du) – but they’re not those bands best albums by some distance.
Live from the Counter Eurovision ’79 is not only a live album but the debut album from Misty In Roots. Whilst most debut albums are urgent and full of creative necessary passion, to capture this essence in a live show, as a first release is quite something else. It stands as the bands best album and is unique on many levels as such.
Mankind with that spoken introduction has passed into legendary status and is known better for being sampled than the actual song arguably. A mellow Reggae / Roots skank with bubbling under words of real warning. A track that bleeds sub-culture and escape, disassociation with the world then… and now.
The musical licks and hooks pull deeper on Ghetto Of The City, laid back rhythms paint a true picture of the Inner-City, here – there and everywhere. “Dreams are just an illusion, pavements are not gold” The realism, you can feel it. The song is a fighting song yet keeps its hands down, peace and bleak hope somehow comes through in vibe and delivery. Its communal feel is its real power.
How Long Jah is a slow burner. The power of the album is that it just keeps getting better with each listen. Suffering and pain is countered with equal rights and justice for all mankind. The vibe is totally uplifting. Hope in the face of despair. Almost a biblical feel yet no religion is outlined – just hope and positivity in the face of real dread.
Delicate organ swirls pad out throughout Oh Wicked Man again with fantastic late 70’s skank musically. There are no expletives on the album – but the backing vocal “eh’s” and “uh’s” suggest so much disdain – and it’s more effective that way – retreating to that subculture and desire to be away from war, oppression and inequality.
Judas Iscariot lifts the musical bar. Hooky and intriguing it takes the album again yet deeper. The album works, as all great albums do – as a whole – and this is a highlight in a near flawless and timeless release. No hits here however, just ones to the real senses.
See Them A Come and more other worldly / speaking in tongues / background muttering noises. That spiritual, all encompassing reality check of the real world. An open invite to step away from most that is wrong is suggested oh so clearly via the power of music and defiant vibe. “See them a come, but me not run“. Near spiritual – yet for all.
“In roots, imagine, trees are known by their fruits, but the children of man that invent military weapons, to gain supremacy, I say natural progression, misty in roots”. The final track Sodom and Gomorrah loops back to the open track stinking of wisdom. The smell is good. Again warning. This time more direct with words of total destruction filling the track. What mankind can do to itself. Look out for others. Somehow fight against this from whatever sub-culture. That vibe.
Roots and Reggae is not one of my best known or indeed favoured genres of music. Yet this album elevates to be one of my real favourites and I’ve had it on repeat for over a month now. That depth and vibe – nay purity even. A reaching hand and denial from 1979 that fits the mood of 2017 far better than they (Misty In Roots) would ever have dreaded in ’79. A stone cold classic of an album. If the time is not right for your ears, come back in 5 years – you’ll get there…