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The art of Rapso

As many other collectors surely do, I also take pride in the fact that I own an original copy of some of the albums I hold in high regard. In some way it means more than just physically owing an original copy. Your collection is a manifestation of your musical identity and for most collectors something to be proud of. But as a record collector we’ve all been there multiple times when it is not possible to get hold of an original copy, either by the availability or the price, and you have to fall back on a reissue. In the world of today this is not necessarily a bad thing and let’s be thankful that reissue programs have been on the rise coupled with the strong growth in vinyl sales. This also has a dark side as not every reissue is a major success in terms of preserving the music, sometimes even using a bad sounding CD as their source. Fortunately there are more than enough examples who do justice to an album you hold dearly. One of those records for me happens to be Rapso Take Over by Brother Resistance reissued by Left Ear Records.

A true melting pot of different musical influences from indigenous African to Caribbean music, the latter most evident in use of steel drums. Apart from the musical direction on this album it is the serious message behind the music in conjunction with the dancefloor aesthetics that has kept me intrigued to this day. Rapso, a form of street poetry native to Trinidad can be traced back to ancient Africa where people relied on Girots for wisdom and knowledge. Brother Resistance as he himself explains in the liner notes translates the hopes, fears and aspirations of a people struggling for freedom. Rapso Take Over features only 6 tracks but all are extended versions lasting between 4 – 6 minutes with no weak points or fillers. Less polished than for instance the Africa Goes Disco album in my previous post. The authentic recording of this street art and the dubwise production makes this a highly sought after underground collector’s item that has been setting dancefloors aflame for over 30 years.

Engineer extraordinaire Norman “Syd” Bucknor, who produced some of the best music to come out of Jaimaica’s Studio One and Dynamic Sounds Studio, also mixed Rapso Take Over. He is maybe most well-known for his pivotal role in the Natty Dread album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, but remains one of the great unsung heroes of the Jamaican music industry.

Left Ear Records have done justice to one of the best exponents of Rapso music ever put to tape. Both the music and the artwork are restored to its former glory and available for everyone to take in. Feel free to share some original albums you are still missing in your collection in the comment section below!



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