Max Romeo – Revelation Time

by Jul 17, 2020Artist, Reviews

Max Romeo - Revelation Time
Max Romeo & Lee Perry

Release Info

Max Romeo – Revelation Time

Label:  17 North Parade | Format: CD-LP-DR | Street date: July 3, 2020 | Website label | Facebook artist

Tracks

CD

  1. Revelation Time
  2. Message From The Top feat. I Roy
  3. Hammer & Sickle
  4. No Peace
  5. Tacko
  6. Dub A Boo
  7. Blood Of The Prophet
  8. Blood Of The Prophet Part 2
  9. Warning Warning
  10. Heads A Go Roll
  11. Quarter Pound Of I’cence
  12. Three Blind Mice
  13. Open The Iron Gate
  14. Open The Iron Gate Part 2
  15. Socialism Is Love
  16. Youthman Rootsman
  17. Black Equality
  18. No Joshia No
  19. Yes Joshua feat. Prince Far I

Vinyl LPSide One:

  1. Revelation Time
  2. No Peace
  3. Tacko
  4. Blood Of The Prophet
  5. Blood Of The Prophet Part 2

Side Two:

  1. Warning Warning
  2. Quarter Pound Of I’cence
  3. Three Blind Mice
  4. Open The Iron Gate
  5. Open The Iron Gate Part 2

​Maxwell Livingston Smith aka Max Romeo, the former frontman of the vocal harmony trio The Emotions and The Hippy Boys, drew some notable attention in the late 1960s with his pop chart ‘rude’ hit “Wet Dream”, which despite a total radio ban, reached the number 10 in the UK charts. However, in Jamaica he was just as renowned for his message music.

Social Conscience

From time to time the Jamaican singer/songwriter was struck by his social conscience and thus inspired made a few admirable records, the easiest to recall being “Babylon Burning”, “Ginal Ship”, “Public Enemy Number One” and “Let The Power Fall” (a persuasive favourite in the Jamaican general elections of 1971/1972), and the best being the terrific “Three Blind Mice”, an original tune produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. It tells of the blind terror that overcame everybody when police raided a party one Saturday night (“…Baton sticks start flying, man start to bawl, some jump the fence …”). Max Romeo`s vocal soars and screeches echoing the song’s emotiveness, while the slow riddim propelled by thumping bass and bass drum is a most contagious sound. After having recorded several impressive tunes with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry in the first half of the 1970s, Max Romeo achieved wider international recognition and approval with the 1976 issued “War Ina Babylon” set, his best-selling album to date.

Cornerstone

A year before Island Records released “War Ina Babylon”, the album “Revelation Time” – largely produced by then up and coming mercenary producer Clive ‘Azul’ Hunt – was released in Jamaica on Black World and in the UK by Tropical Sound Tracs. The album then was picked up by United Artists for US release in 1978, re-titled “Open the Iron Gate”. Recorded at Randy’s Studio 17 and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark studio with core members of Soul Syndicate and the Now Generation, Max Romeo’s “Revelation Time” is rightfully regarded as one of the cornerstones of Jamaican music.

Three Songs

Max Romeo alone contributes three songs, “Warning Warning”, “Quarter Pound Of I’cence”, and “Open The Iron Gate”. Two songs of Prophecy and one which illuminates the disillusionment and vulnnerability of the down trodden youth…(“Just a quarter pound of I`cense to help me blow my mind, this confusion is driving me crazy…”).

Exceptional Thing

The exceptional thing about this album is the strong sense of emotion, running through anger, revenge, and destruction, that pervade it. “Warning Warning” sums up these feelings totally in a prophecy of slaughter. Meanwhile, spiritually inspired songs like “Blood Of The Prophet” and “Iron Gate” reek of blood, conflict, death and destruction. The former telling of an unholy murder and the ensuing wrath of Jah, the other seeking safety, for Jah children in His Kingdom, from the Armageddon. The riddims are one-paced and repetitive but they harmonise in mood with the whole dark tone and concept of the album.

Reggae Classics

Alongside reggae classics such as “Tacko”, “Three Blind Mice”, and one of the all-time killer herbman anthems “A Quarter Pound Of I’Cense”, this 2020 CD reissue is bolstered by a brace of tracks, including the original 7″ dub “Hammer & Sickle” plus deejay cuts from the legendary I Roy and cult mic-man Prince Far I from the same period, many of which appeared in Jamaica on the Black World label. Also featured here are the stone-cold reggae classic “Youthman Rootsman” and the interesting “Socialism Is Love”, an optimistic song in celebration of the Marxist doctrine espoused by Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Michael Norman Manley.

Appeal

At the time of its release this was an underrated, well conceived and executed album. However, the original tracks of “Revelation Time” along with with the deejay versions and dub mixes on the extended CD version will surely appeal to you if you take the themes seriously and give the music time to grow on you.

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