Sinéad O’Connor – Throw Down Your Arms
That’s Why There’s Chocolate And Vanilla
CD / DBL CD / DBL LP
October 4, 2005
1. Jah Nuh Dead
2. Marcus Garvey
3. Door Peep
4. He Prayed
5. Y Mas Gan
6. Curly Locks
8. Prophet Has Arise
9. Downpressor Man
10. Throw Down Your Arms
11. Untold Stories
To pay tribute to Irish singer and activist Sinéad O’Connor, who died on July 26 at age 56, we republish the review of her 2005 released reggae album Throw Down Your Arms.
Earlier this year Willie Nelson, one of country music’s legends, released his reggae album called Countryman, and now there’s pop star Sinéad O’Connor who comes up with an album of reggae covers recorded at Anchor studios and the legendary Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, and produced by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. In the past the latter have worked with artists such as Joan Armatrading, Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, Ian Dury and even Bob Dylan, all of them eager to have that inimitable dubby sounds of the legendary riddim twins on their albums.
However, this album with Sinéad O’Connor is something different. Throw Down Your Arms features a collection of songs, which have inspired Sinéad in her life and work for the past fifteen years. The twelve songs featured on this CD are Sinéad’s interpretations of classic roots reggae tunes from the seventies, except for Buju Banton’s Untold Stories from 1995. But truly, this song isn’t out of place as it can be regarded as a modern roots anthem. It’s obvious, Sinéad is a big fan of Winston Rodney aka Burning Spear. This reggae icon had a huge influence on her and echoes of his earthy delivery can be heard in her own vocal style. The album takes off with four songs that were popularized by the Spear, but also the title track of this album, Throw Down Your Arms, is a Burning Spear tune.
Two of the songs included here have marked pivotal moments in Sinéad’s life. Vampire, first recorded by Devon Irons for Lee Perry, was the track that she danced to after her ordination in Lourdes, France in 1999. Bob Marley’s War, similarly, has changed the course of her life and career, because it was the song that she performed as she was tearing up the picture of the pope. Surely this album has its noteworthy moments which include the renditions of Junior Byles’ “Curly Locks“, Peter Tosh’s “Downpressor Man” and Devon Irons’ “Vampire“, but as a whole this collection of tunes fails to keep the listener involved till the very end. At times, like for example when listening to Door Peep and He Prayed, her performance can be qualified as hesitant and rather dull. Overall, this is a well-crafted and very listenable album, with expertly arranged and impeccable “live” played backing tracks. Sinéad O’Connor’s vocal delivery is surprisingly cool and understated, while her selection of songs with their spiritual, militant, and poetic elements are guaranteed to have any devoted reggae aficionado singing along at the highest volume. 10 percent of the profits is used to support Rastafari elders in Jamaica.
(This digipack only contained the vocal version. There’s also a digipack release which includes the vocal and the dub version.)