1977, Music

Equal Rights (1977) by Peter Tosh

Here’s my hot take: Peter Tosh is a way better lyricist than his former band-mate, and much more famous person, Bob Marley. I’ll make a possibly more preposterous claim, based on my ignorance of reggae in general: Tosh is one of the best lyricists in the history of reggae and, to my ears, the only reggae songwriter I’ve heard to date who deserves attention as a songwriter. (As opposed to, you know, a performer, singer, what have you.)

One of the big hurdles I’ve had with reggae over the years is a lack of distinct, memorable songs which I would like to listen to over and over again. It’s not that Marley doesn’t have compelling melodies – he sure does – but he doesn’t speak to me. His songs are either too sex-obsessed or too vague or just too damn religious for me, most of the time. They might be catchy, but I cannot relate to the lyrics.

Tosh is very different, for me. Though, as a white Canadian born in Toronto in the 1980s, I obviously cannot relate to his experience in any true way, I find Tosh is able to transmit his experience to me in ways I recognize, empathize with and outright enjoy, in a way that no other reggae songwriter I’ve heard ever has. I think this is because he’s, frankly, more literate than the rest of them; he’s more clever, he’s funny, he’s impassioned about more specific things than general injustice and religious apocalypse.

So, I am not saying this is the best reggae record I’ve ever heard, nor am I saying it’s the best ever but, for me, it’s the only one I’ve heard to date (out of 10 or so) that I actually want to listen to.
Great stuff.

9/10

All songs by Peter Tosh except as shown

  1. “Get Up, Stand Up” – 3:29 (Tosh, Bob Marley)
  2. “Downpressor Man” – 6:25
  3. “I Am that I Am” – 4:28
  4. “Stepping Razor” (Joe Higgs; credited to Tosh) – 5:47
  5. “Equal Rights” – 5:58
  6. “African” – 3:41
  7. “Jah Guide” – 4:29
  8. “Apartheid” – 5:31
  • Peter Tosh – vocals, guitar, keyboards
  • Sly Dunbar – drums
  • Earl Lindo – keyboards
  • Bunny Wailer – background vocals
  • Robbie Shakespeare – bass
  • Al Anderson – guitar
  • Harold Butler – clavinet
  • Carlton Barrett – drums
  • Abdul Wali – guitar
  • Karl Pitterson – guitar
  • Tyrone Downie – keyboards
  • Skully – percussion
  • “Dirty” Harry Hall – tenor saxophone
  • Bobby Ellis – trumpet

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