1977, Music

Police and Thieves (1977) by Junior Murvin

The thing I like more about Junior Murvin’s debut album, Police and Thieves, compared to some other Lee Perry-produced reggae albums from this period (1977 in particular) is that Murvin is more of a songwriter than some of his contemporaries. The songs are more memorable to me, not just because of the hooks – as this kind of reggae always strong melodic hooks it seems – but because he’s got more lyrics I can at least somewhat connect to. (It helps that I know the title track from the Clash cover from their first album, of course. Apparently Murvin hated it.)

Murvin’s distinct falsetto sets him apart from so many other reggae singers (that I’ve heard). The (relatively) unique sound of his voice gives his entire sound more of a unique vibe, making him stand out from the other reggae singers I’ve heard, simply because of that range. That may be a silly thing to think makes a big difference, but it helps me a lot as one of the things I struggle with while listening to reggae is the sameness of so much of the artists. If you played me The Congos and then Culture and then Augustus Pablo, maybe I can’t tell them apart. But I will recognize Junior Murvin now.

This is still not my genre, but I appreciate the relatively unique take, and I appreciate Murvin’s lyrics which are, to my knowledge, above average for a genre that doesn’t really prize lyrics.

8/10

All tracks composed by Junior Murvin and Lee “Scratch” Perry; except where indicated
Original LP

  1. “Roots Train”
  2. “Police and Thieves”
  3. “Solomon” (Murvin)
  4. “Rescue Jah Children”
  5. “Tedious”
  6. “False Teachin” (Perry)
  7. “Easy Task” (Murvin)
  8. “Lucifer”
  9. “Workin’ in the Cornfield” (Perry)
  10. “I Was Appointed” (Murvin)
  • Junior Murvin – vocals
  • Cedric Myton, George Faith – vocals
  • Robert “Billy” Johnson – guitar
  • Boris Gardiner – bass
  • Winston Wright, Errol “Tarzan” Nelson – keyboards
  • “Dirty” Harry Hall, Herman Marquis, “Deadly” Headley Bennett – horns

 

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