1983, Music

Mama Africa (1983) by Peter Tosh

Tosh has apparently switched up his guitar for a clavinet (though I guess this happened a while ago) and there seems to me a corresponding change in sound from his late ’70s record, but maybe just haven’t listened to enough.

Like a lot of reggae, this music has a bit of a “party” vibe to it, if you ignore the lyrics. (Or, rather, I, as a white guy, associate this music with “party” music.) To my ears, it sounds more upbeat and more “party” than his music did in the ’70s. But some of that is just ignorance on my part. And the rest of it is probably because of the ’80s production, which isn’t obvious, but is definitely here. Something about ’80s reggae makes it sounds to me more like it should be the soundtrack of a party.

Of course, this is Tosh we’re talking about, so the lyrics are not about a party; quite the contrary. As usual, the lyrics are social and political commentary of a kind much more articulate than his former band-mates. (If his music has changed, his lyrical focus has not.)

I don’t know what it is specifically, but I don’t like this as much as his late ’70s stuff that I’ve heard. Maybe it’s this particular band, but the music feels a little too chipper for me given the lyrics. But it’s still catchy, easy to listen to, and, as far as I know, better than other reggae singer-songwriter’s efforts.


All tracks composed by Peter Tosh; except where indicated

  1. “Mama Africa” – 7:56
  2. “Glass House” – 5:52
  3. “Not Gonna Give It Up” – 5:48
  4. “Stop That Train” – 4:02
  5. “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry; new lyrics by Tosh) – 4:04
  6. “Where You Gonna Run” (Donald Kinsey) – 4:09
  7. “Peace Treaty” – 4:21
  8. “Feel No Way” – 3:31
  9. “Maga Dog” – 4:30
  • Peter Tosh – lead and backing vocals, clavinet
  • Leebert “Gibby” Morrison, George “Fully” Fullwood, Robbie Shakespeare – bass guitar
  • Carlton “Santa” Davis, Sly Dunbar – drums
  • Geoffrey Chung, Lancelot “Maxie” McKenzie – engineer
  • Darryl Thompson, Donald Kinsey – lead guitar
  • Mikey Chung, Steve Golding – rhythm guitar
  • Byron Allred, Peter Couch – keyboards
  • Robert Lyn – organ (tracks: A1 to A4, B3 to B5)
  • Skully, Uziah “Sticky” Thompson – percussion
  • Keith Sterling – piano
  • Dean Fraser – saxophone
  • Ronald “Nambo” Robinson – trombone
  • Arnold Breckenridge, David Madden, Junior “Chico” Chin – trumpet
  • Jon Paris – harmonica
  • Audrey Hall, Betty Wright, Chris Kimsey, Donald Kinsey, Doret Myers, Pam Hall, Raymond Hall, The Tamlins – backing vocals

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