September 21, 2004
Reggae, Political Reggae, Roots Reggae

Album Review

The JAD label has worked hard scouring out the corners of the Wailers' canon, from which they've created sumptuous box sets dedicated to the band's post-Studio One, pre-Island recordings, a complex era that the enclosed booklets carefully dissected, following the band from producer to producer and label to label. Now, with Can't Blame the Youth, JAD takes a look specifically at Peter Tosh's work with the Wailers and on his own during this period. Obviously, this 18-song set is not definitive -- Tosh composed and performed many more songs than are included here, including the one considered his solo debut, "Pound Get a Blow." However, this compilation does present a grand overview of the artist's oeuvre. Tosh's reputation as "The Toughest" of the tough was reinforced by songs like "Them a Fi Get a Beatin'," but it was militant numbers like the title track, "Arise Blackman," "Four Hundred Years," and "Here Comes the Judge" that singled the artist out as one of the island's top social commentators. In contrast to those blistering cultural numbers were surprising pop covers, ones not foisted on him by money-hungry producers but chosen by Tosh himself. Thus, listeners find a laid-back version of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" and a truly terrifying cover of "Little Green Apples." And the same singer who snarled out a vitriolic version of Bessie Smith's "'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do" (under the title "Leave My Business") composed and sang the pretty romantic ballad "Love." In later years, Tosh's own guitar would feature ever more heavily on his records, but back at this time he was attempting to pass himself off as a keyboardist. The last four tracks on this set, all instrumentals featuring a soloing Tosh on melodica, give ample evidence why the Wailer would never garner renown in this arena, but does offer more proof of his pop leanings. Time simplifies all, and the Wailers' legacy now boils down to the peaceful and loving Bob Marley, the devout Bunny Wailer, and the angry, militant Tosh. Can't Blame the Youth helps reveal a much more complex artist and person than such stereotyping allows.
Jo-Ann Greene, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Can't Blame the Youth
  2. Arise Blackman
  3. Lion
  4. Maga Dog
  5. Go, Tell It on the Mountain
  6. Here Comes the Judge
  7. Four Hundred Years
  8. Soon Come
  9. Here Comes the Sun
  10. Little Green Apples [#]
  11. Them a Fi Get a Beatin'
  12. You Can't Fool Me Again
  13. Leave My Business Alone
  14. Love
  15. A Little Love [Version 4]
  16. We Can Make It Uptight
  17. Evil Version [Version]
  18. My Sympathy