Friday, March 7, 2014

Mystic Man

Peter Tosh - Mystic Man - 1979

What's so great about former Wailer, Peter Tosh's fourth solo album?  Reggae and disco.  Yes, this is a reggae album, but it's also so much more!  DISCO! (Simmer down, you have to wait until Side B for that.)

Our copy -
printed on the flimsiest material ever -
possibly tissue paper
Mystic Man features stunning lead tracks on both sides.  Side A's title track is loaded with swirling, off-kilter chords, congas, and horns.  The drums are insane and all over the place: spare at times, wild in others, and downright bad for a few frames.  Flute flourishes and backing soprano vocals complete the package.  Lyrics on "Mystic Man" are sharp and highly quotable, especially during breakfast.  The first stanza indicates that Mr. Tosh "don't drink no champagne, don't sniff them cocaine, don't take a morphine, and don't take no heroin," but each thing he don't do is perfectly **echoed** by the chirping female vocalists.  He then busts out clever --responses--:

I man don't
Eat up your fried chicken
**Eat up your fried chicken**
--Not lickin'--

I man don't
Eat up them frankfurters
**Eat up them frankfurters**

I man don't
Eat down the hamburger
**Eat down the hamburger**
--Can't do that--

I man don't
Drink pink, blue, yellow, green soda
**Soda pop, soda pop**

He's "a man of the past, living in the present, and walking in the future."  Quite the model man.  This should not be mistaken for anything other than a muscular reggae manifesto.  He's "got to be a mystic man."  Frankly, him listing all of things that a Mystic Man don't do, you have to wonder: what's left?  Me thinks it's the ganja.

To get Side B rolling (rolling what you might ask), ominous congas start, followed by bass chords, Tosh's electric guitar, enter some keyboards, and full on horns to create the epic disco track of "Buk-In-Hamm Palace."  Reggae and disco, in the same song.  Cats and dogs, living together.  MASS HYSTERIA!  Why have the VVers not discovered more of this!?!  It is impossible not to groove out to it as you are immersed in the eight minutes of reggae-disco fusion that Tosh creates here.  You, and anyone else within earshot, will be dancing.  It is totally unique and is a large part of the "wow" factor to this album.  The music itself is the "wow," not even the fact he is singing about smoking out Buckingham Palace.  If you aren't too busy grooving and can cut through his thick Jamaican accent, the lyrics will make you giggle.  Ha, you have the giggles!  The VVers wouldn't expect anything less from the anti-establishmentary Tosh.  The remainder of the album tracks are solid reggae that hew more closely to Tosh's other albums themes about equal rights, political freedom, and especially non-commercialism.  "Fight On" is a call to arms to "fight on and free your fellow man" accompanied by "shooby-doos."  Good PMA on this one.  "Crystal Ball" has a stark message about the evils of oppression.  Of his albums, the VVers consider this Tosh's best, second only to Equal Rights.  The combination of powerful lyrics, catchy reggae beats, and playful style makes it pop!
**soda pop, soda pop**

Interesting fact, Tosh was an avid unicyclist as pictured on the back cover of Mystic Man.  Not everyone can do that you know.  Album photos by Annie Leibovitz by the way.  The VVers' copy is the original Jamaican pressing (Discogs told us so) on Intel-Diplo H.I.M. (Tosh's very own record label).  They might have printed it on cereal box stock cardboard as it is the flimsiest sleeve the VVers have ever owned.

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