Via the newly established Hot Milk Records comes yet another Keith ”The Dark Prince of Reggae” Hudson album reissue – following Greensleeves‘ reissue of Rasta Communication and Sunspot’s Furnance. This time it’s the rare Torch of Freedom album, originally released on Hudson’s own Mamba imprint in 1975.
The reissue comes with original artwork and excellent and informative liner notes by music writer John Masouri. Musicians include the usual suspects – Robbie Shakespeare and Aston “Familyman” Barrett on bass, Carlton “Santa” Davis on drums, Earl “Chinna” Smith on guitar and George Fulwood on keys. On top of their heavy riddims is Hudson’s odd, non-melodic singing and quite a lot of synthesizer on some cuts.
The majority of these eerie and dense tracks are followed by an instrumental version, which makes this album an early example of the praised showcase style.
Compared to other albums from his camp, Torch of Freedom is funkier and more soulful, and less haunting and dread. Lyrically he also leans toward the more romantic side, for example Five More Minutes of Your Time, Lost All Sense of Direction and Like I’m Dying, recorded over his mystic Melody Maker riddim.
Keith Hudson is certainly one of the most original reggae artists ever, even though his singing, with obvious pitch problems, is an acquired taste. Torch of Freedom doesn’t reach the same high standards as some of his other album efforts, but this reissue – restored into perfect audio clarity – is definitely a welcome addition to the Hudson catalogue.
Torch of Freedom is now available on CD and by popular demand a vinyl edition limited to 500 copies will be put out later this year.