Sons of Negus chants praises to the most high

unnamedThe latest release in Dub Store Records’ unusually jam-packed release schedule is an unorthodox and fascinating one. A Psalm of Praises To the Most High by Sons of Negus Churchical Host is a collection of singles released between 1967 and 1972.

The outfit was led by Ras Michael – who in the mid-70s scored a hit with the enchanting None A Jah Jah Children – and this devout Rastafarian started playing at occasional recording sessions at Studio One in the mid-60s. But he didn’t want money for his work – he requested studio time. And these cuts are the outcome of those sessions.

Ras Michael has to date put out around 20 albums and he has never followed fashion. He has always gone his own way. And that is definitely showcased on this album, which collects highly unconventional music, recorded at a time when beautiful rocksteady ruled Jamaican charts.

This is far from rocksteady or even roots reggae. It’s not the psychedelic nyabinghi that was featured on Ras Michael’s debut album Peace & Love, which was credited to Dadawah, or the more traditional and more melodious Rastafari.

The 15 tracks collected here are devotional Rastafarian hymns recorded mostly without amplifiers. Praises to the most high never before released outside Jamaica. Highlights include album opener Run Come Rally, with its haunting female backing vocals, and the organ led instrumental Zion We Want To Go.

This album sheds light on the music and the people that laid the foundation for roots reggae.

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