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Junior Delgado - Original Guerilla Music

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Artist: Junior Delgado

Album: Original Guerilla Music

Label: Sound Boy

Review date: Jun. 16, 2003

Ragamuffin Years

I suppose it ultimately comes down to how you feel about the Jamaican accent. Sure, reggae will long remain a perennial favorite of privileged freshman-dorm stoners, but if you write off any music purely by association, you’re dumber than those Trustafarians will ever be. And you’ve heard all about dub’s gratuitous influence on all forms of funk and techno that came afterward, but let’s be real: Keeping up with the paternity of techno has gotten as forbiddingly complicated as keeping up with jazz. If you don’t dig the music, you don’t give a shit, and you shouldn’t.

So, the accent. Your reporter happens to be a sucker for an authentic Jamaican accent, with the same arbitrary aesthetic prejudice that makes some of his friends fall over anyone who delivers an incomprehensible one-liner in genuine Cockney. Like the accents associated with former French colonies in Africa, a good Jamaican accent makes me immediately pass out, shit my pants and come to believing everything the speaker said, with no regard for the language barrier. I’m also a big fan of deep, plodding beats and tooting hooks, but it’s the accent that I can’t get anywhere but the reggae section.

For the uninitiated: In his sound and his vocals, Junior Delgado is about as much harder than Bob Marley as Sepultura is harder than Whitesnake. He has the most soulful roar in the Caribbean. He’s motherfucking dynamite. Whether he’s demanding revenge, begging for solidarity, warning of tribulation or consoling those who’ve been fucked over in love, he’s got your ears. His voice shreds the scenery so completely, he might break through his own accent and start speaking Esperanto for all you can tell.

But there are other reasons to take interest in this shiny kickshaw besides Delgado’s voice. You don’t strike me as the sort of person that cares about records just for their historical value, but if you’re arriving late to this party and you’d like to get a clean overview of dub’s evolution, you could surely do a lot worse than Original Guerilla Music. Delgado’s career follows the same arc, mostly because of his access to many of dub’s most powerful producers. Delusional savant Lee “Scratch” Perry is well represented here, and Junior also throws back a round or two with Dennis Brown, Augustus Pablo, Niney the Observer, and Sly & Robbie, for starters. That’s how he gets from the rugged “Sons of Slaves” through the propulsive “Row Fisherman” and the gingerly catchy “Merry Go Round” to the glossier late material.

And, of couse, if you care at all about the absurdly volatile history of 20th Century Passion Politics in Jamaica, you've come to the right area.

Perry’s own catalog is so spread out, I would literally not be able to tell you where to start. But Original Guerilla Music nails the passion again and again, and gives you a sense of the growth. It’s a splendid place to begin a fascination with dub. So long as you dig the accent.

By Emerson Dameron

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