The Abyssinians Satta Massa Gana

There’s not much to say about this one really except that it belongs on anyone’s top five reggae albums of all time. Satta Massa Gana was cut in the mid-’70s but is best known in its remixed version from Heartbeat’s 1993 issue. This remasters the remix and throws in a few extra tracks for good measure. Originally recorded in 1976, this has a definitive roots reggae sound. The group’s close, airy harmonies sound as if they originate directly from Zion. The lyrical unity of this album is so strong that it’s almost a concept album. Themes of history, slavery, living a good life, education and justice are always front and centre, frequently resulting in classic songs. Indeed, the title track has been so heavily versioned over the years that Blood and Fire devoted an entire CD to its offspring. "Declaration Of Rights” is the other anthem from this set, but every song is a killer, especially the acoustic guitar-driven "African Race” and "Shadrach,” which will make you forget all about the Beastie Boys. The bonus tracks aren’t essential, though the narrative of "Poor Jason White” is interesting. Nevertheless, if you’re a reggae fan and don’t own this, now’s your chance to pick it up at a good price. (Heartbeat)