Cultural Roots Hell A Go Pop

Junjo Lawes’ legacy was built producing some of early dancehall’s greatest deejay records but he was also deftly aware of how to get cultural singers to commit dreadness to tape as well. Led by Hubert Brooks, this vocal quartet offer some classic performances on this 1984 reissue akin to the Meditations or the Wailing Souls, seeming to hit a rich vein with a clutch of tracks right from the get-go ("Every Man Has A Right,” "Execute” and "Thief, Liars, Criminals”). The apocalyptic album art matches much of the lyrical imagery in the title track and beyond, with the band creating a Rastafarian morality tale warning of certain destruction if Africa is not set free. Hell A Go Pop isn’t all fire and brimstone though and the second half of the album celebrates things of a more carnal nature ("Love Feelings” and "Tell It To Her”). Occasionally the quartet turn out a less than stellar track (the uninteresting "Lump Sum”) but even then the Roots Radics riddims keep a tough, militant live feel — and this in an era when rival producers Jammy and George Phang were pushing reggae with computer-driven sounds. Hell A Go Pop comes at a time when Lawes was just about to end his six-year reign as one of Jamaica’s top producers. This album isn’t exactly his swan song but it is certainly a prime example of his ability to happily marry roots and dancehall. (Greensleeves)