This was in Reggae Report in 1998.
“Universal Struggle,” Anthony B’s excellent sophomore effort on VP records,
comes on the heels of Buju Banton’s superb “Inna Heights,” and solidifies VP’s claim to
be “miles ahead in reggae music.”
People can call these releases “dancehall” (since both artists are closely associated
with that style) but in reality they sound more like modern roots, as each disc runs
rampant with catchy, well-crafted, intelligent tunes.
Beginning with the fantastic “Storm Winds” (and closing with its smooth
instrumental version, “Storm Sax”), “Universal Struggle” contains seventeen tracks and
just over one hour of crucial sounds (the CD has five bonus songs as the cassette only has
Continuing the current and positive trend of “dancehall,” these songs are all of the
“conscious” variety, as Anthony B once again has much to say, although without a lyric
sheet the words are often difficult to ascertain. Sometimes that’s the most satisfying part,
however, finally figuring out his messages in such favorites as “Heavy Load,” “Seek Jah
First,” “Waan Back” (on Gregory Isaac’s “Night Nurse” rhythm), “The Mockingbird,”
“Sunburnt Faces,” “Nah Vote Again,” “Marley Memories,” “Rastaman School” and the
title track. You’ll also find a duet with Luciano called “Zinc Fence Jungle.”
As was the case with his VP debut, “So Many Things...,” Richard “Bello” Bell of
Star Trail once again is the producer (although Anthony B and Jimmy Riley each produce
one track apiece) and the sound - as usual - is clean and powerful with Anthony B’s rough
and distinctive vocals at the forefront.
This 21 year-old is a talented, youthful artist who is certain to help take Reggae
into the next millenium and “Universal Struggle” clearly shows why. Beg, borrow or steal
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