Riddims in Zimbabwe!
Conscious Mon | Washington Heights, NYC | 03/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"HR is one of the most underrated REGGAE singers of all time. In his most famous incarnation, as lead throat of BAD BRAINS, he is recognized as one of punk's greatest screamers, but his ventures into roots rock reggae get little to no respect. This is on both sides, the punk/hardcore and Rastafarian camps don't really respect him. He is too punk/eccentric for the Rastas and too lame for the punks...oh well can't please everybody all the time right? And believe me, HR DOEs NOT give a WHAT what you think...he is doing this for JAH RASTAFARI and if you listen to "Charge" it's as evident as the light of Selah. This is arguably his greatest solo effort, recorded after he left the Brains( AGAIN!! ) right after their "comeback" tour for 89's "Quickness." Prior to "Charge": HR had some good solo material, but it wan't until "Charge" that he came full circle as aroots singer. His self titled 1984 effort is NOT reggae, it is a hybrid of punk n funk with Rastafarian lyrics, but that is about it. Perhaps because his first few solo releases were reggae hybrids, he did not get notice as a great reggae singer. But he is, he is not going to be recognized as a bob Marley, very very few can shine like the late great did, maybe 1 or 2 at best( Bunny Wailer being one, Bob's former bandmate ) can hold that distinction. but he is a great in his own right and is just as good as Michael Rose or Sugar Minott or any so called reggae artist of today...take your pick. "Charge" is full ahead regage with HR's deepening Rastafarian lyrics( in reality he is one of reggae's all time Rastafarian champions ) and the musicianship is top notch, almost as fluid as The Wailers or the revered Sly n Robbie riddim section. Only brother and Brains drummer Earl plyas here, bassist Englishman is a top contender alongside Daryl Jenifer as one of the best reggae bassies! All the tracks are great in their own right, of course my all time fav HR song is "Shame in Dem Game" to me a modern day "Catch a Fire" becasue of it's important lyrics and flawless riddim. The title track is defintely the most "beautiful" song HR has ever done, and "It's Reggae" pays homage to Robert Nesta and all those who instilled the Rasta belief in the young punk starting out in Bad Brains. Fans of Bad Brains may not like HR, but why not, HR did many great regage tunes with BB, it is defintely a step furthur along Rasta lines. This is one of the best reggae albums of the last 15 years, and remains so, today reggae is just like hip hop...saturated and full of ish and all about ego. HR is amazing not just for his music, but his sincere dedication to his GOD and his music."
Mr. Richard K. Weems | Fair Lawn, NJ USA | 06/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Considering the way that HR with the Bad Brains could go from scorching thrash to deep, DEEP dub reggae, I thought that his solo stuff would be nothing but phenomenal--not that I was expecting him to Brains stuff without Brains (which I despise in solo efforts), but I figured him for being able to do something deep and spiritual and creative.
But I wasn't that crazy about the first ventures. Human Rights and such projects seemed rather stilted and inconsistent. But this particular disc made it pretty clear that the previous efforts were just the equivalents to sticking his toes into the galactic river, because _Charge_ has a lot of great stuff on it, all directed forward in what feels like a very unified vision.
It is unfortunate, as another reviewer has pointed out, that HR's solo work may go underappreciated because it doesn't fit easily into either realm of the dichotomy of what some may think are Bad Brains fans (too slow for punkers, too fast for rastamen), but HR and Know and Daryl and Earl made it very clear from the start of the Brains era that they wanted to redefine musical borders. Moreso, they wanted to forget about borders altogether and look more at the meaning of the music than its category--how else would you be able to call the Brains a gospel group?
For HR, clearly the music is about its meaning rather than its label. Maybe a little more easily categorizable as reggae than some other efforts, _Charge_ is full of the strongest stuff of reggae--anger, outrage, a cry for justice, all over a danceable rhythm. From "Rasta" to "Just Because I'm Poor" to "Selassie Fee," HR makes spirituality and the right fight just another natural part of the universe. The reggae is a little harder than what you have on "I Love I Jah", and thrash this isn't, but HR has something to teach ALL of you about Jah and about music, so listen."