Pre-1976, Winston McIntosh (AKA Peter Tosh) was not as recognized nearly as much as he is today. Though he was an important creative forces within the Reggae greats known as The Wailers, Tosh along with a variety of other talented members were overshadowed by front man Bob Marley. However, Tosh still managed to write some of Reggae’s key songs and guitar licks while with The Wailers. But of course, those two factors did not bring him as much appreciation as he deserves, that is until he finally left.
Finally after leaving the Wailers, Peter Tosh would embark upon a solo career that would get him much recognition as a radical musician and a leader for many. Albums like Equal Rights
and Mama Africa
would gained the Jamaican respect among Jamaicans and generally most. But before all of these constant radical movements, Tosh had set himself off with a rebellious album of the lightest, that would surprisingly be the climax to his career, in the opinions of many.
is surely as close to perfection as an artist could possibly get. The album contains hardly any weak moments, making Legalize It
practically a perfect example of a classic Reggae album. The nine tracks that make the album are merely a combination of catchy and lively tracks, and a variety of ballads and slower tunes. Though every track is quite simple, the vocals do not contain the highest rank of talent and the writing is not as special as it will become, Legalize It
is oddly satisfying and enjoyable. Tosh’s quirk and personality shines through each of the nine tracks wonderfully along with his own style being lodged in their somewhere.
Peter Tosh’s debut album starts off a little weaker than the oncoming songs, but still quite nicely with the title track, “Legalize it". Though the song contains a wonderful rhythm, the lyrics are where the song comes up short. Now I may be wrong, but I have always been told that marijuana (The drug discussed in the song) was legal in Tosh’s native Jamaica; making this track’s topic to be pointless, but I’m probably wrong. Other than the iffy lyrics, the song does not incorporate the most appealing melody. It is just rather not the best moment.
Following the title track comes a fantastic piece of work in “Burial". This melodically wonderful display of catchiness and Reggae revived my attitude towards this debut. Though the lyrics are quite incoherent and rather hard to grasp, it is almost irrelevant; Tosh’s style and sound just matches the music so wonderfully that the meanings of the words hardly matter. The tune is of course based upon a solid beat (similar to most Reggae songs) which enables Tosh to sway the melody a variety of times, but still keep consistent. “Burial" is an absolutely wonderful song, however the track did not appeal to me nearly as much on my first listen as it does currently.
In my opinion, it would be quite hard to make a follow up track that can even compare to “Burial". Surprisingly, Peter managed to write a song that is arguably one of the best songs I have ever heard, let alone my favorite Reggae song. “Whatcha Gonna Do" is simply a upbeat track with (once again) a fantastic melody. I have never really acknowledged how wonderful of a melodic writer Tosh is until now. This third track is simply about various members of a family who happen to get arrested/held captive for marijuana possession, along with other reasons. “Whatcha Gonna Do" is most certainly the climax of Legalize It.
Next up is much less strait forward and angry/depressed song. “No Sympathy" is of course about the title; a lack of sympathy. “No Sympathy" is definitely a well done track. It is filled with nice lead guitar lines, a powerful rhythm provided by many of his friends and familiar contemporaries, and a wonderful attitude let out from Peter Tosh. “Why Must I Cry" follows. This fifth track is kind of a pessimistic song that is sung in a depressive manner, but with an upbeat musical accompaniment. The drumming and percussion along with Tosh’s voice particularly stick out in my opinion.
Following “Why Must I Cry" will be “Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praised)". This track obviously contains some religious meaning and reference, but I do not completely understand the meaning or complete point of every aspect of the song. However, I do realize it of course has to do with marijuana (like various tracks on this very album). For the line, “He maketh the grass to grow for animals. Jah make the herb for man" clearly reveals some of the song’s meaning. Like its questionable concept, the song is also interesting. It most certainly includes an amount of enigmatic attitude coming from Tosh, with help from the odd sound effects and the synthesizer in the background. The track’s formula also slightly resembles the title track’s formula.
An upbeat track appears once again. “Ketchy Shuby" is a nice and catchy song with what seems to be a simple meaning. The lyrics are of course not poetically genius, but they present no reason for one to complain. The tune is quite strait forward, with an exception due to the title. I cannot tell you what ketchy shuby exactly is, but it seems to be some kind of game, though I am most likely incorrect. Good song.
“Till Your Well Runs Dry" is a pleasant slow track with occasional spurts of upbeat patterns and some oddities. One oddity being some of the lead guitar lines. A variety of them seem country influenced, which would make this album a bit more interesting; it is not all that common to find a Country-Reggae song (with the exception of several later day Grateful Dead tracks). “Till Your Well Runs Dry" upsets in no way; the song is completely satisfying in my eyes and should be looked at as a highlight.
Peter Tosh decides to conclude this terrific album with a song that differs from every other tune off of Legalize It. For a difference, Tosh seem to have looked to lead guitar lines, odd rhythmic patterns and a larger role for backup singers. Apparently, the man had made a smart decision; his outcome is great. “Brand New Second Hand" concludes Legalize It
very nicely. Ultimately making the album quite consistent.
Rating: 4.9 - 5 Stars