Thursday, August 23, 2012

Discography: Bushman

Next up in our running series of taking looks back at the album discographies of some of the biggest names in Reggae music, we go in the very familiar direction of someone who, although probably hasn’t secured a proper amount of credit for the work he's done in his career, certainly isn't someone, at least these days, who ranks as one of the more underrated singers around. Bushman is extremely respected as being a model of consistency and solidity and while his career, at times, has lacked an element of the spectacular, he has also managed to deliver the proverbial BOOM often enough to keep a bigger attention, simultaneously thrilling more hardcore heads by providing some of the most reliable and strongest Roots Reggae music of his era. Discography: Bushman.  

The Music of Bushman

"Nyah Man Chant" [VP Records - 1997]

Lyrical medicine man. The legendary Steely & Clevie were behind "Nyah Man Chant", the debut album of Bushman (who was previously known as Junior Melody) which would include tunes on which the outstanding singer would originally build his name. Along with the title track, this set also included 'Man A Lion', 'Cannabis', 'Grow Your Natty', 'Black Starliner' and, of course, 'Call The Hearse'. This album has very much gone onto receive a pretty large amount of attention and respect, but it isn't really even nearly as good as some of the material which would follow it (it's either the fifth or sixth best album you'll read about here today). Still, it manages to retain a very nice nostalgic appeal and one which very much continues to keep it alive today.  

"Total Commitment" [Greensleeves - 1999]

No problems. no worries. Imagine a young singer being so fortunate to have the work which would eventually go to light up his first album by Steely & Clevie, then having another excellent stroke of encouragement by having his sophomore set done by King Jammy! That was the set of circumstances for the Bushman as "Total Commitment" was steered by the camp of the legendary King. This album was absolutely fantastic and it still is, thirteen years on from its release and it still features songs which are arguably some of the vocalist's finest as well. 'Worries & Problems', 'Fire Bun A Week Heart' and 'Mr. Gunis' highlight a tracklist which also feature winners such as 'Give Jah The Praise', 'Live Your Life Right', 'Babylon Dead' and the WICKED 'Sen Dem Come' alongside a flaming I Lue.  

"A Better Place" [Artists Only Records - 2000] 

No meditation. I can still, very vividly, recall reading an interview with the Bushman in which he mentioned that his manager at the time, earlier in his career, had gotten for him an opportunity to go to the UK to record with a pretty reputable label (even more so today actually) by the name of Stingray Records. He said that he just wasn't into the situation or the idea of it and it was something that showed in his work. That session, as it turns out (and most unfortunately), would go to produce TWO of his albums (only one of which you'll find here for obvious reasons), "My Meditation" from Jetstar and "A Better Place". When  you know what I know about this one (that the artist himself doesn't like what went into it), it certainly makes it a bit harder to appreciate, but I do have to say that neither of these projects were HORRIBLE. They aren't the worst albums you're going to hear (although 'Back Weh Vampire', may just be the artist's worst song ever) and in 'King Selassie I', 'Fill My Cup' and other songs, they actually had a few memorable moments.

"Live At The Toronto Opera House" [Kings of Kings - 2001]

He burn. Looking back, Bushman's first of two live ventures, the forgotten "Live At The Toronto Opera House", was very, very good. I don't find myself going back to this album more than once or twice a year and I really don't have a large problem with that, but for what it is, like I said, it's a very nice live album and one which would look so nice in the digital medium today. The album included many of Bushman's hits of the time and the crowd reaction was solid throughout - you can't really ask for significantly more than that from a live album and this one delivered in both arenas with room to spare.  

"Higher Ground" [Greensleeves - 2001] 

Highest ground. Once again produced by King Jammy, "Higher Ground" was . . . just something else. I've told you about a very good album previously in "Total Commitment" and there is another one on that level to come next - "Higher Ground" is CONSIDERABLY better than both of them - it's one of the finest albums I've heard altogether in fact (Modern Classic Vol. 5). I don't know that I can point to a single aspect of this one which makes it stand out from even a mighty lot, but somewhere in the midst of songs like 'Yaad Away Home', 'Robbery Aggravation', 'Fire Pon A Deadas', '100 Percent [The Highest]', the divine 'Make A Change' and others is an album which has no peer on this list and very few others.  

"Signs" [VP Records - 2004]


The sanctuary. I remember one of the major (if not THE) selling point of an album which is likely the Bushman's second best offering to date, "Signs", being the fact that it was recorded, entirely, as a live album. Meaning that the vocalist was singing in front of an actual live band playing at the time and not over a riddim track. While that certainly made for a very nice auditory experience (and still does) the prevailing actuality of the album is that it . . . was an amazing album. Some of these songs have probably gone forgotten at this point, but this is an album which hi find so many people (not myself, I know remember it well) not really recalling just how strong it was! When you combine tunes such as 'Sanctuary', 'Creatures of The Night', 'Every Day', 'Light It Up', '77 Times 7', 'Pleasing People' and the BIG hit that was 'Lighthouse' on a single release, you have something very significant and more than eight years later, it has lost a bit of its steam. It never will. A must have.  

"Get It In Your Mind" [Burning Bushes Music - 2008]

My song. By no means was "Get It In Your Mind", which Bushman helmed himself on his own Burning Bushes imprint, a GREAT album. It doesn't register on the same level as three albums on this list and it's not remembered as having done so. HOWEVER, given the timeframe of its arrival, when Bushman had already made such a powerful contribution to the music, I do think that it has gone slightly overlooked in the four and a half years following its arrival. Also, as I've said in the past in regards to several different albums, "Get It In Your Mind" is that type of release that kind of makes you think that you're not really taking it all in and each time I come back here, I do so, at least partially expected to hear something HOW I never have before. These days it's the ever wicked 'Born Fi Di Ting', if ever it's the rest of the album, I don't know that I'd be entirely surprised.  

"Live In Paris" [Ajang Music Productions - 2009]

He burn again. I don't know a great deal of the "Live In Paris" release and surely that has to do something with the fact that it was never actually released on form and was a digital only set, but I can say that, although the Bushman's earlier live set was noticeably stronger, this one clearly wasn't without a power and attraction of its own. This album, while it lacks the fire of "Live At The Toronto Opera House", just seems like a more personal recording and there is some value in that. It is also, of course, more recent, so you see a newer batch of tunes mixed in with some of the earlier classics as well which is always nice. Not a mandatory listen, but a very nice addition to a collection nevertheless.  

"Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor" [VP Records - 2011]

The mirror. Not only had Bushman been a large fan of the legendary Peter Tosh for his life, but in many instances he had been compared to him as well. So much so was Tosh an inspiration that, last year, the Bushman finally put it all together in a much anticipated album release which was picked up by VP Records, "Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor", which featured him covering songs of the immortal Red X, something he had said he was going to be doing for a few years by that point. My problem with this album, which I still hold in a fairly high esteem, is that Bushman just didn't really PUSH it too much. Obviously these are songs which are not only tested by time and history, but they're also very well known and if you listen to Bushman sing - if you REALLY listen to him sing - you know that his vocals are, when at their best, some of the finest this genre has EVER seen and I hoped that he would have used them to PUSH some of the music. Instead, he seemed to approach them in a more of a 'reintroduction' type of manner which, for more hardened Reggae fans, isn't as useful when speaking of undeniably timeless and classic material such as Peter Tosh's catalog. Still, this was a good idea and a very large credit to Bushman that it materialized and has gone on to become, arguably, his most high profile set to date. 

So. In there, in my opinion, you have three albums which are GREAT of some sort, including one which is a bonafide classic to my opinion. Bushman has produced much timeless music, many everlasting songs and if you've missed out any of them, definitely pick up something from the singer today. 

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