At the end of the 1970s, Keith Hudson had managed to overcome the commercial failure of earlier releases such as Too Expensive (his only album for Virgin) by releasing the universally well-received Rasta Communication. Initially released on his Joint record label, and subsequently for wider distribution on Greensleeves, Rasta Communication looked set to propel Keith Hudson at last toward the reggae stardom of some of his contemporaries. But this was not to be. Subsequent releases did not always strike the mood of the moment as reggae evolved during the 80s, and Keith Hudson died in 1984 at a time when he was still actively recording with ex-Wailers Carlton and Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett.

Listened to afresh, Rasta Communication, recorded at Randy’s Studio and Channel One in Jamaica, at Chalk Farm studios in London, and mixed at King Tubby’s, still sets a musical benchmark. The musicians involved include Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar, with Prince Jammy and Clive Chin to be found amongst the engineering credits and not surprisingly the production values are high throughout.

Overall the songs combine melodic reggae tracks such as I’m Not Satisfied with roots songs like Felt We Felt the Strain, while the two versions included of Jonah rock along in classic reggae style. For this brand new Greensleeves release, the ten tracks of the original vinyl album are supplemented by five further 12” mixes and versions, only one of which (the 12” version of Nah Skin Up) was included on the earlier Greensleeves CD release of the album.

Still more, this ‘deluxe edition’ now includes a second disc consisting of dub versions of the entire album with some standout dubs – including My Eyes are Red  Dub and I Broke the Comb Dub, plus another Jonah version – that stand alongside any of the dub classics of the time.

This release finally does credit to the potential of this album. Listen to it if you can alongside his other great reggae release – 1974’s Pick a Dub – and you’ll know all you need to know about Keith Hudson.

Keith Hudson. Rasta Communication deluxe edition, double-CD, Greensleeves Records, release April 2012

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