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The master, still on top

By Joe Higgs

Alligator Records: 1985

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This review first appeared in the December 4, 1985 issue of The Daily Aztec.

Back in the late 1950s, while James Brown was still developing his style and the Beatles were still learning their instruments, down in Jamaica Joe Higgs was already playing a style of music that would come to be known as reggae.

Future superstars such as Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh would gather evenings to learn the trade from Higgs, from whom the Wailers borrowed heavily.

Today, of course, reggae is all the rage. While Marley and the Wailers brought reggae to a wide audience in the States, it was Higgs who had some of the early hits of this music with songs like "Oh, Manny, Oh." Throughout the years, Higgs has remained active. IN 1975, he toured with Jimmy Cliff in the United States and Europe, and wrote "Sons of Garvey" for Cliff, which was later banned for referring to Rastafarian subculture.

Higgs' latest release, "Triumph," is a fantastic collection by this master who is still at the top of his craft.

"Come a Little Closer" opens the album strongly. This dance tune is of the mainstream reggae style, but without the overly commercial aspects of, say, Eddie Grant. Other hot cuts are "Young and Wild," "Step by Step" and "So it Go."

If you want to know where it all started, there may be no better place to learn than from someone who was there at the beginning.