Echoes of ‘1983’ in 2018
As far as the annual round of celebrations for dead Jamaican singers goes, Hugh Mundell does not even get off to a start. And, apart from a line from Junior Reid ("Hugh Mundell, he was shot by the gun") does not get the repeated mention in songs that would at least keep his name in rotation after being murdered in 1983. Even 35 years later, the irony of Mundell being killed in the same year that he declared Africa should have been been freed by is striking.
The fatal bullet came close to Reid. Augustus Pablo is quoted as saying "Junior Reid was in the car that day he died, you know? Junior Reid just sitting inna de back and the bullet pass Junior Reid and hit Mundell in his head back."
He was a mere 21 years old , and Africa Must Be Free by 1983, a roots classic by any standard, was Mundell's 1978 debut album. The other major player on that set, melodica master Augustus Pablo, who produced the album, is also dead, passing on in 1999.
So, with both Mundell and Pablo gone and the original release long hailed as a landmark set, what possible value can a re-release have, save for milking a few more dollars out of the music lovers who still buy CDs? A lot, actually, because this release is a combination between the singer and the producer in his lead instrumentalist role. It is actually two albums in one, a fusion of Africa Must Be Free by 1983 and the dub version of that set.
On this combined set, Mundell goes first with Let's All Unite and Pablo is next with Unity Dub. Mundell's My Mind is followed by Pablo's My Mind Dub. The pattern is not consistent throughout as the final three tracks Ital Sip, Western Kingston Style and Sufferer Dub - are all credited to Pablo.
The song, followed-by-dub format is far from new. What makes it especially striking in this case is the consistency in tone of the lead instruments. Of course, Mundell's voice is not as high as Pablo's melodica, but they are close enough for the listener to comprehend the synergy between the two on a legendary album that has been given good, expanded treatment.
Let's All Unite
My Mind Dub
Africa Must Be Free By 1983
Why Do Black Men Fuss
Book of Life
Run Revolution a Come
Day of Judgement
Jah Will Provide
Western Kingston Style