Review | Songlines

Black Star Liner

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Fred Locks


VP Records


Disillusioned with the financial side of the Jamaican music industry after working with such harmony groups as The Lyrics (who recorded a version of ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’), Stafford Eliot decided to change his life. He became a Rasta, living on the beach and growing the long dreadlocks that would earn him a new artistic moniker as Fred Locks. Inspired by his new faith, his 1975 single ‘Black Star Liners’ brought him cult status. It was followed the year after by the album Black Star Liner / True Rastaman, which has now been restored and remastered with the original stereo mix. It starts, of course, with the song that has become a deserved reggae classic, with its powerful, optimistic story of Black liberation and repatriation, with ‘seven miles of Black Star liners coming in the harbour.’ This was the shipping line established by the controversial political activist Marcus Garvey, who talked of a return to Africa – and of course features in the song. The rest of the album follows much the same mood, with Locks showing off his relaxed, soulful singing on upbeat, melodic and easy-going Rasta anthems such as ‘Vision of Redemption’, ‘True Rastaman’ and ‘Don’t Let Babylon Use You’.

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