Max Romeo – One Step Forward

31st May 2023 · 1970s, 1975, Music, Reggae

Rewind to 1975 and here’s an infectious tune by Max Romeo, one of reggae’s great survivors – still performing at the age of 78.

It’s written and produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and the music’s by his Upsetters band including the unparalleled rhythm section of Sly and Robbie.

It is a remarkable 55 years ago that Max Romeo had his breakthrough hit, Wet Dream.

It was banned by the BBC for its “suggestive” lyrics – Max insisted it was about a leaky roof – but still became a UK Top Ten hit in 1969.

In fact Max had begun singing even before then, in a vocal group called The Emotions (later The Hippy Boys), whose modest success with Buy You A Rainbow and the skinhead favourite Clap Clap allowed him to stop working on a sugar plantation.

When he teamed up with Lee Perry in 1975 this was one of the results, along with a political update of the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice, about a police raid on a party.

The next year he had his biggest success, blending politics and religion on his album War Ina Babylon, enjoying hits with the title track and Chase The Devil – later famously sampled by The Prodigy on Out Of Space.

And in 1980, after moving to New York, he sang backing vocals on The Rolling Stones’ album Emotional Rescue.

More recently, he has collaborated with his two sons, Ronaldo and Romario (he’s obviously a fan of Brazil), under their joint performing name Rominal, and his daughter Azana has begun a recording career under the name Xana Romeo.