Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus – International Years Of The Child

21st September 1981 · 1980s, 1981, Music, Reggae

As much a high priest as a musician, Michael Henry (aka Ras Michael, aka Dadawah) occupies a unique place in reggae and Jamaican culture, where he has a government medal for his contribution to music.

Many of his records are essentially religious chants built on tribal drums and – my least favourite instrument – the flute. But such is the devotional fervour with which they are sung that they acquire a mantra-like transcendence when you listen.

This extended number builds slowly, gradually increasing in tempo to a percussive dervish-like intensity before settling into a hypnotic groove, then dissolving into a mellow but pleasingly peculiar dub version with the fingerprints of Lee Perry all over it.

Ras Michael lives in Los Angeles, where he is founder and president of the Rastafarian International Marcus Garvey Culture Centre, and the Fly Away Culture Centre in Kingston, JA, and an international ambassador for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahido Church.