Joe Higgs – Come On Home (1972)

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Originally recorded in 1972 for Island Records, Joe Higgs’ Life of Contradiction languished in that label’s vaults for three years, while Chris Blackwell tried to figure out how to market Higgs since, at the time, he was considered more of a Jamaican folk singer than a reggae artist (and, no doubt, Blackwell was also busy tending to the ascendant Bob Marley & the Wailers). When the rights reverted back to Higgs, the LP finally saw the light of day in 1975 on the Grounation label, and regardless of the sheer brilliance of the album, Life of Contradiction was very considered to be very much out of step with the reggae of that period–though it immediately strikes the modern listener as the early ’70s roots reggae classic that it is. Indeed, several of the tracks had orginally been recorded during the ska era (such as “There’s a Reward”); the influence of soul and R&B is powerful on several cuts (particulary on the title track and “Who Brought Down the Curtains”); and some of the arrangements, rhythms, and jazz-inflected performances were definitely atypical of reggae of that period. Nothing keeps Higgs down, despite the mess of life–the hardships of poverty, oppression, and heartbreak, you name it; his lyrics are doggedly hopeful: “Hard times don’t bother me/life is so glorious/sticks and stones may brake my bones/faith and soul–can’t cut it off” (from “Hard Times Don’t Bother Me,” one of my new favorite songs ever); “Everyday my heart is sore/seein’ that I’m so poor/but I shall not give up so easily/no, no, no, cause there’s a reward for me…” and “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child/you don’t know, no one cares for me/I’ve never known sympathy/Sometimes I look to the world with a smile/can you hear what I say?” (from “There’s a Reward”); to a wayward girlfriend/wife, he offers unconditional forgiveness: “Don’t let me cross your mind/if I must stay behind/ but if you love me true/all you’ve got to do/is come on home” (from “Come on Home”). [Source]



joehiggs

[Dedicated to H.K. in L.A. and Paul Newport in Bristol]

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