The Ethiopian Dread

Another great LP from the Boston area was lent to me last week (thanks Joe).  Ethiopian Dread is producer and vocalist on the 1983 album “Rasta Liberty”, singing both in English and Amharic over some heavy original riddims provided by the Zion Initation crew.  Ras Ipa (Ipa Fenton) and Danny Tucker both lend a hand on the recording as guitarist and background vocalist respectively, alongside Iraka Reid and Ifuse Silcott holding down the rhythm section.  Recordings were completed at Downtown Studios in Boston and then sent to Kingston for mixing at Harry J Studio by Barrington Murray.  The label is ZUFAN SOUND with no street address but a PO Box that bears a local zip code.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another reggae album containing lyrics sung in Amharic (by an Amharic speaker that is… the Abyssinians don’t count) but am curious as to how this type of thing was received at the time both by reggae stalwarts and Ethiopian expatriates living in the area.  Roots reggae has not traditionally lent itself well to fusion or experimental genre-bending, indeed the very notion that many hold of ‘roots’ music is by definition incongruous with any form of mutation or dilution.  On the other hand, given the space occupied by Ethiopian/Amharic traditions within Rastafari discourse and the cosmos of reggae–this hybrid is potentially less (or at least distinctly) dissonant than, say, “London Calling” by The Clash.

Two of my favorite cuts both feature on the A side–Ethiopia and Help Jah People exemplify the deep-roots vibe that rides through the entirety of the disk.  Click on the song names to take a slice and be sure not to sleep on this Boston reggae gem if you come across it in the bins.


Filed under boston, dancehall, reggae

2 responses to “The Ethiopian Dread

  1. ras henok assefa

    jah love!!!! this is ethiopiandread i have more music for u.

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