Bush Doctor [Bonus Tracks]

by: Peter Tosh

As the debut album on the Rolling Stone label in 1978, Bush Doctor benefited immensely from the involvement of Jaggar and Richards, as well as the publicity inherent in the high-profile nature of the release. Thankfully Tosh was up to the challenge, and although there are moments that are less roots than anything he had previously recorded, Bush Doctor is no slick sellout. It's bolstered by his incredible Word, Sound and Power band featuring the legendary Sly and Robbie rhythm section along with lead guitarists Mikey "Mao" Chung and Donald Kinsey (fresh from his stint with Marley). Although the cover of the Temptations' "(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back" single featuring Jaggar's duet with Tosh seemed like an obvious ploy at crossover radio play, the rest is more roots conscious and only slightly less compelling than some of ex-bandmate Bob Marley's work. The horns on "Moses - The Prophet" seem like sweetening, but the title track, "I'm the Toughest," "Stand Firm," and a remake of an old Wailers track "Dem Ha Fe Get a Beatin," complete with I-Threes-style backing vocals are some of Tosh's best songs. Only the original album's closing track, an ambitious but overwrought retelling of Genesis with Handel's "Messiah," is a major misstep. Yet even here Tosh is pushing boundaries, adding bird and thunder sound effects to his soft guitar strumming accompaniment. It's interesting but few will want to hear it more than once. [The 2002 reissue spiffs up the sound and adds six tracks that tack on an additional half hour to the playing time. Most are just extended, slightly remixed or dub versions of the album's songs, but the previously unreleased "Lesson in My Life" is well worth hearing. The rest are unnecessary but not intrusive, except for a bizarre, almost Dixieland instrumental entitled "Tough Rock Soft Stones" that closes this reissued version on an uneven note and should have stayed on the cutting room floor.] ~ Hal Horowitz

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