No Nuclear War [Bonus Track]

by: Peter Tosh

It's one of the great ironies that Peter Tosh was murdered just days after the release of No Nuclear War, for this was a poor epitaph to an otherwise shining career. It was a tough time for a reggae artist, even a legendary one like Tosh. Previously, the former Wailer had tapped into a variety of styles, creating a unique sound that was built on a Jamaican foundation but looked equally to the West for inspiration. But at this time, Jamaica was in the grips of ragga, and digitized dancehall ruled the island, while the West was in a rut, caught between the clutches of glam metal and the tail end of synth dance. So, what was a respected roots practitioner to do? Tosh struggles with the question, but never quite finds an answer. His solution was to try to create a majestic sound, which sadly just ends up sounding ponderous and portentous, with the title track and "Lessons in My Life" particularly suffering this fate. A few of the songs are given a dancehall sheen, but for that to have worked, the rhythms have to be strong, and none of them really are. Not surprisingly then, the most successful song on the set is "Vampire," a fairly straightforward rootsy song. What adds to the irony is that lyrically the album is extremely strong and powerfully delivered. In the hands of an outside arranger and producer, this might have been an album worthy of Tosh's name, but left to his own devices, it was a disappointment, made worse by the shock of his death. [The 2002 edition includes a different version of "No Nuclear War" as a bonus track.] ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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