Sunday, August 9, 2009

Max Romeo's Last Hurrah

After 42 years, Max Romeo gives his 'Last Hurrah'

By Basil Walters Observer staff reporter

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Forty-two years after his entry into the musical arena, reggae pioneer Max Romeo, is ready to hang up the gloves. In a recent interview with the Observer, the singer indicated that he is in the closing stage of a rich and colourful musical career.
Romeo. every Sunday night we have a thing called Energy Sunday where people come and enjoy themselves

With a significant 42 albums to his credit, Max Romeo will, in 2010 release his final album, appropriately titled, The Last Hurrah.

"I am not doing any album after this," Max Romeo whose average is an album per year, told the Observer. He emphasised, "Everything I have to say, I have said it already. So if I continue, I'll be only repeating myself."

On a somewhat consistent note, between Wet Dream (his debut album) and his latest Max Romeo: The Best Of, this veteran has given us so much messages like Let The Power Fall On I, Bring Back Maccabee Version, War Inna Babylon, will be included on The Last Hurrah which he promises will be out for Christmas, a few covers.

"It is my final fourteen. The message that Jah gave me I have already delivered it. I don't want to take it beyond that, because a just Jah works mi a do, yuh nuh," Max Romeo insisted as he about his upcoming 14 tracks album.

Suffice it to say though, this Jamaican musical powerhouse who hails from Alexandria, St Ann, was not only about message music. In fact, it would surprise many to know that among his 42 albums, one is titled, Max Romeo Banned and Censored, which as the title implies, is not fit for airplay.
Max Romeo as a young man.

"Quite a few tracks on it were banned. These are the songs when I was doing rude stuff in the 60s," Max Romeo admitted. "The people dem now-a-days mussi feel sey a only dem know body parts. Is I teach dem body parts, yuh understand," the veteran crooner said.

This was obviously in reference to his album Wet Dream which was an instant hit in Jamaica, but was banned in the UK from the BBC and Romeo himself was banned from performing at some venues. However, this restriction helped to push Wet Dream on the charts.

During the period to which he made reference, he released singles such Mini Skirt Version, Fish In The Pot, Belly Woman and Wine Her Goosie. "Everybody follow me. Back then, yuh have Lloydie and the Low-Bites, Prince Buster. everybody came after me. But I was the original man who named the body-parts," he chuckled.

He explained that he deliberately does not market the album Max Romeo Banned and Censored in Europe, because the European market is mostly geared to roots and culture music.

Romeo is also a household name in France as much as he is in Jamaica.

"Places like France not really much into the dancehall thing that really tek set into Jamaica. They are into roots and culture. You affi a sing bout Rasta or current affairs. The whole continent shares the same view, for I've been touring the whole continent (of Europe) for quite a few years now and the crowd gets bigger and younger," he noted.

Presently winding down his annual summer trek to Europe, which this time around takes him to Slovenia, Slovakia, Morocco, Serbia as well as what was his first major gig in London. In the later part of this year he will be heading to Brazil for some dates and then going back to Europe in December for some more gigs.

Continuing his contemplation of his exit from the spotlight, the singer, songwriter, producer of such albums as Reconstruction and Transition (a phase that is obviously becoming), also told the Observer, "February 2010, will begin the last of my heavy duty tours. After this I am not doing any more tours, I'll just go out for the big ones. So by February I suppose to be out on the road touring. It going to take me right through Europe again, like saying good bye to the road after 42 years."

So next year will see the final curtain call for the 62-year-old artiste whose song Let The Power Fall On I, became the People's National Party's (PNP) 1972 campaign anthem, followed by other unforgettable chart toppers like One Step Forward, No Joshua No, Sipple Out Deh, Three Blind Mice, I Chase The Devil among too many to be listed.

Indeed, an iconic reggae exponents, his song I Chase the Devil has been sampled by Prodigy for their 1992 UK Top Ten hit, Out of Space. Kanye West also used samples from it to produce Jay-Z's hit song Lucifer, which appeared on Jay-Z's 2003 release, The Black Album.

It doesn't end there, I Chase The Devil, is also featured on the reggae radio station K-JAH Radio West in a popular video game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, released in 2004.

So where does the legendary entertainer born Maxwell Livingston Smith go from here?

"I'll just produce mi kids, deal with me label and deal with Mother Nature," explained Max Romeo who set up home and business complex on his property in a little district called Palm in the town of Treadways, St Catherine.

"Is here soh I man set up my little empire yuh nuh," he goes on "Recording studio, distribution centre, CD manufacturing, farming at the same time, plant cassava, at the same time build the community a community centre where mi operate mi sound system from. Satta Vibes is the sound, and every Sunday night we have a thing called Energy Sunday where people come and enjoy themselves," Romeo disclosed.

While he will no longer take centerstage in the music business as an artiste, he will certainly continue to be involved. "So for my label Charmax Music this is the headquarters, with an array of artistes. People like Jallanzo, Nitro, Ruffi-Ann, Sophia Squire (Ratta Tat Tat) and my two young sons Ronaldo and Romario- one ten the other twelve - will be putting out some hits on the road," said Max Romeo who himself recently released quite a few combinations with Ruffi-Ann, Among them are Let the Power Fall On I, Bring Back Maccabee Version, War Inna Babylon and Wet Dream.

1 comment:

  1. You are god my friend... rasta to the death