"Peter Tosh: He's the Real Thing"

23 Jul "Peter Tosh: He's the Real Thing"

The Miami News
July 23, 1976
by Jon Marlowe, Miami News Music Critic

LEGALIZE IT – PETER TOSH – (Columbia) — Reggae was definitely going to be the next BIG THING – at least that’s what they said in all the musical trades when veteran reggae rocker Bob Marley got signed to Island REcords and received as extensive an advertising campaign as “The Omen.”

Pretty soon journalists and record company people were flying down to Jamaica to “soak up the vibes, man, feel the place where it’s all common’ from, so we can run back to the States and tell all the folks back home that this here reggae music just has to be the next “BIG THING.”

Jimmy Cliff’s reggae movie “The Harder They Come” was re-released to art movie theaters everywhere to show everyone how it’s possible in Jamaica to have the Number One record and be the Number One wanted person at the same time- (Hit records and big bucks do not always walk hand in hand on that island; so people are forced to do other things to keep themselves in guitar strings in congas).

While the music biz wheels were spinning in Jamaican mud, the renowned medical profession, always on the make for a new cure (or disease) began publishing reports on the effect of Jamaicans smoking ganja weed 24 hours a day – (“no noticeable side effects other than that they sometimes fall in love with water buffalos.”)

Even the Windex people got caught up in the whole “reggae as the next BIG THING” and had a commercial showing folks singing Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” as they sprayed Windex on their windows and saw clearly.

Well, if that wasn’t ‘the end’ of reggae, the Stones new LP “Black and Blue” certainly was. The Stones, always now just one step behind the times – “Who wants yesterday’s papers” – How quickly they forgot themselves) – turned in reggae numbers that had all the rhythmic feel of “let’s hurry up and cash in on this fad.”

Reggae was definitely getting a bad name; and it wasn’t until singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon came to Miami recently, (and for days kept singing and humming this infectious reggae number over and over again called “Legalize It”) that things began to look better for reggae.

“Legalize It” is the title cut from Peter Tosh’s new LP – “Legalize IT” (Tosh’s reggae history dates back to being a founding member of the Wailers; but more important, Tosh seems to be the only one who can make this reggae stuff interesting. Marley is too caught up in the Rastas and ganja weed to ever get free; U Roy is a USO (Unidentified Sounding Object), and Toots and the Maytalls want to be James Brown and the Flames.

“Legalize It” is without a doubt the finest reggae record to ever come from the Isle of Misery and Music. You can just melt all your other vinyl purporting to be reggae – (especially Clapton’s ‘I Shot The Sheriff) – for “Legalize It” not only steams with real heart-felt energy; but Tosh’s sense of sarcasm is worth the price of this disc alone when he snickers, “Legalize it, I’ll advertise it.”

Everything Tosh touches here turns to fine-fine music; with the most interesting number being “Till Your Well Runs Dry” – a song which Tosh claims he wrote – but which most everybody will know he stole from the classic and true “You Don’t Miss Your Water”

You forgive the man’s plagiarism as he offers the bizarre combination of Porter Wagoner’s whiney country music with the backbeat of his native island in such a deep elf presentation of ‘love gone bad’ that he makes you remember (whether you want to or not) every lover who ever walked out the door.

Reggae is not the next BIG THING. Peter Tosh is not the next BIG THING. But “Legalize It,” like Coca-Cola, is the REAL THING.

Which is a hell of a lot more important these days than the next BIG THING.