A rewarding collection of foundational roots, pitch-perfect in mood for its summer...
Angus Taylor 2008
Pressure Sounds' previous reissue, Joe Higgs' triumphant Life Of Contradiction, was always going to be a hard act to follow. But, having piqued our interest in Higgs and his tour de force, they've now, shrewdly, turned their attention to the label that released it, Micron Music. Based at 14 Retirement Road, Kingston JA, this underrated outfit used a variety of studios and producers - including Bunny Lee, Lee Perry and co-owner Pete Weston, who has the lion's share of credits here - yet maintained a consistent sound, fusing the bouncy, carefree rhythms of early 70s reggae with forward-looking elements like King Tubby's mixes and Rastafarian lyrics.
At once both pragmatic and sensitive to their fan base, Pressure Sounds have omitted all but the more obscure vocal sides, favouring the deejay cuts and dubs. So we only hear Cornell Campbell's Wherever I Lay My Hat, Stars and Keep On Running as the respective backing to I Roy's toasts for Mad Mad Hatter and the title track, and his stylistic progenitor U Roy's patter on The Right To Live. Also missing is the brooding Satta Dread by Wayne Jarrett, whose sweet voice is heard via Jah Stitch's Conference At Waterhouse and its flip.
Of the vocals that do feature the strongest are Studio 1 rarity Our Rights by The Defenders, a beguiling blend of happy-go-lucky music and pan-African sentiment, and Junior Byles' take on Ain't Too Proud To Beg, which isn’t quite equal to Pat Kelly's later cut for Bunny Lee, yet still boasts some very nice horns. The Father Of Reggae, Higgs himself, gives a Rasta appraisal of the Harder They Come-style 'take what's mine' ethos during The Wages Of Crime, which suffers slightly from background hiss. Fortunately the drum-and-bass-heavy King Tubby's dub does not.
Unlike the genre-crossing Life Of Contradiction, Every Mouth Must Be Fed is aimed more at the serious reggae historian, who may well buy it for Our Rights and its version alone. It mightn't be the most high-impact Pressure Sounds album, but it's a rewarding collection of foundational roots, pitch-perfect in mood for its summer release.