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Bim Sherman Tribulation Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Finally the most beautiful voice in reggae gets the epitaph it deserves.

Angus Taylor 2007

Cool yet affecting, fragile but haunting, the late Bim Sherman’s incredible voice made him a longtime favourite among serious reggae collectors. Though he was forced to press up many of his early records himself due to a lack of interest in his understated, spiritual sound, today they sell for colossal prices among enthusiasts around the world.

Back in 1999 the now-defunct label EFA put out the compilation Love Forever: The Classic Jamaican Recordings, but it was far from definitive, failing to include much of his best work or any dub versions. Now, Pressure Sounds have issued this more comprehensive set and it is the essential reggae release of 2007 bar none.

Fans of Miracle, his decade-old collaboration with Talvin Singh, will be pleased to find most of the original versions of those songs present here, including “Golden Locks”, “My Woman” and “Lovers Leap”. Rarities include flying cymbals opener “Ital West”, a DJ cut to Love Forever by Jah Woosh, and an older version of the title track from 1975. Arranged in showcase style (with vocals and dubs side by side) the mix of major and minor key tracks is balanced to perfection. Depending on the mood of the music behind him, his singing is either a joyous celebration of life or a bewitching, unearthly sound drawing you into a twilight world of subtlety and magic.

There are a few omissions, such as “Chancery Lane”, its next cut “Valley Of Tears”, or the cheerful “My Brethren”, and it was a mistake to include the rarer but inferior “Weak Heart Men” rather than, say, the unforgettable “My Whole World”. But until the unlikely event of a complete box-set, any selection of such a talented artist’s work is bound to involve tough choices, and with 23 astonishing tracks to listen to, it would be churlish to complain.

Pressure Sounds have reissued a lot of great music over the years, but of it all, Tribulation is the one album no true supporter of Jamaican music can be without. Finally the most beautiful voice in reggae gets the epitaph it deserves.

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