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Anyone considering buying a Peter Tosh album should make Legalize It their first purchase, not only because it is Tosh's debut album as a solo artist, but because it is an ideal introduction to what he offers both as a musician and social commentator, which were the hallmark of Tosh's career: a blend of highly crafted musicianship and biting social criticism. Even before listening to the title track, one knows what to expect from Tosh. "Legalize It" is a musical, and perhaps more significantly, a political statement. This is no plea or compromise, this is a forcefully asserted demand and declaration by Tosh to legalise marijuana in Jamaica, which epitomises Tosh's life and career as he would fearlessly draw attention to social causes and injustices that he supported, often at great risk to his personal safety.
Suitably for a debut album the songs are varied, both in their subject matter and style, as Tosh shows his versatility. Songs range from the playful and celebratory in "Ketchy Shuby" to the mournful in "No Sympathy" to the spiritual in "Igziabeher". One criticism of the album is that (for this listener at least) there is not a stand-out track to remember the album by. But perhaps this is a quality because of the consistency and high standard throughout.
Tosh's deep baritone voice is the perfect accompaniment to the message that he conveys, offering a contrast to the angelic tone of his former companion and band-mate Bob Marley. Undoubtedly, this contributed to a lack of popular appeal in comparison to the global appeal of Marley who would spread his message of love and unity in contrast to the uncompromising militancy of Tosh. Legalize It does in fact feature Bob Marley, as well as Bunny Wailer and all members of Marley's band, proving that while his debut album provided Tosh with musical freedom and independence, a close musical and personal relationship still remained despite The Wailers separation.
Legalize It is one of those standout reggae albums that will appeal to anyone who likes good music, not just reggae fans. There are hints of rock and blues to be found that blend very well with the classic mid-70s Jamaican sound that Tosh captures. Highly recommended.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Legalise It
3 What'cha Gonna Do
4 No Sympathy
5 Why Must I Cry
6 Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praised)
7 Ketchy Shuby
8 Till Your Well Runs Dry
9 Brand New Secondhand