Ras Midas and the Bridge
JML Music Production
Send US$18 to PO Box 7504, Santa Cruz, CA 95061, USA
Review by Norm Dixon
Contrary to popular myth, left-wing reggae — in the great tradition of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear — did not die in the 1970s and 1980s. While the mega-labels have declared political reggae artists persona non grata in favour of mass-produced (and cheap) sexist, nihilist dance-hall, small independent labels continue to release artists pushing a strong social justice message.
Ras Midas is one of those artists. Midas is a self-proclaimed "musical revolutionary", and his music has the smooth melodic lyricism and great horn lines of classic '70s-'80s reggae (with a lot of rock guitar thrown in for the sake of sounding "contemporary").
Born in Jamaica, and raised and educated in Britain, Midas has been playing reggae since before 1974. He is better known in the French-speaking world than at home because his first singles, in French and Swahili, were big hits in France and Africa.
Says Midas: "In my music, I see a better world. That's why my band's name is the Bridge ... to bridge the distances between cultures, to make a type of music that everyone can understand. It's about caring for humanity, it's about the environment, it's about a uniformity of love ...
"My music is about equality between cultures and races and especially male and female. It's about social justice. It's about equality in economics and economic hard work. And it's about caring and sharing, and it's about love and respect for each other."
The lyrics on Loving Vibration are more explicit. In "Tired of Running", Midas declares: "I'm in a musical revolution/ ... Keep on telling the truth/ Wicked men seek after my flesh/ They want to trample down my roots/ ... Music my only weapon/ Singing is my self-defence/ ... No more will I run and hide/ Said I'm going to live and survive/ The system after my head/ I'm not going to lie down and play dead."
In "Loving Vibration", Midas issues a call to struggle: "Marcus Garvey trod for I and I down in Jamaica/ Martin Luther King tried to liberate African Americans/ Malcolm X tried his best/ They put him down like the rest/ Now is I and I time/ To bring their works to reality."
"Let the People Go" fingers the class that rules "Babylon": "You who make the money/ For which we all strive/ You who make the loans/ To keep the governments alive/ Wicked men oh... Let the people go/ You can buy the congress/ You can buy the judge/ You can buy a country/ The price is cheap enough/ You can buy the people/ You do it all the time/ You can buy an army/ To keep them all in line."
Other songs deal with the lives of children in the ghetto, friendship, the drug problem and, inevitably, love songs.
"My Own Way" is a welcome departure from much that passes for "conscious" reggae these days — which is little more than reactionary and wacky Rastafarian fundamentalism shorn of Marley's revolutionary interpretation.
"I don't want to be in heaven/ I don't be in hell/ I just want to stay here on earth/ And live my life well/ I don't need a God to take my troubles to/ I don't need a leader to tell I what to do/ I don't need a hero to make my day/ For I have confidence in myself/ To make it my own way."
Loving Vibration is a great reggae album, and Ras Midas is an impressive artist with a vision. Unfortunately, as long the big recording conglomerates control the means of music production and distribution, most people will never hear of him or his music.