peter tosh here comes the judge

A: Peter Touch – Here comes the judge

B: Winston Wright – Rebeloution


After their sojourn with Lee Perry, which placed The Wailers firmly on the map again after a period of scoring minor hits and big misses, the three members each went their own way. Bob went to Sweden to join Johnny Nash and write a soundtrack to a movie (Vill så gärna tro),  Bunny went his own way and Peter Tosh returned to his career as a session musician for both Treasure Isle and Joe Gibbs, with whom he struck a deal. The split with Lee Perry had ended violently and left little hope for the future of the group, – threats with ratchet knives, harsh beatings and a serious and very unfortunate case of theft from someone inside the Wailers camp (*) – so when the boisterous Tosh set about to write new songs for the Gibbs imprint, he was angry, carried a grudge and had a score to settle. Never one to keep his opinions to himself, this resulted in a series of very hardcore songs such as ‘Arise Blackman’, ‘Black Dignity’ and ‘Them haffi get a beating’.

‘Here comes the judge’ is also part of this run and it’s without doubt the blackest and darkest song in there. Just like Derrick Morgan, I Roy and Prince Buster, Peter Tosh plays a judge – a very popular style back then, or so it seems. But instead of dealing with local topics such as other musicians (Buster), politics (Morgan) or way of life (I Roy), Tosh displays a deep knowledge of history and calls to justice a long line of people he holds responsible for the killing of 50 million people, robbing and raping Africa, stealing black people, slavery, brainwashing and teaching black people to hate themselves. In front of the bench appear Christopher Columbus, Francis Drake, Bartolomé de las Casas, Vasco da Gama, Alexander ‘so called’ the Great, John Hanning, James Grant, David Livingstone, John Constantine, Marco Polo and Henry Morgan. Then the court is in session but the judge has no mercy. He will not listen to any excuses -although they try – and charges all of them to be hung. Not by the neck, but by their tongues. Subtlety was never his strong suit but with this crude sentence Tosh again displays a profound interest in history, as this so called Columbian Necktie was ‘invented’ during La Violencia – the ten year Columbian civil war that lasted from 1948 to 1958. According to an interview conducted by Wailers historian Roger Steffens, the roles of the historical figures were played by Joe Gibbs, The Wailing Souls and various other artists.

All this is set to a soundtrack that somehow perfectly matches the mood: the minor chords of the Satta instrumental that was penned by Tommy McCook and Vin Gordon and released by Gibbs on the Shock label. Winston Wright, in the meanwhile, stays with the melancholy atmosphere and lays down a great, if somewhat eerie, organ version of Satta. A disc not for the faint hearted, but a classic nonetheless.



Label: Shock (Ja)
Release date:  1971
Riddim: Satta
Matrix: FJG3552

Posted: 23-01-2015


* Source: John Masouri’s excellent book on Peter Tosh – Steppin’ Razor

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