28 October 2009

Keith Hudson - Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood (1975)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Producer Keith Hudson notched up his first hit in 1968 with Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way." Many more followed in its wake, excellent vocal numbers, sizzling DJ cuts, and extraordinary instrumentals all found favor with the public. What were receiving less notice, however, were Hudson's own self-productions, and in 1974, the singing producer decided to shift his attention from producing others to producing himself. Relocating to London, Hudson set to work recording; the result later that year was the Flesh of My Skin Blood of My Blood album. It proved particularly popular in the London sound systems, as did the following year's Torch of Freedom, resulting in his signing to the Virgin label, suggesting they hadn't listened closely to either set. Although Flesh of My Skin is an extraordinary album, even at its most accessible, it's filled with slight quirks that preclude any hope of mass market success. The lavish "Treasures of the World," sweet lover's rock with notable crossover appeal, is a prime example; its lushness and sweeping melody foiled by a slightly too-insistent-for-its-time reggae rhythm and pattering hand drums. The even more extravagant "No Friend of Mine" could have been a chart-topping ballad in other hands, but is similarly undone by the percussion, disconnected synth, downbeat lyrics, and Hudson's own vocal limitations. Those numbers at least showed potential, but his cover of "I Shall Be Released" sounds like a bad night at a karaoke bar. So much for Hudson's forays into the pop world. In reality what was stirring up the reggae scene were his brilliant excursions into roots realms never before explored. The artist first planted his flag in this new territory with his inspired, smoldering, 1971 single "Darkest Night on a Wet Looking Road," which slides from dread roots straight into Delta blues. Hudson included the single, under a truncated title on this set, while the stunning then-new instrumental "Hunting" delves even deeper into the sounds of the Deep South, brilliantly weaving blues together with dread roots, nyahbinghi rhythms, and even a touch of funk. "Talk Some Sense (Gamma Ray)" and the instrumental "My Nocturne" are further fabulous forays into the blues, ones that would finally reach an apotheosis on Hudson's 1978 Rasta Communication album.The title tracks, spread across a vocal cut and an accompanying instrumental version, beautifully intertwines R&B, pop, and roots reggae. "Stabilizer" meanders across even more genres, blurring the lines between C&W, blues, R&B, and reggae, across an inspired version of Hudson's own 1972 single "True True True to My Heart." For "Stabilizer," Hudson and his backing group the Soul Syndicate Band deftly connect the dots between genres, while "Testing of My Faith" erases them, cleverly twinning C&W with roots reggae. The song is faintly reminiscent of the theme to "Midnight Cowboy," assuming Jon Voight disembarked not in the Big Apple, but Trench Town. In which case, "Fight Your Revolution" sends "Shaft" era Isaac Hayes on a Greyhound bus to Memphis. The music on this set is so astounding that it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of Hudson's dramatic lyrical themes and the album's overarching concept of the black experience and history. On "Faith," he pleads to "be just like any other man," but if his prayer was granted, the world would have lost one of its most unique artists even sooner."

Get it here.