September 16, 2004

Test Spin: Keith Hudson

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Keith Hudson continues to be one of the most underappreciated godfathers of dub in a genre that is legendarily underappreciated. He is also the most charismatic, bizarre, and brilliant reggae producer of the 1970s, excepting Lee Perry. The eternally out-of-print Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood is the 1974 album that earned Hudson his title as “The Dark Prince of Reggae” and it makes sense since this is damp, disquieted, cadaverous dub that will bathe your eardrums in blood and semen. On “Darkest Night” and “Blood of My Blood,” Hudson might as well have started the entire tradition of Jamaican dread, spewing sibilant suicide notes over a morass of glacial rhythms and mucous atmospherics. By the second half, Hudson can just barely keep his leaden voice from succumbing to the overwhelming density of his tracks; his voice is like Isaac Hayes gargling pitch in a police state.

For those who don’t like getting stoned to paganism, persecution, and paranoia (if this sort of person exists), the album also bears lengthy frond-swaying iceboxes of lazy organs and mind-cracking bass, even offering a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” The darkest album by the darkest of reggae superstars, this is a necessary addition for all collectors of Jamaican cynicism.

Archived article by Alex Linhardt
Red Letter Daze Editor