Fallen Is Babylon (1997, Elektra)
Fallen Is Babylon captures the sounds, textures and colors of Jamaica in voices resonant with heritage and a vision that is distinctly Melody Makers. As always, the Melody Makers infuse their music's powerful populist message with an unfailingly optimistic outlook. "The new millennium is coming," Ziggy explains with a reverence and an anticipation appropriate for such a momentous occasion. "Fallen Is Babylon is our message for the new millennium. It's very timely. For people who have spiritual knowledge, we feel it's a wise album."
The group's keen political awareness is evident right away. Full of biblical imagery, the title track is a cautionary tale about the suffering caused by straying from the spiritual path to a path of oppression and conquest. "Everyone Wants To Be," featuring a rap by The Fugees' Wyclef, is a biting commentary on violence in America, built on a loop of familiar western movie theme music. "In the U.S., so many people have this attitude of wanting to be 'bad'. Everyone plays this gangsta character," Ziggy says. "The kids think that if you don't act tough, you're nothing. No one wants to be spiritual, which is the only way to become truly strong. So we did this song for all the youth." And "Diamond City" is about the plight of poverty-stricken Sierra Leone and Zaire.
Ziggy's compositions share the record with brother Stephen's emerging voice.
On "Postman," "Notice"
and "Five Days A Year," all written by Stephen and
the traditional "Long Winter," which he sings, Stephen brings out
some soulful Marley heartache to the group's love songs.
One of the most striking aspects of the Melody Makers' music is it's unflagging optimism. Even when the lyrics speak of oppression and anger, thereČis joy in their voices and a certainty that things will get better. Ebullient songs like "Born To Be Lively," "Jah Bless," "Brotherly Sisterly Love," "Day By Day" and the group's cover of Curtis Mayfield's classic "People Get Ready" radiate a positively that is utterly infectious.
Indeed, "People Get Ready" the first single, is such a natural fit for the band that it sounds like they could have written it themselves. The song has been covered many times, but the Marleys' version is surely among the definitive. "We have great respect for Curtis Mayfield, personally and musically," Ziggy says. "Our father quoted 'People Get Ready' on 'One Love,' so we feel many connections with it. We relate to it. It's a part of us."
Perhaps no other songs on the album better encapsulate their uplifting attitude than the faith-in-strength anthems "Day By Day" and "Jah Bless." 'Life is full of ups and downs/No matter how hard it seems/Never forget your dreams/just take it day by day," sings Ziggy on "Day By Day." And in a voice full of hope on "Jah Bless": Stephen sings, "Hey stumbling block move out the way/We're gonna make it through the day." "That strength comes from faith in the almighty," Ziggy asserts. "No matter what happens, keep yourself up. When people listen to our song, they can understand that even though life is hard, they can still feel good about themselves spiritually."
The spirit that permeates Fallen Is Babylon is a regular part of their daily lives, whether it is at home, on the soccer field (one of their favorite hobbies), or on the stage. "It's there for all of us," says Ziggy. "That is where our inspiration comes from in the first place. And everyone has something they can get out of it."
Click on any song title to go to its description page. Songs with sound icons have downloadable sound samples.
1. Fallen Is Babylon 2. Everyone Wants To Be 3. People Get Ready 4. Postman 5. Brotherly Sisterly Love 6. Born To Be Lively 7. Long Winter 8. I Remember 9. Day By Day 10. Five Days A Year 11. Notice 12. Diamond City 13. Jah Bless 14. People Get Ready
Produced by the Melody Makers
All Praises to the Most High Jah Rastafari
livicated to the people of the earth
all love to father for the spiritual birth,
mother for the continuous guidance
family for the togetherness
-- The Melody Makers