Jacob Miller Lives On
It’s both tragic and emblematic that reggae has produced a wonderfully disproportionate amount of talent, and that so many of those talents have died young. In spring of 1980, at just 27 and on his way to international stardom, Jacob Miller was killed in a car accident outside Kingston, Jamaica. Bob Marley had recently called him “his favorite singer,” and Miller was becoming as loved off the island as he was on it. His supreme charisma complemented an original style, coupling reggae with his own ability to electrify and entertain audiences while sowing serious sociopolitical commentary. Tunes like the anthemic “Backyard Movements” and “Shakey Girl” display how Miller was perfectly suited for his era when ’70s roots leaned toward ’80s dancehall. And “I’m Just a Dread” renews the classic Alton Ellis piece with a greater meaning. Miller even scores in very tricky territory, covering Marley himself with a reworking of “Soul Rebel” titled “I Am a Natty.” Today, the success of Jacob Miller is still viewed as the product of a hard-working, multitalented phenom. The newly released Lives On delivers some killer Jacob Miller, with rare extended versions featuring counteractions from I-Roy, Welton Irie and more. Three dubwise pieces complete the highly recommended set.