Ominously known as “The Dark Prince of Reggae,” Keith Hudson was born into a musical family in Kingston, Jamaica in 1946. His musical education began as Hudson worked as a sort of roadie for Skatalite and Jamaican trombone king Don Drummond.

By age 21, Hudson, who had been trained as a dentist, sunk his earnings into his own record label, Inbidimts, and had a hit with Ken Boothe’s recording of “Old Fashioned Way.” Not long after this chart success, the suddenly hot Hudson was producing some of the biggest names (and soon-to-be biggest names) in reggae – John Holt, Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis, and the great toasters U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, all of whom benefited from what would be Hudson’s trademark production style: groove-centered, bass/drum-dominated, lean and mean stripped-down riddims.

By the mid-’70s, Hudson began releasing more solo work, hitting paydirt from the start with his 1974 debut, “Entering the Dragon” and his intense second record, “Flesh of My Skin”, an ominous, dark record that earned Hudson his title as reggae’s “Dark Prince.” In 1976, Hudson relocated to New York City and worked pretty much nonstop, producing as well as recording solo records up until 1982. He succumbed to lung cancer in 1984, at age 38, robbing reggae of one its greatest, most adventurous, and unhearalded producers and performers.  

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.

Playlist :Hunting
Flesh Of My Skin
Blood Of My Blood
Testing Of My Faith
Fight Your Revolution
Darkest Night
Talk Some Sense (Gamma Ray)
Treasures Of The World
My Nocturne
I Shall Be Released
No Friend Of Mine
Stabiliser

Keith Hudson – Flesh Of My Skin…(160 kbps)

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