Draped in the rich colors of African cloth, his trademark staff in hand and his dreadlocks wrapped regally around his head, Anthony B embodies all that it is spiritual and socially proactive about reggae music. For pushing two decades, this heartfelt dancehall artist has been steadfast in his mission to represent the poor and oppressed, using sharp lyrics to confront sociopolitical injustices and shine a spotlight on underclass issues and concerns. With 10 albums of his own, and guest appearances on a staggering amount more (almost 100) in the last dozen years, Anthony B has displayed a tireless work ethic matched only by his zeal for life.
Né Keith Anthony Blair in small town Jamaica, Anthony B grew up immersed in the thunderous chants and rhythms of the Seventh Day Adventist church, where he honed his soon-to-be signature vocals under the watchful eyes and ears of revivalist preachers and choral conductors. In his formative years, the artist also cleaved to the music of Otis Redding and the incomparable Peter Tosh, influences he would eventually fold into his own performance style. Eschewing glossy pop lyrics and empty braggadocio, Anthony B instead remained musically faithful to his roots, with songs built of spiritual consciousness and social conviction. And now he’s on DVD.
Captured using eight HD cameras and 48 tracks of audio, Anthony B: Live chronicles a stunning performance at the first annual Reggae Rising Music Festival in Humboldt County, California. Despite its somewhat chintzy cover art, the disc serves as both a wonderful keepsake for longtime fans and easy, engaging introduction to reggae newcomers. “Hurt Mi Heart” kicks things off, followed by “God Above Everything,”
“Fire Pon Rome” and “Row Mr. Fisherman.” The middle portion of the show
consists of “Trigger Happy Cowboys,” “Good Cop,” “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us
Now,” the forthrightly titled “Smoke Weed Every Day,” “Higher
Meditation” and “Water Pumpee.” Closing things out are the emotional
trifecta of “Tease Her,” “Raid Di Barn” and “In Time of Trouble.”
Superbly directed by Luke
Archer, the concert performance material — an evening set amidst the
legendary California Redwood Forest — is top-shelf, but what really helps give the DVD extra accessibility is the fact that it’s masterfully woven together with exclusive interview
footage of Anthony B discussing the backgrounds and inceptions of all the songs. Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Anthony B: Live comes remastered in
stunning Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound. B+ (Concert) B (Disc)