“Forces Of Victory” by Linton Kwesi Johnson - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Arriving in May ’79 was the second long-player from the hard-hitting 27-year-old Brixton-poet, the first to bear his own name after last years’ debut as “Poet and The Roots”. Although switching labels from Virgin to Island, he remains aligned with Dennis Bovell’s crew, a rootsy partnership which is perfect for his Far-I-like delivery and his strife-driven words-of-wisdom, portraying the grim home truths of what it’s like to be a British black in the late 70s. Almost as if on trend, the album actually opens with “Want Fi Goh Rave”, an upbeat Ska number which features some rock guitar as well as the horns of Dick Cuthell and Rico Rodriguez, both of whom would also feature on the Specials debut later in the same year. This is not what Linton’s all about though, and “It No Funny” immediately sets the moodier tone which will dominate from hereon. The classic “Sonny’s Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem)” appears next, and Johnson’s mastery of character and his uncanny instinct for voice-as-riddim-machine regales the sad tale of an imprisoned black youth, charged with murder, and his breaking of the news to his mother, by letter. The lad has become a victim of institutionalised racism; he and his brother had been harassed under the ‘Suspected Person’ law, which escalated into a violent altercation and the death of a policeman. It’s a tragedy from every angle, and this piece is a masterwork. The mood is defiant, not resigned, and the great “Fite Dem Back” does not mince its words when it comes to racist attacks: “We gonna smash their brains in, cause they ain't got no fink in 'em… Some a dem say dem a niggah haytah, an' some a dem say dem a black beat ah, some a dem say dem a black stab bah, an' some a dem say dem a paki bash ah”. This is, alas, a grim reality for many, the man is telling it how it is. Album closer, “Time Come”, is another highlight; right to the very end Johnson is firing warning shots of retribution: “when yu fling mi inna prison I did warn yu, when yu kill Oluwale I did warn yu, when yu beat Joshua Francis I did warn yu, when yu pick pan de Panthers I did warn yu, when yu jack mi up gainst de wall ha didnt bawl but I did warn yu, now yu si fire burning in mi eye”. Welcome to ‘Great’ Britain.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:21] 7.2.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Want Fi Goh Rave (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Ska / Rocksteady
A2 [03:43] 6.8.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - It Noh Funny (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae
A3 [03:54] 9.1.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Sonny’s Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem) (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae
A4 [04:20] 6.8.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Independent Intavenshan (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae
B1 [04:28] 7.9.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Fite Dem Back (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae
B2 [04:45] 6.4.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Reality Poem (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae
B3 [04:56] 6.9.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Forces Of Viktry (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae
B4 [03:25] 7.1.png Linton Kwesi Johnson - Time Come (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Reggae

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