Before he was gunned down during a home invasion in 1987, Peter Tosh was one of reggae’s most militant performers – a civil rights agitator who co-wrote “Get Up, Stand Up” as a member of the Wailers. That rep has given his music a harsher cast than it deserves; Tosh could be cool-headed as well as hot-tempered, as on the diplomatic “I Am That I Am”: “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations/Neither are you here to live up to mine.” The song is a highlight of Tosh’s best album, 1977’s Equal Rights. Tosh is plenty fiery: Over deliciously spongy roots grooves, he states his politics both personal (“Stepping Razor,” a snarling quasi-answer to Randy Newman‘s “Short People”) and political (the unblinking title cut and “Apartheid”); the bonus material includes equally biting rejects like “Babylon Queendom.” (The other newly deluxe Tosh LP, 1976’s Legalize It, has an even more apt bonus track: a PSA for a weed-legalization organization.) Tosh was never as dangerous as he was on Equal Rights – or as completely approachable.
Listen to “Get Up Stand Up”: