BY JONATHAN LEVITT
The finest Roots album in this reviewer’s opinion has been given a loving, deluxe reissue by Universal Music. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time reviewing an album that’s been reviewed to death, I want to talk about the total package that’s on offer. First my review is based on the 3 LP black vinyl edition and when I got this in the mail my jaw dropped, because it’s a heavy package chock full of important extra tracks as well as some incredible track by track commentary by Questlove and Black Thought, presented in a beautiful LP sized booklet that’s chock full of some amazing period photos. Spanning 3 LP’s this “Ultimate Edition” brings it hard but if there’s one thing I find a bit of head scratcher, is why not give 180g editions of the LP’s instead of their 150g thinner counterparts? You spend this amount of money these days and you deserve 180g or 200g. That aside in terms of fidelity I played the LP’s back on my Denon turntable with my Ortofon stylus and the sound was warm and expansive, filling the room with a good mix of bass and midrange sound. Thankfully unlike some labels where fresh vinyl is filled with poor pressing skips, this vinyl plays solid from start to runoff groove with zero audible sound in between the tracks. “What You Want” just blew me away and “thumps hard” just like Black Thought’s lyric. This track was actually my intro to this album back when I was living in Beijing. I caught the video on Channel V and made a note to myself that the next time I visited HK to go to HMV and pick it up, which I eventually did. This reissue is a must for fans of the band and people who want to hear a true artwork with the vision and tunes to back it up. With a front cover of black youth being chased in Bed-Stuy by white cops, the album which is 20 years old this year sadly finds an America still mired in racism. But the message that comes ringing loud and clear from the record is that there’s hope amongst the cracks in the sidewalk. Amen to that.
TRACKS TO TRACK DOWN: “The Next Movement” “100% Dundee” “What You Want” “Adrenaline” “You Got Me” (Drum & Bass Mix)