Pablo Moses ADD


Album Review: Pablo Moses & The Handcart - Live


by Gerry McMahon

Album Review: Pablo Moses & The Handcart - Live

Times were tough enough - between invasions, rising costs and the Covid crisis - when a selection of social media sites announced during the year that the legendary roots reggae star Pablo Moses had passed on. Coming hard on the heels of the death of so many luminaries from reggae's golden era, this news was a bitter pill to swallow for Moses' legion of fans. However, shortly thereafter came the correction that this was 'fake news'. Hence, the good news is that Pablo is alive, kicking and still performing at the young age of 74. And so, long may he last.

Moses is long-renowned for his outspoken - and occasionally contentious - stances on a range of relevant issues, including Africa, Zimbabwe, Rastafari, reggae's direction, American Presidents and 'slackness' (or vulgarity) in music. So, it’s both appropriate and uplifting to find that this Live release reminds us early on of his independent perspectives (in Music Is My Desire). As a young man, Moses had a lucky escape from his parental influences, as he eventually realised that: 'I don’t want to be an accountant'! This track reinforces the point, as it warns listeners: 'never try to be what someone else wants you to be'. That's sound advice from the elder, reflecting Moses' main message and setting the tone for this album.

Having reviewed Moses and his French connection - the crack unit and supremely talented Handcart backing-band based in Marseille - in action in Paris in 2017, this reviewer concluded that the combo was a "tour-de-force" and not be missed. Hence, it's a delight to find that the Live experience from their 2017 tour has now been captured for posterity in this fine 17-track compilation. Indeed, having worked with the Handcart ensemble since 2012, this release is long overdue.

Of course, 'live' albums can't capture the atmosphere and excitement of the real thing. It's a lot like the contrast between an 'in-person' and a Zoom or 'virtual' type meeting with an intimate. This limitation is not helped by the failure to comprehensively capture - in a studio-style fashion - the wholesome quality of Moses' vocal deliveries. Nevertheless, such limitations are adequately outweighed by - amongst other features - Stephane Cavin and Denis Thery's excellent use of the keyboards/synthesisers on a host of the album's tracks.

The album really comes to life around the half-way mark, via a sublime rendition of A Song, followed by Pave The Way and (better still) I Am A Rastaman. It also features three tracks from Moses' most recent recording The Itinuation (from 2017):  Living In Babylon, Mercy and In This Jungle. Characteristically challenging the received wisdom, Moses keeps the best wine until last. Having served some tasty treats via More Than You Can Chew - where the larger-than-life Laurent Albertini and side-kicks Seb Kassapian and Titi Martin excel on their axes - and the penultimate Mama Yeah, the tastiest morsel - Ready, Aim, Fire - closes the album. The Handcart backing band really let rip on this track and you’ll be hard pushed to find a more captivating version of this particular Moses' classic.

This Live release coincides with Baco Music's re-issue of Moses' classic trilogy: Revolutionary Dream, A Song and Pave The Way, in CD and vinyl formats. So, here's hoping that Moses takes to the road again in 2023, headlining festivals and sharing his sweet sounds (and wisdom) with the masses. And as for this particular Pablo Moses and his Handcart release, as Moses himself frequently says thereon: Merci Beaucoup. To borrow from the American author Mark Twain, it is a great relief that reports of Moses' death are greatly exaggerated!

Release details

Pablo Moses & The Handcart - Live

Pablo Moses & The Handcart - Live


Release date: 10/28/2022


01. Intro
02. Music Is My Desire
03. Dig On
04. Give I Fi Name
05. Dubbing Is A Must
06. Living in Babylon
07. Revolutionary Dream 
08. Mercy 
09. A Song 
10. Pave The Way 
11. I Am A Rastaman 
12. Born To Be Bad
13. In This Jungle 
14. Life He Lives 
15. More Than You Can Chew
16. Mama Yeah 
17. Ready Aim Fire