Max Romeo


Max Romeo was a performer who managed to rise above the rudest of beginnings (recording-wise) to become one of the first Rastaman singers to record a series of deeply spiritual and socially conscious roots songs.
He was born Maxwell Smith in Kingston and first became famous for his raunchy early '60s hit "Wet Dream," containing suspiciously suggestive lyrics concerning a man in bed with his woman. The song was a runaway hit in Great Britain until older people began listening to it closely and banned it. Though Romeo publicly claimed the song was about a leaky roof, the ban remained. This did not stop the song from making it to the British Top Ten thanks to its popularity amongst London's rebellious young skinheads. With that success under his belt.

Romeo released a few more similarly themed "novelty" tunes such as "Wine Her Goosie" and "Pussy Watch Man" with only modest success. As the '70s progressed, Romeo underwent a few profound spiritual changes. By the time he teamed up with production wizard Lee Perry in the mid-'70s, he had become a committed Rastaman and was singing visionary songs praising Jah and calling the sufferahs to social consciousness and culture. Songs from this period include "Let the Power Fall," "Pray for Me," "Every Man Ought to Know" and "Black Equality." With Perry, Romeo recorded his magnum opus, War Ina Babylon (1976), with the Upsetters. Though Romeo penned or co-penned most of the songs, and sang all of the songs, most of the album's success has been attributed to the genius of Perry and many consider this one of his finest albums ever. Romeo continued recording singles with Perry for a short while afterward, but then the two had a falling out and split up. Since then, though he continues to record and perform, Romeo has yet to find the perfect niche for his silky, haunting voice and earnest style, releasing Selassie Forever in 1999.



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