Max Romeo – “What If” (Stereogum Premiere)

50-year roots reggae veteran Max Romeo is still going unbelievably strong. This year he’ll drop his 26th(!) studio album, Horror Zone. The new album is somewhat a return to his seminal 1976 record War Ina Babylon, as Romeo has gathered members of Jamaican studio legends the Upsetters for a bit of a reunion. The record is a political and social force just like the other installments of Romeo’s huge body of work. The second single from the album is the groovy, churning “What If.”

Resounding horns, classic reggae grooves, intricate drums, and grumbling bass lift Romeo’s smooth voice as he poses contemplative, hypothetical questions. He sings, “What if I tell you that the world is in trouble?” and “What if this was the start of the Armageddon, tell me would you be prepared?” This joint is incredibly silky. It’s nice to hear some authentic Caribbean rhythms and have a reminder of where the current dancehall pop wave has pulled from. Check it out.

Tracklist:

LP/CD Disc 1 (Vocal Album)
01 “What If”
02 “Fed Up”
03 “What Is Life”
04 “Scammer Jammers”
05 “The Sound of War”
06 “Horror Zone”
07 “Cigarett”
08 “Give Thanks To Jehovah”

LP/CD Disc 2 (Dub Version)
01 “What If Dub”
02 “Fed Up To My Dub”
03 “What Is Life’s Dub”
04 “Scam Jam Dub”
05 “The Sound of Dub”
06 “Horror Zone in Dub”
07 “Cigarett Stub”
08 “Give Thanks Version”

Horror Zone is out later this year.