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THE RIDDIM, MON, WAS REGGAE-GOOD FOR THE SOUL

SHARE THE RIDDIM, MON, WAS REGGAE-GOOD FOR THE SOUL

If music has charms to soothe the savage breast, then surely reggae music has charm enough to soothe the soul.

Fans of Jamaica's most popular cultural export, true reggae music, will often tell you that it's impossible to harbor any ill feelings while listening to the cool tropical sound.Such was the case Friday night, as more than 500 fans crowded the Snowbird Pavilion to see some of Jamaica's lesser-known, but very experienced, reggae artists (all of whom record for the RAS Records label, hence the tour name).

Though the dance space was extremely crowded, no fights broke out, no one was rushed out for rowdiness. Everyone seemingly had a good time. They couldn't help it.

Unlike this summer's Reggae Sunsplash '90 show, the Ras Posse tour managed to put in a variety of artists who seemed at ease stylistically with each other.

Peter Broggs, whose militant stances against poverty and injustice recall the late Peter Tosh, also resembles the former Wailers member physically and vocally.

Broggs' powerful baritone rang out most powerfully on "International Farmer," which praises a certain illegal weed for its place as a sacrament in the Rastafarian faith.

However, Broggs and the others were not there to preach to the masses. Broggs' music instead calls for semi-peaceful demonstration.

His "Rastaman a Chant Nyabinghi" - a rousing call for the end of racial injustice in South Africa - though spitefully directed toward that country's leaders, had people wanting to dance, not riot.

Helping out enormously on Broggs set were the veteran studio musicians in Roots Radics, who since helping record Andrew Tosh's "Original Man" LP, have strived to become a tour act.

Flabba Holt's bubbly bass and Bingy Bunny's wah-wah guitar especially gave an air of Rasta authenticity to Broggs' "No Ism Pon The Riddim," a plain and simple reggae dance number (I'm not making these names up, by the way, folks).

Roots Radics had the first crack at the audience, with Bunny and Brother Dee sharing lead guitar chores on a reggae-fied Beatles tribute, including a brief instrumental "Strawberry Fields Forever."

Their reggae-fied covers, though, have little to do with the pop prostitution of such bands as UB40 (that some people think it is a reggae band is astounding).

The band's solid musicianship and style rely more heavily on pioneering reggae acts such as Bob Marley and the Wailers and their "rock-steady" sound, utilizing strong guitars as the backbone of the music.

Typical of Radics set was "Party Hat," which employed strong vocal harmonies (from Dee's leads and Bunny's backups) but used tinkling keyboards and brisk guitar pulses as sweeteners, rather than bland synthesizers or brassy, cluttered horns.

Closing out the concert was dancehall D.J. Charlie Chaplin, whose spoken-word numbers rely on a strong rhythmic chanting called toasting to heat up the dance floor.

Though Roots Radics has accompanied Chaplin (a k a Richard Bennett) on his most recent LPs, he employed his own support band for touring. Fortunately, they proved more than adequate for his purposes.

Chaplin's "Cope" and "Jamaica, Thee I Love" were two of the standouts in his set.