Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Jamaican-born Noel Ellis had an impressive pedigree from birth. His father, Alton Ellis, had scored major hits in their homeland. The international community took notice and so, in 1969, when the elder Ellis was invited to perform in Toronto, Ontario Canada, he arrived with enthusiasm. For a moment, Alton hoped he’d make a new home there, but a permanent stay wasn’t in the cards. Before long, Alton had made haste to England. Noel stayed behind, eventually finding solace in the racks of a Caribbean record shop. The still pre-teenaged Ellis’ decision to stay put in the Great White North resulted in his being on hand when reggae in Toronto finally took hold. This 1983 release demonstrates the artist’s love of dub and his undying appreciation for Jamaica. “To Haile Selassie,” written in praise of the Ethiopian emperor who Rastafarians see as God incarnate, is six minutes of easy-going praise for the almighty and a plea for prayer and worship with clean, lead guitar work and hypnotic rhythms that demonstrate this record’s true treasures—the writing and vocal talents of its creator. Ellis remains immune to obvious commercial temptations, instead delivering grooves authentic to his roots. Sure, “Rocking Universally” has an unstoppable hook and a consciousness, but it’s the latter that wins out as Ellis expresses his hope for the future. The track relies most heavily on the vocal performance to carry its weight. This is music with a message, and as such, additional instrumental layers and effects feel unnecessary. “Marcus Garvey” and “Stop Your Fighting” continue his political and spiritual quest, the latter doing so with a tunefulness that would have placed this record on some chart or another in a different time. Once more, it comes down to Ellis’ ability to plea rather than preach as he hopes to prevent Armageddon with a prayer. Those prayers ease their way from the speakers and into the hearts even if we don’t share the singer’s particular practices or fears, and that alone makes this a record worth hearing. The closing “Memories,” seven minutes of meditation and longing, may be Ellis’ greatest moment. Here, he catalogues all that he misses, not by listing the names of people and places but through his heart-wrenching inflections and honest observations. He moves effortlessly from line to line, melting the most hardened of hearts but especially tugging on strings for anyone who’s ever experienced the frustration of being unable to go home. That’s probably the heaviest emotional moment found on the six tracks here, though there’s time for levity via “Dance with Me.” In other circumstances, this would be a throwaway. In this context it’s a necessary salve between the weighty personal and political expressions. And, if nothing else, it reminds us that in the end, the most basic pleasure of music is simply feeling good. Kudos, then, to the archivists at Light in The Attic for uncovering this gem, a record that deserves a new audience and maybe some deeper consideration than one might first think.