Released in 1972, the Junior Byles single ‘Beat Down Babylon’ provided one of the clearest indications to date of the impending roots sound that would soon dominate reggae. The immense popularity of the Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry-produced 45, both in Jamaica and the UK, swiftly prompted a best-selling long-player of the same title, issued later that year.
Beat Down Babylon is simply an ace of an album. Recorded at Dynamics’ studio with Perry assisted by engineers Barrington Lambert and Carlton Lee, this record transcended the type of “collection of hits format” that still dominated the reggae scene. Despite having a stack of great single tracks it truly hangs together as a solid piece of work. It was an early calling card of roots reggae of course, with Byles’ Rastafarian beliefs and social concerns coming over strongly throughout the set. But the tone employed is never one that hectors, he never overplays his hand or resorts to sloganeering.