This intriguing overview of the early years of the fiery-tempered Jamaican musician collects tracks from the early 1970s, when Peter Tosh was already pursuing a career independent of the Wailers. The Joe Gibbs-produced "Arise Blackman" is a typical Tosh call-to-arms, complete with rootsy Nyabinghi drumming and attractive, catchy backing harmonies reminiscent of the Wailers' mid-'60s incarnation, while Tosh's self-produced sides, such as "Mark of the Beast" and "Once Bitten," are notable for their stripped-down sound and subtle production.
No matter who's at the helm, though, Tosh's revolutionary worldview, contrastingly delivered in his beautifully modulated trademark baritone, is very much in evidence throughout. Though the militant stance of LEGALIZE IT and simmering violence of songs such as "Stepping Razor" were still some years off when these sides were recorded, their roots are heard here in tracks such as the percussion-propelled "Black Dignity" and the anti-authoritarian "No Mercy." THE BEST OF PETER TOSH is a useful snapshot of a man on the verge of a make-or-break career move (Tosh was to quit the Wailers in 1973), and a glimpse into the roots of the singer's nascent solo career.