On the opening track of his new album, "Calling Rastafari," Burning Spear reminds us that he was Bob Marley's peer. The two men were born a month apart in the same parish in Jamaica's hill country, and both sang a political-religious brand of reggae that resonated at home in the '60s and won international acclaim in the '70s. But roots-reggae is no longer trendy in the '90s, and on the song "As It Is," Burning Spear (a k a Winston Rodney) plaintively asks, "Did someone remember Burning Spear?"
Someone should, for the veteran singer-songwriter has not only kept the old style alive but has also infused it with catchy new melodies and hired a superb young band to play it. There's a song about Jamaica's natural wonders, another about America's immigration laws, another about today's leadership vacuum and several religious hymns. A few numbers are rather generic, but every song gets a soulful vocal from Burning Spear's still seductive baritone and a throbbing groove from his musicians.
Appearing Sunday at the Nightclub 9:30. To hear a free Sound Bite from Burning Spear, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8122. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)