Joe Higgs

Pressure Sounds * PS58 * 2008

Life Of Contradiction

Life Of Contradiction

CD Tracks

  • Come On Home
  • Got To Make A Way
  • Wake Up And Live
  • Life Of Contradiction Listen
  • Who Brought Down The Curtains
  • There’s A Reward
  • Hard Times Don’t Bother Me
  • My Baby Still Loves Me
  • She Was The One
  • Song My Enemy Sings Listen
  • Let Us Do Something
  • Freedom Journey – Karl Masters & Joe Higgs

LP Tracks

  • Come On Home
  • Got To Make A Way
  • Wake Up And Live
  • Life Of Contradiction Listen
  • Who Brought Down The Curtains
  • There’s A Reward
  • Hard Times Don’t Bother Me
  • My Baby Still Loves Me
  • She Was The One
  • Song My Enemy Sings Listen


Originally recorded for Chris Blackwell of Island Records the rights of ‘Life Of Contradiction’ were then given to Joe Higgs who released the album in Jamaica and the U.K. in 1975. It was immediately obvious that this was a unique collection coming from a completely different direction to the other reggae releases of the period. Although Joe had first recorded some of the songs in the early sixties for Studio One it was as if he was at last able to realise a vision of his own music that had previously been denied to him: either by financial constraints or from not having the right situation with the right musicians.

He now came with one of THE classic reggae albums and, with the jazz tinged guitar of Eric Gale and top drawer musicians including Earl ‘Wire’ Lindo, Mikey Chung and Val Douglas, it was clearly a very song orientated album and titles such as ‘There’s A Reward’ and ‘Song My Enemy Sings’ bristle with ingenuity, word play and heartfelt conviction. Joe’s songs were always well structured and less ‘groove’ based than the music that was coming out of Jamaica during this period and, consequently, the album has retained its timeless feel.

We have kept to the original artwork as it’s so good!!! The vinyl album has the same track listing as the original. However, the album has been totally re-mastered and comes with incisive sleeve notes, an extensive CD booklet with period photos and two bonus tracks (on the CD only) from Joe Higgs’ own Elevation label.

This album is a true classic and has been a huge influence on everybody at Pressure Sounds. Regularly on the decks in the office when we first started the label it is a superb release that we are all very excited about.


Joe Higgs - Life of Contradiction

Rankin' John, Jan 21, 2008
Joe Higgs was a hugely influential figure in the development of reggae both in Jamaica and in the UK, his knowledge of melody and harmony directly impacting on the Wailers and many others. This new release gives us an opportunity to hear what Higgs himself had to say, and it’s an arresting collection. The album combines strong melodies together with stripped-down arrangements from the excellent supporting Now Generation session band that included Earl Lindo (organ) and Mikey Chung (guitar). There is no adornment to the instrumentation here, no guitar solos, synthesised sounds, dubs or studio effects. Instead, the musical feel as well as the vocal style is based in R and B, and the blues more generally. The overall mood reflects this inspiration. The opening track, ‘Come on Home’, demonstrates the strong influence of the blues in both its structure and mood, and it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine someone like Nina Simone offering the vocal to this powerful track. A slower ballad style is apparent elsewhere, especially on the title track, while ‘Who Brought Down the Curtains’ introduces the kind of chord changes not usually encountered in reggae. It’s the blues again as a basis for ‘There’s a Reward’ where we even find the line ‘sometimes I feel like a motherless child…’ The bonus tracks on the CD release are certainly worthy of inclusion: ‘Let us Do Something’ has a sharper and more angry feel (musically and lyrically) than the album as a whole, while the instrumental version brings some interesting percussion and additional trombone excursions from a collaboration with Karl Masters. Recorded for Island Records in 1972, this album didn’t appear at all until Joe Higgs himself was given release rights some years later. We can maybe assume the musical style didn’t fit the attempts of Island to bring reggae to new audiences, and especially rock audiences, at that time but what was regarded as muted and dated in the seventies now sounds as fresh as ever. Remastered for this re-release from the seemingly inexhaustible stocks of those admirable custodians of reggae heritage, Pressure Sounds, ‘Life of Contradiction’ reappears here in vinyl (comprising the ten tracks of the original album) or on CD (with the addition of the two bonus tracks, originally released as singles). Release: single vinyl album/CD, Pressure Sounds, 18th February 2008.

Ranking John

LIFE... Still Full Of Contradiction

Marcia Higgs, Jan 28, 2008
It is such a blessing to see this album now ready for the JOE HIGGS fans across the world. The clarity is phenomenal, and the bonus tracks couldn't have been a better choice. This album was well worth the WAIT, and is about to ELEVATE JOE HIGGS to his rightful place!!!

Those that know... know....

bmd, Feb 08, 2008
Joe Higgs had the most wonderful voice,
Joe Higgs wrote lyrics of the finest poetry.
Joe Higgs was a bit of a genius,
and though some might feel he has not yet been elevated to his rightful place amongst the pantheon of Jamaican musical stars,
those that know, ...
know that he already sits at the head of the table,
while those artists we have loved sit and listen quietly, nodding heads appreciatively.

Though I have this on a cdr as a scratchy old Lp recording I'm on this like a rash.. , this is a fabulous release, and the inclusion of the two bonus tunes on the cd make it a must.... nice one P.S.

Music to make you weep

Dizzle, Mar 04, 2008
Joe Higgs is an underrated song writing genius. Life of Contradiction crosses borders and boundaries. Its just... classic. There's no rasta preaching here. This is downright human; songs about life and love and enthusiasm that appeals to every thinking person. The production is lovely and crisp, the music is bouncy, and Joe's voice is amazing. Listen!


John, Apr 03, 2008
I had a vynel copy of this album and was so afraid to leave it anywhere that I took it with me everywhere I went. Still wearing its original jacket I'd carefully wrapped the album in layers and layers of material and placed it in the trunk of my car. One day, I went to a friend's house and we were talking about reggae and the best of the best, and what do ya know, Joe Higgs became the subject of the day. While we are all just a bunch of white American guys, we knew so much about Joe Higgs combined. It was a blessed evening. Sad thing is, I absolutely forgot to re-wrap my album in its layers of material and put back in my trunk so yes, it was left on the back seat of my car. Needless to say the hot midday sun came and twisted my album it had no use. I set out to find another copy but this album could not be found in the stores, not even the vintage ones. I was so sad. Then my friend told me Life Of Contradiction was being re-released by Pressure Sounds and of course, I've got my new copy. Morale of my story, always remember to wrap up your Joe Higgs cause this guy is rare commodity. I was without one for 4 years... that's how long. Thank you Pressure Sounds for doing such an incredible job. All reggae fans should get a hold of this one.


some things magical

drumdada, May 10, 2008
I till you this something cant just pass by , If you love reggae you get lessen to this

As good as Abbey Road or Sticky Fingers? YES!

Richard Metzger, Jun 13, 2008
Or for that matter any other classic album you can name. Like many people I first heard of Joe Higgs from Roots, Rock, Reggae and as soon as the film ended I went straight to Amazon where I found an earlier version of this CD for 99 cents. Best 99 cents I've ever spent, believe me! This LP doesn't really sound like anything else in the reggae pantheon. It's less bogged down stylistically by the constraints of the art form and this is a serious plus: it's reggae, don't get me wrong, but not like you might expect. Another thing about Higg's voice is how DEEP and philosophical he sounds. Clearly the man singing these songs is someone who has gained true wisdom in his lifetime and you hear it in his voice. There's nothing frivolous about his concerns. The songs are catchy, oh are they catchy, and they are so so gorgeous. If you love reggae, this is a real revelation and as usual Pressure Sounds have done things correctly. Sometimes you hear a record and you want EVERYONE you know to hear it, too, because you KNOW they're going to love it as much as you do. THIS is one of those records. How this incredible gem remained so obscure for so long is a mystery to me.

There's A Reward

Maxine Higgs, Jun 17, 2008
One must realize that they know what they know, when they know what they know. Joe Higgs maintained that there's a reward ( this was kept in the present tense) and as a result will come to fruition. This reward I believe is multi-dimensional and without a doubt will not create a life of contradiction, as long as we believe in our hearts that "Unity is Power."

(Happy Birthday Dad).

Where does this guy come from?

Ron, Jul 02, 2008
I learned about Joe Higgs when some friends asked me to vote their band in for the JOE HIGGS MUSIC AWARDS. Seeing the album advertised on the site as a reggae classic, I decided to click in and the listening was so darn good I had to order a copy. This album is sooo NOT Jamaican... tho Jamaican, hard to explain, lol. His voice, his sound, his groove, his lyric, his melody, his versatility all sooo above and beyond anything that I have ever heard out of Jamaica. MANY Marley and Tosh fans have imitated them, but I dare the best of imitators to imitate this guy!!

If you really love reggae as you think you do then you should have this Joe Higgs classic. If you don't have it, then get it NOW!!


Masauko, Dec 07, 2008
Well this Joe Higgs CD has moved me more than any CD I've bought in the last say 10 years honestly. As a musician myself it frightens me to know this was not a popular CD. It just reminds me that people are afraid to study the depth of an artists craft.
My favorite song currently is She Was the One. The lyrics are incredible. It is basically about loosing a woman you love to poverty. You can imagine a couple fighting because they are starving and then breaking up.
In the second verse he scats on one track while singing a melody on top. Behind that he has Eric Gayle playing a sort of Benson style guitar. All this is going on in a reggae. Yes! This means he is blending jazz, reggae and soul all into one blistering sound.
If you buy this record and don't like it you probably aren't really ready for music that touches the core of the soul.
The problem is now I want more and just spent $40 dollars on e-bay to have Unity is Power. I'll be searching for Triumph next. To everyone who gets his music, I'm proud to be with you. You are a little more in tune that most people are willing to be.


Issa Aryanpure, Aug 22, 2010
An album for the history books! Joe Higgs' music will forever be embedded in the hearts and souls of his fans, especially this one. He had a masterful way of making you feel, in his very own unique, subtle, and stylistic way, the exact emotions he intended on you to feel. How can you not be pulled in by his magnetically soulful voice? Then at times, the same soulful voice turned into a voice of reason, with firm diction, and at other times, the voice of sorrow. But it was when he was crooning about love; ah love, that you could run your hands over the essence of his music. Tracks like “She Was the One” are evidence of that essence, which carries with it the ability to bring you to tears within moments of tuning in. He had pulled me in long ago, but hearing this album in its entirety, made me reconfirm my seat as a loyal fan, next to the many others! So, in Joe's honor, I say salute, to one of the finest musicians!

Joe Higgs — Life Of Contradiction

White Lion, Mar 04, 2011
I consider Joe Higgs one of the true forefathers of the roots movement and this album is my personal favourite of his.

Joe is terribly underrated which is such a shame for a truelly gifted lyricist and vocalist.

There's a reward is still probably the best track on the whole album and the song just screams with passion. You can feel the emotion in the track.

Let us do something is also a true hit from the cornerstone of roots music.

Joe Higgs — Life Of Contradiction

helen, Dec 27, 2011
Yep, I'm sold.
Late to the party as usual but this record is wonderful.

RIP Joe Higgs, your glorious music lives on.

Joe Higgs — Life Of Contradiction

evadine , May 09, 2012
i bought this album recently.

the whole album is wonderful - 'there is a reward for me, and the rest.

however i have to say i really love and appreciate the the touching, meloncholic, and stark honesty of the track 'life of contradiction'.
the depth and honesty of the delivery is really touching.
there is some thing really special about joe higgs and his delivery.
'wage of war', and 'world is up side down' are the same.
a unique artist.

Joe Higgs — Life Of Contradiction

Abdul-Rahman, Jul 19, 2015
A legendary album and a legendary singer. Can't say more about this album. Out of the crashing poverty came out some of the most refined music ever along the human history. Not only the music but the message was as great as the music: promoting peace, equality, humanity, fighting all evils of the society from crime, greed, bad mindedness, teaching people patience ... The influence of this music on people is unmatched, it really corrected the wrong and the bad. There will not be an other period like the 1960s and 1970s Jamaica . Love and Respect.

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