and U-Roy was everywhere…”
So read the original liner notes to this classic reggae LP, which
originally hit in 1971 and washed over the island like a grooving
U-Roy was a true reggae pioneer, dubbed The Originator for good
reason. Bursting onto the Jamaican scene in the early 1970s, he
pioneered the vocal approach called “toasting,” which in addition
to bringing Jamaican music into a new era, was also heavily influential
on an American vocal style also in its infancy: rapping.
This full-length, his first after a string of singles (mostly on the
Treasure Isle and other Duke Reid labels, run by the famed
producer and studio owner), rolls like a crazy party where a
wobbly, but talented, “master of ceremonies” grabs the mic and
won’t let go. Speaking over and around songs that already have
straight-ahead vocals on them, U-Roy shows the world why he is
considered an iconoclast and trailblazer.
In all honesty, there are few standouts on the album since they all
run a similar course, and all are captivating in their own way.
Modern listeners will especially note “Tide Is High,” originally by
the Paragons (featuring dulcet-toned vocalist John Holt) and
recorded later as a 1980 smash hit by Blondie.
Each track here is a new adventure, and while U-Roy’s approach
might take some getting used to, it will eventually capture your
ears as it did the entire island of Jamaica in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Sit
back, drop the needle, and enjoy.