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Under Heavy Manners

Prince Far I

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Album Review

A fairly obscure figure even by reggae standards, Prince Far I was one of the sternest of the "cultural" DJs that proliferated on the Jamaican scene in the late '70s; he rarely toasted (or, as he preferred, "chanted") about the joys of dancing or romantic love; his message was always focused on matters spiritual and political. This didn't mean he couldn't be whimsical at times: He once used his musical pulpit make fun of neo-Nazis for the clothes they wore and sometimes (as on this album's title track) lectured the youth on matters of etiquette, and he once recorded an entire album of Old Testament psalms. Under Heavy Manners, which he recorded for the great producer Joe Gibbs, is one of his finest albums, but until the Rocky One label was revived in the late '90s as Joe Gibbs Music, it was almost impossible to find. Now it's back, and the original ten-track program is augmented by several new songs with their dub versions. It's a bonanza for Prince Far I fans; one of the bonus tracks is a dub version of the title song, and other highlights include the very dread "Young Generation" ("Let us stand in formation and let us build up foundation/For the young generation") and "Show Me Mine Enemy." This set stands with his Front Line recordings and the spectacular Trojan collection Voice of Thunder as one of the best documents of Prince Far I's unique talent.

Biography

Born: 1944 in Spanish Town, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s

One of the many voices of the roots era, Prince Far I was absolutely unique. He certainly cannot be categorized as a singer, although at times — especially during chanted passages — there was definitely a singsong quality to his vocals, and in that respect the closest comparison was to Winston Rodney of Burning Spear. However, that group actually wrote lyrics, while Prince Far I vocals were a stream of consciousness that belongs in the DJ realm. But to call him a toaster is...
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Under Heavy Manners, Prince Far I
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