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Heavy Manners: The Anthology

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Album Review

This collection documents the late Prince Far I's (aka Michael Williams) final period with the Trojan label. These are frequently referred to as his best years, despite the fact that Psalms for I and Under Heavy Manners are graded as his finest albums. But it comes down to track-for-track, the dub 12" singles, and the sound system tracks that he cut with one of the greatest bands in the history of reggae, the Arabs — mainly made up of the Roots Radics band with cats like Flabba Holt, Style Scott, Chinna Smith, and Bingy Bunny. Prince Far I's Cry Tough Dub Encounter albums are well known for their visionary quality and stridently spaced out effects. Far I was his own producer from 1977 on, and he did a better job than anybody who had worked with him previously, whether it be Adrian Sherwood, Joe Gibbs, or Bunny Lee. With the exception of the first cut on this two-disc set, "Heavy Manners" produced by Joe Gibbs, the Prince was at the helm for everything else here. Of the 40 selections, four complete albums are represented, and a few singles. The albums are Free from Sin, Jamaican Heroes, Voice of Thunder, and Musical History. This is dub-heavy, hard, deep-throated, hypnotic, steamy reggae. It's dub-tough without concession to Jamaica's fickle DJ market (none of it is as "pretty" as Bob Marley). Suffice to say, that virtually anything of Far I's from after 1975 is worth owning, but given the sheer wealth of material and the budget price — as well as cool liner notes by David Katz, there is a fine argument to be made for purchasing this set first.

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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Heavy Manners: The Anthology, Prince Far I
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