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Health and Strength

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Album Review

In the veritable faceless crowd of DJs that flooded the reggae scene in the 1970s and 1980s, most of the best and most distinctive ones spawned a host of imitators. Only Prince Far I, with his gravelly, stentorian voice and strict spiritual focus, remained truly unique — in part because few could have imitated him if they'd wanted to, and even fewer would have dared try. Health and Strength was one of the albums he cut for Virgin's Front Line imprint in the late '70s; unlike the others, this one was shelved and eventually lost until a cassette copy surfaced in 1997. The cassette had been made from the original master tapes and was of surprisingly high quality; when On-U Sound's Adrian Sherwood got his hands on it, he cleaned it up a little and released it on his own Pressure Sounds reissue imprint. The results are truly spectacular. Featuring several rare examples of Prince Far I's singing as well as the chanting (or "toasting") for which he was famous, Health and Strength stands with his best work. Highlights include the apocalyptic "Frontline Speech," the admirably practical "Health Warning" (chanted over the rhythm to Gregory Isaacs' "Sacrifice"), and "Clean Hands Pure Heart." Essential.

Customer Reviews

Leave babylon...

and come to Ras-tafari, man I say to leave babylon, man I say to walk outta babylon...


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 equally inaccurate....
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Health and Strength, Prince Far I
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