The A-Z of reggae… F is for Prince Far I, George Faith and…

Prince Far I… Prince Far I incantations are deep, heavy stuff. A listen through his albums is a journey deep into the heart of dub.

His debut album, the Joe Gibbs-produced Under Heavy Manners (1976) is a relatively straightforward roots reggae masterpiece with plenty in common with deejay bredrin like Big Youth or U-Roy. By the time of his second set, the self-produced Message from the King (1978), he was already going deeper, using his voice more sparely.

By the time he teamed up with Adrian Sherwood for the Cry Tuff Dub Encounter albums, the voice was often excised completely from the Roots Radics’ (aka the Arabs) riddims.

Supreme examples of deep, dub reggae they might be but you need to hear the voice of thunder (as a later album was called) on albums such as 1979’s Health and Strength , which was lost and not released until 1998, to feel the full force of Prince Far I.

Far I went on to collaborate on numerous projects with Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound crew. Cry Tuff Dub Encounter 3 is perhaps the most celebrated – with contributions from David Toop, Steve Beresford and The Slits – but Far I also appears on records by Creation Rebel and Singers and Players. Sherwood would continue sampling his mighty voice after Far I was murdered in his home in 1983.

This live encounter with Suns of Arqa is worth a listen too.

George Faith… the Jamaican singer’s sole album with Lee Perry at the controls is one of Scratch’s prettiest albums. Faith’s voice is perfectly complemented by Perry’s gentle riddims. To Be A Lover should feature in any list of Perry’s greatest productions. The album was preceded by this 10-minute version of the title track. It’s gorgeous.

Fat Freddy’s Drop… New Zealand-based noughties outfit. Ain’t my bag but people love their live shows. Hence, a number of live albums, I guess. This, however, is a nice slice of ambient dub.

Fathead… Often teamed up with Yellowman to add his trademark ribbits and oinks – check the Bad Boy Skanking album to hear them in tandem. But Fathead also released a few of his own singles with Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes producing and the Roots Radics’ riddims. Best heard here on ‘Champion’ but also heard to lesser effect on ‘Rat Trap‘, ‘Come me a Come‘ and ‘Stop all the Fight‘.

With thanks and praise to Steven Cumming, Grim Dewar, James Fyffe and Graham Sherman. Jah Bless.


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