(5 / 5)
This superb two-disc set brings together the entirety of the influential DJ’s vocal recordings for Trojan, widely regarded to be his finest work.
Four seminal albums: “Free From Sin”, “Jamaican Heroes”, “Voice Of Thunder” and “Musical History.
Three of the original albums make their CD debut with this set from one of the most iconic and influential Jamaican, ska and dub artists of all time.
By the time Michael Williams aka Prince Far I became established as a recording artist in the mid-70s, he was already a veteran of the Jamaican music scene – having begun as a DJ and producer early the previous decade.
His deep, slow and deliberate delivery, allied to his consistently hard-hitting commentaries proved popular with reggae fans around the world, most notably in the UK, where his work strongly resonated with the punk generation.
Known for his “gruff” voice and criticism of the Jamaican government his acclaimed track “Under Heavy Manners” (not featured here) advocated peace and cessation of violent crime.
In 1979, Far I signed with Trojan Records, cutting a quartet of vocal albums for the company over a four-year period. But in September 1983, soon after the release of his “Musical History” LP (he last of the four albums we get in this set), he was murdered during a home-invasion robbery in Jamaica. He was 39.
He was somewhat of a mentor to Adrian Sherwood and collaborated with Sherwood’s On-U Sound, and spent some time based in the UK.
His final live performance was at The band On The Wall venue in Manchester in December 1982, less than a year before his death. The Clash name check Prince in their song “Clash City Rockers”.
When music writers and magazines compile their lists of “best album ever” or “best artists ever” in various genres, in the reggae genre, Mr Marley(who Prince Far I pays tribute to on track two of the second disc here, from his “Voice Of Thunder album), Mr Cliff, Mr Holt and Mr Hibbert aka Toots, usually feature at the top.
But often Mr Far I doesn’t feature at all – despite 18 albums to his credit starting in 1975, plus a slew of compilations.
That’s not right…..He deserves recognition and respect for his work and his talents, almost four decades after his tragic death. So this set of his Trojan tracks helps to right that wrong, and deserves widespread coverage and adding to any reggae music collection.
And at an average retail price of less than £12 for 2-CDs offering up four albums – a total of 38 tracks – what’s not to like?
By Simon Redley
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’