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U-Roy was a true reggae pioneer, dubbed The Originator for good reason. Bursting onto the Jamaican scene in the earliest 1970s, he pioneered the vocal approach called “toasting,” which in addition to branching out Jamaican music into a new era, was also heavily influential on an American genre in its infancy: rapping.
On Dread In A Babylon, his third full-length, he stretches out over traditional roots grooves provided by the Soul Syndicate and Skin, Flesh & Bones bands, riffing on topics including love (“Runaway Girl,” a 1975 single released in the UK on Virgin Records); the Bible (“The Great Psalms”); walking the straight and narrow (“Listen To The Teacher”); and even his take on governmental policy goals (“Chalice In The Palace”). The album finishes with an instrumental version of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Trench Town Rock,” for good measure.
U-Roy’s style and charisma are always on display, and – as with all of his classic records – the groove rules all. Presented on black vinyl with a poster of the glorious, ganja-drenched cover art, it’s the perfect chance to revisit one of the more underrated voices in Jamaican musical history.
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