Prince Far I
The Trojan Albums Collection
Doctor Bird / Cherry Red Records CD
Cherry Red Records release Prince Far I’s four albums for Trojan Records on a double CD pack.
A Beginners Guide to Prince Far I
Being a big fan of Prince Far I and with the forthcoming CD release on Cherry Red Records of the four albums he recorded for Trojan Records heading our way, I thought a short beginner’s guide to reggae’s ‘voice of thunder’ was needed. This is by no means a full biography, just a few pointers to help those new to his music.
Who was Prince Far I?
Born Michael James Williams, Prince Far I was a Jamaican reggae deejay and vocalist. Reggae deejays or ‘toasters’ are not like your conventional ‘guys and girls who stand behind records decks spinning tunes’, they are more freestyle vocalists talking or singing over a reggae backing track. Prince Far I was best known for his gravelly voiced delivery and his style was not a conventional one. He came across as more of an Old Testament prophet, calling out inequality and suffering in his conscious lyrics. Admittedly his style is not for everyone, he is probably as far removed from the silky voiced Bob Marley as you can get. But he has a very loyal following amongst reggae fans who appreciate his musical integrity and his righteous words.
Didn’t he do something with Adrian Sherwood and On U Sound?
During the mid-70s, Adrian Sherwood formed an independent record label called Carib Gems, with the aim of issuing new Jamaican music. Carib Gems issued Prince Far I’s landmark album Psalms of Dub, a record that certainly contributed to Prince Far I’s reputation for a blood and thunder delivery style. This started a strong working relationship and friendship with the Prince who added vocals to many landmark On U Sound tracks. Have a listen to Bedward, a nice mix of the ‘On U trademark sound’ with Prince Far I’s preaching vocal style.
How do his Trojan releases compare to his other work?
To be honest it’s difficult to fault any of Prince Far I’s output, his conviction comes across on all of his albums, and he is Mr Consistent. The four albums included here were recorded between 1979 and 1983, some feel that this was his golden period. Together with the copious studio work, he was putting in the hours touring and was a favourite of the great John Peel, recording several radio sessions for him. Check out the title track from the Free From Sin collection, to hear him in full biblical voice.
What happened to Prince Far I?
Like many of his brethren he was taken from us far too soon, a victim of a cold blooded murder back in 1983. The motive was never discovered and the killers never found. He was well liked and by all accounts behind his gruff voice was a gentle and kind man which makes his murder all the more shocking. We were certainly robbed of a special talent, but at least we have a large readily available catalogue of his recordings. He certainly added a different voice to reggae and will be greatly missed.
The double CD set can be pre-ordered from the Cherry Red Records website for a rather bargain price of £11.99, it is due for a May 8th release.
Please leave a comment, are you a fan of Prince Far I, if not will you investigate his work further? Please share this post on social media, it would be much appreciated.