Old School/New Rules
U Roy
March 3, 2007

U-Roy - Old School / New Rules Track list
  1. Revisit The Palace
  2. Ain't No Stranger
  3. Old School Music
  4. Build Up The Nation
  5. Dj Phonics
  6. Give Me The Reason
  7. Papa Of Creation
  8. Sharper Than Joe Fraser
  9. Real Man
  10. Burning Shame
  11. Thicker Than Mud
  12. Sounds From The Ghetto
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
If U Roy aka Ewart Beckford (1942, Kingston, Jamaica) makes a recording one knows he picks good music and songs. Hearing for the first time the living legend U Roy in the period of (Keith) "Hudson Affair", it shaped my musical taste. The man is almost 40(!) years in business, counting from 1969 (King Tubby's), although he began earlier. Well, the unique toasting/talk-singing style of U Roy (how many can level him today?) is produced/backed-up by Neil Fraser, a.k.a. the master Mad Professor with e.g. his band The Robotics, since the '90s. Together they already made the albums "True Born Africa" (1992), "Smile A While" (1993), "Babylon Kingdom Must Fall" (1996) and additional on the Ariwa compilation "12th Anniversary" (1992), and collab. with Nolan Irie "Work So Hard" (1993).

This "Old School/New Rules" comes, like it says, in a more loversrock, roots style. Can't help it, but it reminds me of the album "Black...With Sugar" from Kofi (Ariwa 1989). Though the production sounds a little too digital for me, it has a variety in tracks that makes it attractive: a mix of re-mastered covers, rhythms and new compositions. Thanks to the Mad Prof, who -- some years ago -- I did see doing the sound-mastering of a live-gig of Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Robotics. It made me go to him to shake his hand.

The album starts off right: 1. Revisit The Palace, in a rocksteady early reggae style with a remake of the "Queen Majesty" riddim. It got me out of the seat and made me move. U Roy seems to want to reason with the head of some monarchy. Would do no harm I think, the "one-on-one talk".
2. Ain't No Stranger, a lighter loversrock, not the best on the album i.m.o.
3. Old School Music, yes! This one got me hooked. Rootical, "old school" toasting by the man, with crucial words.
4. Build Up The Nation , a nice track with a sweet ladies voice and some heavier words of the man.
5. Dj Phonics, a more easy dubwise style, in which U Roy thanks his audience.
6. Give Me The Reason, sweet loversrock, the style of Kofi i.m.o. U Roy keeps it low here and lets the song go in front.
7. Papa Of Creation, a now-a-days more bubbling rhythm, subject is the black culture.
8. Sharper Than Joe Fraser across the "Joe Frasier" riddim, check the bassline, old school for sure.
9. Real Man, uplifting tune (a familiar children song?), about the relation between man and woman, from a woman's point of view.
10. Burning Shame, a Delroy Wilson cover, with U Roy reacting on the words of the singer.
11. Thicker Than Mud, a loversrock, about love being thicker than water.
12. Sounds From The Ghetto, more roots-style, with some personal viewpoints of the man.

Here's the list of musicians involved in this album :
  • Drums: Sly Dunbar, Robotics
  • Bass: Black Steel, Obeah, Spy
  • Keys: Black Steel, Mafia, Victor Cross
  • Guitars: Black Steel, Jeffrey Beckford
  • Horns: Dean Fraser, Winston & Niles
  • Backing vocals: A Jay, Sandra Cross, Black Steel, Aisha, Bobby Harris, Rock Away, Fenton Smith
All together, the very ripe U Roy sounds less rough than in his early years, probably saving his voice, and he slightly adds some singing. But he's still the top of nice-ing up a record, no matter what style. Keep it up U Roy! and Mad Prof.

Check for some nice pics here: http://www.petrolclub.be/. On Febr 4th U Roy (and Junior Murvin) performed there, so it should appeal to the ones who visited the place.