Silver & Gold 1973-1979
Prince Far I
Blood & Fire
CD / 2LP
October 16, 2005
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
"Prince Far I come again! This time, he comes from the lion's den...I'm only but a visitor here, I'm only but a stranger here: Mount Zion is my womb, Mount Zion is my home." ("Prince Far I Come Again")
Originally the Prince was called King Cry Cry, apparently -- so history tells it -- because he had a habit of bursting into tears when he lost his temper.
Such an anecdote seems to convey Far I's duality : The sonorous voice contrasted with his hermeneutic lyrics, expressing such Gnostic wisdom themes as the impermanence of worldly reputation and the transience of the human form.
Why he was killed is still unknown -- but Roy Cousins believes Far I's fate was sealed over a financial disagreement : "Them kill him over a dance..(the gunmen) say, everybody fi lay down on the floor, and I hear him lay down neatly, him don't put up any resistance ...they shoot him, they kill him like an animal. In the living room, you see the blood with his finger mark all over the wall, when a person die in agony...when I hear it mentioned, boy, I couldn't believe it." ( Roy Cousins c/f Trojan sleeve notes )
This month is an excellent one for re-issues. Makasound have re-released the astonishing Leroy Brown set, Pressure Sounds got The Travellers album on the market -- and now Blood and Fire have dug up these rare Prince Far I sides.
The presentation is characteristically aesthetically conscious, with beautiful 45 labels reproduced alongside rare photos of Prince Far I. Steve Barrow, the man who originally decided to treat all these poetic reggae sides with the respect they deserved, provides typically erudite, informed and concise sleeve notes.
Since Blood and Fire, Pressure Sounds and relative new comers like Makasound arrived, we now have these elegiac, eidetic reggae records treated with high regard -- like classic Blue Note and Impulse albums.
And that is as it should be: Skully and Sticky are Jamaica's Tito Puente, Headley Bennet and Vin Gordon are Jamaica's Pharaoh Sanders, Santa, Sly and Robbie are Kingston's answer to Elvin Jones, Richard Davis, Idris Muhammad, Charlie Haden and so on -- and Steve Barrow's exemplary project puts them in that wider context which they so surely deserve.
This is all impossibly rare, unreleased music -- with the exception of "Let Jah Arise" previously released by Pete Holdsworth. But this album features the (long under appreciated,long under rated ) Kevin Metcalfe mastering skills, which are phenomenal, contrasting Augustus Pablo's reflective jazz piano with a terpsichorean monolithic bass.
"Yes Yes Yes" is Far I's / Flabba Holt's linear version of the classic "No No No" tune, featuring eerie insect like croaks barely perceptible in the mix and an austere and disciplined drum and bass dynamic.
We get four versions of Flabba's psychotropic "Ears To Hear" ; physical, cathartic, yet ultimately meditatively cerebral.
As Prince Far I says, this is music to cure the lame, deaf and dumb -- music to raise Lazarus.
"In the morning they are fresh and blooming, in the evening they wither up and gone..." (Prince Far I's "Coming in from the Rock").