U-Roy a.k.a. The Originator certainly needs no introduction to REGGAEVILLE readers. His new studio album, Pray Fi Di People, however, needs one: it is his first studio album in ten years. For that occasion, U-Roy linked up with long-time friends like Marcia Griffiths as well as with more recent aquaintances, including Tiken Jah Fakoly and Balik (Danakil). Twelve of the album‘s thirteen tracks are combinations indeed. Pray Fi Di People really should have been named U-Roy & Friends. So, how does The Originator sound 51 years after he launched his career at Doctor Dickie‘s Dynamite Sound System?
Sounding much younger than he is, Daddy U-Roy toasts over a fine selection of classic riddims and newer ones with an unostentatious, classic feel with perfect ease. His guest vocalists get enough space to shine, still U-Roy always seems to be firmly in control. The Originator comments mostly on love issues, but we find a fair share of spiritual tunes and a bit of social commentary.
Of the latter is the opening track. Love Questions is a sweet combination with Marcia Griffiths, a haunting roll call to replace hatred and war with nothing but love. Fittingly, U-Roy proceeds with a prayer for the people of the world. The title track is the only one where he has to do without support. Fortunately that is, as Pray Fi Di People is certainly not the strongest tune here.
Chezidek helps him to demand repatriation to the Motherland in Border Line, and comes back at the end of the album to join U-Roy for War Question. Easily the most remarkable tune on Pray Fi Di People is The Hard Way, with Balik singing in French and Tiken Jah Fakoly in Dyoula. Three totally different, groundbreaking voices from three continents - U-Roy certainly did not have the faintest idea how reggae would conquer the world back in the days.
Another unique and easily distinguishable voice supports The Originator on Call On Jah: that of Harrison “Professor” Stafford. A deeply spiritual, unifying and confident track. The next five tunes deal with the Ladies: Cheating Girls features a strong Ernest Wilson (The Clarendonians) and ranks among the top tracks of the album. A much more positive outlook comes from Winsome Benjamin (Ebony Eyes). In 1970, John Holt talked Duke Reid into recording what would later become some of U-Roy‘s greatest classics. One of those tunes was Wake The Town, based on Alton Ellis‘ Girl I‘ve Got A Date. The Originator provides us with another remake now, together with Sophia Squire: Got A Date.
Tarrus Riley is on board for Pumps & Pride, showing once more why he is one of the most promising vocalists reggae has to offer these days. Power Of Love is a remake of Bitty McLean‘s Plead My Cause from his outstanding album Movin‘ On with Sly & Robbie. Of course it features Bitty himself. Horace Andy helps U-Roy to give thanks and praises in Reason With Jah. Richard Robinson joins in on Ungrateful Girl, a catchy song on an uncongested ska beat.
Pray Fi Di People is a bright album with few weak spots. A great opportunity to rediscover Daddy U-Roy. Go and check it out!
01. Love Questions - feat. Marcia Griffiths 02. Pray Fi Di People 03. Border Line feat. Chezidek 04. 3 The Hard Way feat. Tiken Jah Fakoly & Balik 05. Call On Jah feat. Harrison "Professor" Stafford 06. Cheating Girl feat. Ernest Wilson 07. Ebony Eyes feat. Winsome Benjamin 08. Got A Date feat. Sophia Squire 09. Pumps And Pride feat. Tarrus Riley 10. Power of Love feat. Bitty McLean 11. Reason wirth Jah feat. Horace Andy 12. Ungrateful Girl feat. Richard Robinson 13. War Question feat. Chezidek