Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Voice Of Thunder - Prince Far I

Prince Far I, born Michael Williams circa 1944, known as the Voice Of Thunder started his musical career as a bouncer for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label in the late 60's and early 70's. One day King Stitt, the regular DJ at Studio One, failed to turn up to voice a track and Williams convinced Dodd to give him a try on the mic. Coxsone gave him the new name of King Cry Cry and a legend was born. After recording a couple tracks using the monnicker he was bestowed he eventually changed his name to Prince Far I. His gruff, deep voice, chanting style initially appeared to limit his talents but unlike many DJ's before and after had failed to do he continued to maintain his popularity throughout his lifetime. After recording a decent amount of records in Jamaica for labels such as Joe Gibbs, Virgin Front Line and Trojan he eventually spent time in England with Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound. Unfortunately Prince Far I's life was cut short on the streets of Kingston on September 15, 1983 at the age of 39.

Now before we get to the mix I have a word of warning. Prince Far I is definitely not for everybody. My wife is a relatively seasoned reggae listener and she has never been able to stomach Prince Far I. His style is raw and tends to lack that certain "light-hearted" tone that unacoustmed listeners usually equate as the trademark of reggae music as a whole. Prince Far I definitely had a voice of thunder and the topics discussed, usually of a biblical or "sufferah's" nature, are not for those looking for some light listening while settling down to dinner. If you've never heard Prince Far I I'm not trying to dissuade you from giving him a listen, because he is an important link in the chain of Jamaican music as a whole, but the guy is hardcore. Well enough about that.

On an unrelated side-note... I do have fond memories of my friend Nick and I calling the weekly reggae program on a local radio station and requesting Prince Far I once a week. At first the female DJ who did the show would kindly pacify us by saying she'd play something but of course she wouldn't. So after a few months of unrelenting requests, sometimes 3 or 4 times a night, in different disguised voices mind you, she would just hang up on us. Nick would convincingly start off by asking a legitimate question about a song that was playing at one instant and the next he was requesting Prince Far I and she would slam the phone down. She never played the "Voice Of Thunder" and as teenage boys are often known to do we gloated in the fact that we had stumped her with an artist she had either never heard of or didn't own.

Now to the music...

1. "Foggy Road" from the 1977 Virgin album Message From The King
2. "The Lord's Prayer" from the 1975 Carib Gems album Psalms For I
3. "Show Me My Enemy" from the 1977 Joe Gibbs album Under Heavy Manners
4. "Throw Away Your Gun" from the 70's era Virgin various artists CD compilation Natty Rebel Roots
5. "Jamaican Heroes" from the 2001 CD compilation The Golden Years on the Cleopatra label
6. "Praise Him With Psalms" from the 1978 Virgin album Long Life
7. "Go Home On The Morning Train" from the 1979 Trojan album Free From Sin
8. "Johnny Get Worse" from the 2005 Blood & Fire CD compilation Silver & Gold
9. "Uncle Joe" with Gregory Isaacs from a 1979 Frontline 12"
10. "Some With Roof" from the 1981 album Livity on the Charisma label
11. "Every Time I Hear The Word" from the 2005 Trojan Dancehall Roots various artist boxset
12. "House Of Jah" from the 1997 Pressure Sounds CD Health & Strength (originally recorded 1978-1979)
13. "Mr. President" from the 2000 CD Ten Commandments on the Cactus label
14. "The Dream" from the 2005 Virgin CD Black Man Land
15. "How Love Devine" with the Wailing Souls from the Pre album Showcase In A Suitcase
16. "Shuffle And Deal" from the 1994 Blood & Fire various artists CD compilation If Deejay Was Your Trade
17. "Natty Champion" from the 1980 Trojan album Jamaican Heroes
18. "Clean Hands Pure Heart" from the 1999 Pressure Sounds CD Sounds And Pressure Vol. 4
19. "Ten Commandments" from the 1981 Trojan album Voice Of Thunder
20. "Heavy Manners" from the 1992 Heartbeat various artists CD The Mighty Two

Hear the Voice Of Thunder!


*SKIP* said...

On point as always.

Check out my new brand.

The inspiration is fairly obvious.

Waskrijt said...

nice one! although i have to admit that i somtimes find it it very hard to listen to him for a long time, except at a late night smoke, but then Prince far i is perfect.
I also think that Prince far i wouldnt sound strange in the dub poetry mix.

Reggaexx said...

Thanks for the kind words! Waskrijt, it's odd that you mention the Far I - Dub Poetry connection... I was listening to the mix last night after I got it completed and thought the same thing.

Fyah I said...

prince far i is one of my personnel favorites even though i agree with askrijt that he sometimes needs to be taken in small doses. i really enjoyed the mixtape. i do think psalms is a bomb (in a bad way) especially when compared (in theme) to i-roy's 10 commandments. thanks. i got it blasting out of my car.

Greyboy said...

Apologies for posting out of topic...I have just recently found this space, and I really enjoy how you take what I thought was my relatively deep knowledge of reggae and reveal it for the puddle it a most respectful manner.

In regards to posting out of topic:

I lost a two cassette recording of Peter Tosh interviews some on BBC, some not ...I remember him talking to a female American DJ while he's strumming and he comes up with this promo: "this is kzel right here in the southern part of hell" (or something close).
These interviews with Peter and there was also one with Chris Blackwell were interspersed with a lot of old and acoustic songs (only one or two were live, there was one or two old wailers songs). As long as I'm going top of mind, I remember they had an alternate version of "You Can't fool me again" with joe gibbs plaing the part of the judge. Does any of this ring a bell?
Am I out of line for posting a rambling question under an unrelated topic?

As long as i can continue perusing your "stacks" I will be happy.


P.s. someone stole my nicodemus v toyan on greensleeves about ten years ago, and I had forgotten what it was called (but could instantly recognize the songs) helped me find here. THANK YOU!

Reggaexx said...

Fyah I & Greyboy, thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and the music.

Greyboy, I've never heard of the Peter Tosh tapes you mentioned - they sound like they'd make for some awesome listening. You definitely weren't out of line asking and I hoped by posting your comment might jog the memory of someone who knows more about the cassettes in question.

Fyah I said...

new blog i discovered with a tape of a Far I performance in germany.
haven't listened to it yet so i cant say anything about the quality.

Dubstrong said...


Your blog is top notch.



One Sound...

[]s Dubstrong

Anonymous said...

well said, and a very very nice mix.... a tall cool drink of water for someone like me who has been listening to far i and inspired by him for a long, long time....
with much respect,

Anonymous said...

Prince Far I......Top Billin' for Eternity !!!!!!

The Mayfly said...

One of the greatest mixes I have heard. Much respect.