Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Reggae Wednesday

Another interesting cover version for you this week. The Voice Of Thunder, more commonly known as Prince Far I, was one very interesting character. Having deejayed around Jamaica for a number of years, Prince Far I became one of the country's most respected recording artists during the 1970s. While his vocal style has been dubbed 'toasting', he preferred to label himself a 'chanter' rather than a 'toaster'.

His first album, 'Psalms For I', in 1975 was a collection of psalms and prayers for illiterate people who could not read the Bible themselves. Far I's faith cropped up in numerous tracks throughout his career, but he wasn't shy of politics either. The title of his second album 'Under Heavy Manners' referred to the state of emergency rule imposed by the Jamaican government in 1976, many tenets of which he disagreed with.

Today's song is taken from that album. Deck Of Cards was written and originally performed in 1948 by country singer T. Texas Tyler, although the story told in the song dates back to 1762 as penned by British farmer's wife Mary Bacon. Since Tyler's version, there have been many takes on it. The one I remember is by Max Bygraves. No, really. He had a huge hit with it in the UK in 1973 and my mum and dad had one of his albums that contained it. It was played a lot when I was a wee nipper. The song's style is ripe for parody - and in fact there have been many of those. From the Soft Boys to Eric Idle; Penn and Teller to Bill Oddie; Mike Harding to Max Boyce (whose version was about the Welsh national rugby team).

Prince Far I turned the tale of a Christian soldier into a dub masterpiece. Produced by the Mighty Two and backed by Joe Gibbs' house band The Professionals, it is one heavy beast. Certainly, Max never did it this way...

Prince Far I was shot dead in 1983. Some accounts say it was a robbery, while others claim it was because of the political symbols he painted on the outside of his house. Either way it was a tragic end.

I need to post more dub in this series, though there aren't many chapters left. Hmmm, might squeeze one more in somewhere...

1 comment:

  1. Great post today with a lot of interesting info. I know a bit of Prince Far I but not this tune. And I never heard of T. Texas Tyler, although that's a dope name, or Max Bygraves, either. (We all know Mary Bacon, of course.) Cheers, Robster!