U-Roy - Version Galore
(Get On Down)
Ewart Beckford, aka U-Roy, is known as the pioneer of toasting in Jamaica and perhaps the greatest DJ of the era. For the uninitiated, toasting refers to the original DJ’s of Jamaica singing or hyping in a rhythmic fashion over instrumental and in many times, stripped down vocal versions of well-known songs of the day. This was essentially an early version of rapping and this style would be emulated when hip-hop was being formulated in the late 70’s.
U-Roy developed his unique style in the early 60’s by watching Count Matchuki, King Stitt and Sir Lord Comic toast who themselves, were imitating what the heard American DJs doing in the late 50’s. U-Roy got a shot after John Holt saw him toasting and recommended him to Treasure Isle producer Duke Reid. In 1970, Reid had a hit with U-Roy’s version of Alton Ellis’ “Girl I’ve Got a Date,” (issued as “Wake the Town”), and his take on “Wear You To The Ball” by The Paragons. In 1971, U-Roy released what has to be the first LP of versions with Version Galore. From front to back U-Roy takes control and lets loose atop a set of excellent rocksteady cuts from the early 70’s such as “The Tide Is High”, “Don’t Stay Away” and “The Same Song.” This is basically ground zero for the Jamaican DJ style and a much needed record to own if you love reggae but haven’t gotten too deep into version culture.
U-Roy himself would go on to much more including what became his biggest hit, 1975’s ESSENTIAL Dread In A Babylon which would win him International acclaim. But rewind and bring it on back to 1971’s Version Galore. Yeah yeah yeah! (Dom)
Check out a track here.