Prince Far I – Big Fight

• “Big Fight” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to Root Hog Or Die.

8.7 “Excellent Reggae from Jamaica”

From his album “Under Heavy Manners” (Joe Gibbs Music JGML-0023) released in 1977.

My album review:

For the second time since gaining independence in ’62, Jamaica declared itself to be in a state of emergency in June ’76, the result of increasingly violent outbreaks across the country in the run up to the election. The ruling PNP charged that the JLP and CIA were plotting to destabilise the country. In particularly volatile areas, curfews were put in place, forbidding citizens to be out between 8pm and 6am. In next to no time, nearly 200 agitators were in detention. Labour vs Conservative (UK) or Republican v Democrat (US) are puppy contests compared to the vicious Rottweiler savagery of PNP vs JLP in Jamaica, very often a matter of life or death. Prince Far I was recording with Joe Gibbs at this time and this collaboration resulted in a 45 issued in response to the troubles, “Heavy Manners”, a cut riding on another of Joe’s productions, Naggo Morris’ “Su Su Pan Rasta” from ’75. It’s very cleverly done, retaining Naggo’s wailing and adding police siren imitations as Far I lets rip with a heavy bout of sarcasm and a call to Joe (Gibbs) and Rastafarians in general to distance themselves from the whole sorry affair: “discipline is what the world needs today baby, heavy, heavy discipline… war in the east and, war in the west, war in the north, war in the south, crazy Joe get dem out, what a terrible bout.” So popular was this phrasing in the nation’s conscious that “under heavy manners” became an everyday phrase to describe the ten-month-long State of Emergency. Unbelievably, the governing party utilised it in one of their key campaign slogans: “Vote against violence. Vote ‘Heavy Manners’. Vote PNP.” A full album followed under this title in ’77, with the aforementioned hit single serving as the closing cut. The album starts toughly with “Rain A Fall” as Far I re-treads an earlier Marleyism from “Them Belly A Full”: “an hungry man is an angry man”. Next up is “Big Fight”, a humorous winner about a boxing bout between a Dread and a Babylonian. Of course, Dread has love in his heart and Babylon is ignorant. The action-thriller fantasy concludes, not unsurprisingly, with the revelation that if you “Look in a the Gleaner and you will see, Natty Dread a thee univershall champion of the universe right now”. The bloke’s a nutter, but in a loveable way. There’s a big shock on track 3 as Far I gets all romantic with a Millie-esque squeaker. The niceness is disconcerting, but I like it. There aren’t too many killer cuts on-board, although “Boz Rock”, “Show Me Mine Enemy” (complete with some seriously wonky effects) and “Shadow” are all rock-solid efforts.

You can read more of my favoured album reviews from ’77 here.


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