Little Roy

Children of the Most High

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Old-school reggae fans will recognize Little Roy as the singer of "Bongo Nyah," one of the catchiest singles to come out of Lloyd Daley's Matador studio and label in the late '60s. The rocksteady sound was settling into the more relaxed reggae beat that would dominate the Jamaican airwaves for a decade, and Little Roy's song was one of the first really big hits of the new musical era. In case you've forgotten him, he leads off his latest album with a new version of "Bongo Nyah" -- one that doesn't exactly eclipse the original, but certainly shows that he's still well in control of his fine voice and able to lead a strong band. (And this is a strong one, featuring keyboardist Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie, guitarist Black Steel, and bassist Kenton "Fish" Brown, among others). The album's title track is the most original and refreshing, an admonitory call to righteousness that downplays sufferer's lamentations in favor of a stern rebuke to Rastas who fail to offer a good example of the believers. "Christopher Columbus" finds him returning to more familiar lyrical territory over a powerful one-drop beat, and "Heat" invokes the poverty and suffering of inner-city Jamaica with a dark and regretful melody. The cover version of "My Sweet Lord" falls rather flat (thanks in part to some overly wanky guitar solos) and Little Roy's voice seems to fail him somewhat on "Our Day Will Come," but overall this is a very impressive return to form for one of reggae music's legendary figures.

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