The Best of U-Roy: Rightful Ruler


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The Best of U-Roy: Rightful Ruler Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

How can you have a best-of album without "Wake the Town" and "Wear You to the Ball," two of U-Roy's biggest hits? And how can you call it the Rightful Ruler when you've shorn the DJ of his entire dread period? That said, there are some interesting inclusions to be found within this collection. "Dynamic Fashion Way" was U-Roy's recording debut, a version of Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way," whose rhythm was later versioned to bigger success by Dennis Alcapone. The title track is another very early recording, this one in partnership with Peter Tosh and overseen by Lee Perry. Both cuts precede U-Roy's rise to fame with the break-out hit "Wake the Town," which began a year long collaboration with producer Duke Reid for a string of classic hits. Afterwards, the DJ began freelancing around the Kingston studios, before hooking up with producer Prince Tony Robinson in the mid-1970s for four seminal roots laced albums. The majority of U-Roy compilations focus either exclusively on the Reid era or on the Robinson period, but Rightful Ruler does neither. While concentrating on the earlier epoch, from the late 1960s through the early 1970s, the album bundles up songs recorded for a number of different producers. This includes Reid, of course, but also the aforementioned Hudson and Perry, as well as Coxsone Dodd, Alvin Ranglin, a teenaged Gussie Clarke, and Bunny Lee. The last's amazing version of "Wet Dream" is worth the price of admission alone. What the album lacks in sensible sequencing -- the chronology is a jumble and styles and producers are totally mixed and mis- matched, it more than makes up for in its very diversity. Maybe not the very best U-Roy has done, but certainly a welcome respite from the one-producer compilations.

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