U-Roy had already made the rounds of producers and cut a handful of singles which had created quite a stir in the underground scene. But it was only after the DJ hooked up with producer Duke Reid that the rest of Jamaica awoke to the DJ's charms. U-Roy's first recording for Reid was appropriately enough titled "Wake the Town," a version of Alton Ellis' classic "Girl I've Got a Date." Over the rocksteady rhythm, the DJ jauntily rapped along with an ease never before heard. The single was a smash, "Rule the Nation," taking the rhythm from the Techniques' "Love Is Not a Gamble" followed suit, as did "Wear You to the Ball Tonight," a version of the Paragons' hit of the same title. Amazingly, all three songs took the top three chart placements at the same time in 1970. U-Roy had arrived. By the end of the year, the DJ had recorded a total of 32 songs for Reid, 30 of which appear on Your Ace From Space. Part of the appeal, of course, was that the producer dug up a king's ransom of classic rocksteady tracks from his Treasure Isle vault for U-Roy's use. The Paragons proved a favorite, not surprisingly considering John Holt's role in bringing the DJ to Reid; the Melodians were also heavily versioned, while cuts by the Jamaicans, the Techniques, the Silvertones and Hopeton Lewis provided an all-star backdrop for U-Roy's pleasure. And the DJ's pleasure at the choice of material is obvious, another reason for his success. In these early days, the DJ's job was more that of an MC, there to exhort the crowd, live or on record. U-Roy took this one step further, responding directly to the original lyrics, or using them as a launch pad for his own comments. His singsong vocals, and unerring ability to ride the rhythms, were a wonder to behold. Add Tommy McCook's "Supersonics" to the mix, and Ace is as classic as the track's original versions.
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