Welcome welcome welcome to the Hall of Legends. It has been a while since the doors have opened, but the committee has finally reconvened to induct the Hall's fifth member: Spanish Town's own Michael James Williams, a.k.a. King Cry Cry, best known as Prince Far-I. He joins The Fall, Stereolab, Billy Childish, and Coil in the sparsely populated Hall.
Prince Far-I's life was cut short under senseless circumstances on September 15, 1983. Since it has been a nice round number of years since then, I considered holding off until the "anniversary," but went ahead and did it now for a few reasons. One, no one knows what the future holds for any of us, least of all for Bombast, so I figured we might as well
fire off this salvo light this candle while we are still on the air. Second, since I don't really share Prince Far-I's belief in "eternal life" and think instead that we only get one a finite chance at this thing, I don't think deaths are anything to commemorate [although there are exceptions]. It is much better to celebrate lives, which can be done whenever. Third, some free airtime opened up, which allowed me to take a scenic detour from the relentless, willful progress of the show, whose mission is indecipherable sometimes even to me.
I don't remember when I encountered my first Prince Far-I recording or even what it was. I am pretty sure that it was either Free From Sin or one of the Singers & Players records, and it had to be sometime in the mid-1980s. I guess it doesn't matter, aside from illustrating that this music and I go way back. I have been trying to figure out why exactly that is--most likely because there are few cases in which a voice is so well-suited to the material, and even fewer cases where apparent hard-liners like Prince Far-I seem like they would be such cool people with whom to chill.
Metaphysics are reggae's weak point and the elephant in the room when it comes to appreciating this music. I have very little to say on the topic, other than that I bracket them off when I listen, just as when I visit Notre Dame cathedral I bracket off all the bad things that have probably happened inside. I very much consider these tunes cathedrals of dub [well, technically, they are "versions," to continue our lesson in nomenclature from the program, but whatever]; while Linton Kwesi Johnson termed himself a "dub poet," surely Prince Far-I got there first, and as he reminds us, "first is first and second is nothing." [That's a bit unfair to LKJ, who, far from "nothing," is a possible Hall candidate although pretty well-appreciated.] Getting back to the business of spirituality, I do appreciate that Prince Far-I truly seems a "man of the book" and a willful obsessive after my own heart. Far from dropping the occasional "chant to Jah" just to maintain his Rasta cred before launching into more important topics like motorcycles, loose women, and collie, as some of his deejay colleagues have a tendency to do, he really seems to mean what he says.
And yet when he does take detours, what charm and hilarity he exhibits. "Quante Jubila," "Autobiography," "Water the Garden," and "Bedward the Flying Preacher" are four of my favorite tunes, by anybody, period--one of my personal criteria for measuring a song's greatness is how ridiculous and/or terrible an imagined cover version would sound. Don't even bother--these, and many others from today's program, should be left to stand alone.
Technical note--some crazy stuff began to happen in the studio during the "Physical Evidence" segment--our airplay computer, on which we depend for automated programming that keeps us in compliance when we can't have a live human being at the controls, failed during an otherwise routine reboot. As I scrambled to fix the problem, frantically sending out texts and emails, the show got a bit...sloppy. I won't spoil it with words; just listen and enjoy. "What you hear is what you hear."
BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 13, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. :
- Singers & Players: "Autobiography" [On-U Sound]
- Prince Far-I: "Reggae Music" [Trojan]
- Suns of Arqa: "Brujo Magic" / "83 Struggle" [Arka Sound]
- Prince Far-I: "Wish I Have a Wing" [Frontline / Virgin]
- Prince Far-I: "Coming In from the Rock" [Trojan]
- Prince Far-I: "Free from Sin" [Trojan]
- Prince Far-I: "Foggy Road" [Frontline / Virgin]
- Prince Far-I: "Shuffle and Deal" [Blood and Fire]
- Prince Far-I: "When the King Comes on Earth" [Pressure Sounds]
- Prince Far-I: "Commandment of Drugs" [Frontline / Virgin]
- Singers & Players: "Water the Garden" [On-U Sound]
- Prince Far-I: "The Lord's Prayer" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
- Prince Far-I: "Psalm 87" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
- Prince Far-I: "Psalm 24" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
- Prince Far-I: "Psalm 48" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
- Prince Far-I: "Psalm 49" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
- Prince Far-I: "Farmyard" [Virgin]
- Singers & Players: "Quante Jubila" [On-U Sound]
- Prince Far-I: "African Queen" [Kingdom]
- Prince Far-I: "The Big Fight" [Joe Gibbs]
- Singers & Players: "Bedward the Flying Preacher" [On-U Sound]
- Prince Far-I: "Give I Strength" [Trojan]
- Suns of Arqa: "What You Gonna Do on the Judgment Day" [Arka Sound]
next time: the usual Bombast thing, whatever that is. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis.