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Reggae - Released January 1, 1995 | Virgin Records

Another mix-and-match U-Roy compilation that bundles together recordings from the '70s in willy-nilly fashion, Original DJ combs through the DJ's work with only two producers (as is too often the case), and to no one's surprise, it's Duke Reid and Prince Tony Robinson whose back catalogs are rifled. The Reid material has been bundled together many times over the years, starting back in 1971 when Trojan pulled together an album's worth of the toaster's Treasure Isle singles for Version Galore. That set was reissued by Virgin in 1978, with further Reid productions compiled on the following year's With Words of Wisdom. In 1990, Virgin, having annoyingly deleted both these albums, pulled tracks from them for the CD compilation Version of Wisdom, which is where you can find all the Reid productions and then some. Thus, the Originator's early recordings are dispensed with. In the mid-'70s, U-Roy began working with Robinson, a particularly successful partnership highlighted by more hit singles and a quartet of crucial albums. Virgin released 1975's Dread in a Babylon, with their Frontline imprint putting out Natty Rebel, Rasta Ambassador, and Jah Son of Africa over the following three years, all of which have been subsequently reissued on CD. Oddly, though, this compilation pulls tracks off only the first three sets, thus bringing this compilation to a premature conclusion in 1977. Not that one particularly notices, as the tracks bounce around the years and records. Regardless, there's still a mouthwatering selection of numbers within, and while Original DJ is by no means a career-spanning set of the DJ's '70s work (equally seminal singles were cut for many other producers as well), it's still a particularly worthy collection. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released January 1, 1990 | Virgin Records

Even without the music, this album would still leap off the racks; its photo of U Roy exhaling a mushroom cloud of marijuana smoke from his ever-available pipe ranks among the all-time greatest covers, regardless of genre. However, U Roy doesn't have any trouble coming across as a distinctive presence; his scattershot repertoire of barks, chants, and screams is as critical or more important as the deft, unobtrusive backing woven behind him. U Roy imposes his own willful style, regardless of setting. Sometimes he pulls off a positively poppy veneer on tracks like "Runaway Girl" or "Silver Bird"; other times, he extemporizes slightly ahead of the beat on "Natty Don't Fear" or "The Great Psalms." His lyrics run the gamut of Rastafarian concerns, from facing adversity ("Dreadlocks Dread") to female troubles ("I Can't Love Another") and royalist run-ins ("Chalice in the Palace"). The uncredited musicians stay out of the way (although they get their own album-closing instrumental, "Trench Town Rock"). This album ranks among the '70s dub masterpieces, even if the odd lyrical clinker keeps it from perfection; "Runaway Girl"'s glistening skank can't paper over its sexism (which suggests the girl in question "may be nice/but you're not that smart"). Even so, sometimes an artist only needs charisma to get across, and U Roy handily wins on that score. © Ralph Heibutzki /TiVo
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Reggae - Released January 1, 1971 | Trojan Records

"Versions galore, you can hear them by the score, I could give you some more for sure," U-Roy shouts out on the title track of Version Galore, and indeed he could and did, recording scores and scores of versions of classic Jamaican hits. This album gathers up a dozen of some of his earliest, all cut for Duke Reid at Treasure Isle studio between 1969 and 1970. Included is one of his chartbusters, a version of the Paragons' "Wear You to the Ball." Paragon vocalist John Holt was responsible for bringing the DJ to Treasure Isle, and U-Roy repaid the singer by versioning a clutch of classic Paragons' songs, five of which appear here. The DJ was obviously a fan, and chatted along to the songs as one would to an old friend, most noticeably on "The Tide Is High" (Blondie would later have a hit with a cover of the original) and "Happy Go Lucky Girl." There again, on "Flashing My Whip," a version of the group's "Only a Smile," U-Roy demands that the trio put a smile on their face, a bit difficult considering the song's intrinsic heartbreak. The DJ's ease with these golden oldies allowed him to adeptly sing along, call out for the vocalists to sing on cue, wander off in other lyrical directions, and still find the perfect spot for his catch phrases. But this talent didn't end with the Paragons and rocksteady, "True Confessions," for example, was a ska-fired, doo wop-inspired hit for the Silvertones, and U-Roy motors away on this with equal ease. Interestingly enough, though, it's evident that without the vocals as a lyrical launch pad, the DJ is rather at a loss. Thus the two instrumentals here are actually the weakest tracks. But it was early days, and U-Roy's verbal gymnastics would fill in the gaps soon enough. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released January 1, 2000 | Mideya

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World - Released May 26, 2006 | Charly Records

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Reggae - Released December 17, 2013 | Gorgon Records

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Reggae - Released January 1, 2001 | Mideya

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Reggae - Released January 24, 2020 | Trojan Jamaica

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Reggae - Released February 21, 2018 | Shaklow

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Reggae - Released January 6, 2009 | Attack

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Reggae - Released January 1, 1980 | Tabou 1

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Reggae - Released April 27, 2018 | Ariwa Sounds Ltd.

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Reggae - Released January 24, 2007 | Attack

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World - Released April 14, 2006 | Charly Records

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Reggae - Released August 23, 2005 | Ariwa Sounds

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Reggae - Released June 15, 2016 | Passage Productions

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Reggae - Released January 1, 2005 | Mideya

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Reggae - Released February 22, 2005 | Ariwa Sounds Ltd.

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Reggae - Released May 10, 2012 | Original Jamaican Music

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Reggae - Released March 1, 2003 | Mediacom