U-Roy - Version Galore

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

1970, Treasure Isle

  1. Your Ace From Space

  2. On The Beach

  3. Version Galore

  4. True Confession

  5. Tide Is High

  6. Things You Love

  7. Same Song

  8. Happy Go Lucky Girl

  9. Rock Away

  10. Wear You To The Ball

  11. Don't Stay Away

  12. Hot Pop

Version Galore is the first deejay LP. King Stitt made his LP debut in '69 with a few tunes at the end of Fire Corner by The Dynamites, but Version Galore is the first LP to be credited to a deejay and be full from start to finish of deejay tunes. So it's a historic record in this way, and depending on who you ask this could also be the birthplace of hip-hop. Which is a nice thing to think about but I feel that people who get too enthusiastic about that argument are perhaps downplaying the excellence and importance of REGGAE...

Anyway in my opinion this record is required listening for anyone interested in deejays or old reggae and rocksteady in general. Deejaying/toasting/rapping, however you want to call it, was perhaps not engaging enough to carry a whole LP in the 60's but U-Roy was on the mic for enough time within a tune to really feel like the main act. Another thing he brought to the table was his WOW style, you will hear it many times on this record - also some really exciting timing in the longer phrases, accented and syncopated, musically actually a lot more intricate that later deejaying.

Well the toasting style is vibrant, energetic and bursting at the seams with joy, and no less can be said of the riddims – a series of rocksteady classics from the Treasure Isle label with one ska tune in the mix too. Most come from the Paragons, and you can hear U-Roy play off of Phyllis Dillon’s original vocal track on Don’t Stay Away in a lover’s quarrel kind of style. By the time this album came out, reggae was the new sound on the block, but Version Galore was among the late rocksteady records that kept the style in the ears of the public. In the words of Ray Hudford & Joakim Kalcidis, this album is “a faultless classic”.

My picks: On The Beach, Same Song, Happy Go Lucky Girl

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