The roots reggae era in the 70’s showed a great number of talents. A bunch of these were picked up by major labels such as Virgin. But the majority of these fine performers went unnoticed outside of Jamaica.
Some of these talents have been rediscovered in the 90’s and in the last couple of years thanks to fine reissue labels such as Blood and Fire, Pressure Sounds and Makasound. There has for example been excellent compilations from the likes of Rod Taylor, Sylford Walker and Prince Alla.
Another one is Little Roy. He started his career in the mid 60’s at Studio One. A few years later he recorded the smashing organ fuelled Bongo Nyah for Lloyd “Matador” Daley.
In the 70’s Little Roy started to produce himself and recorded several excellent tunes that were hard to find up until Pressure Sounds released the superb compilations Tafari Earth Uprising and Packin’ House. These two albums showcase an extraordinary talent whose rough, emotive delivery and insightful lyrics draws Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Joe Higgs to mind.
Little Roy hasn’t been the most productive reggae artist. He was largely anonymous in the 80’s and recorded sparsely in the 90’s. In 2005 he dropped his latest album Children of the Most High, an album that contained re-recorded version of his previous output. He has also worked with producer and engineer Mike Pelanconi for the Prince Fatty project.
His new album Heat, that hit the streets Friday March 18, is in the same vein and contains 12 tunes, where of eleven are reworkings.
Heat is an overall nice effort, especially the title track and Jah Can Count On I, a tune that Freddie McGregor versioned on his self titled album. It’s a mystery though why Tribal War isn’t re-recorded. This roots classic has been versioned several times, recently by Nas & Damian Marley for the wicked Tribes at War.
Hopefully Heat can draw attention to Little Roy’s original material so that he can get the credit he deserves.