April 17, 2002
Pressure Sounds
Reggae, DJ/Toasting, Dub

Album Review

Originally released on LP in 1975, Psalms for I was Prince Far I's first album and, in tandem with the following year's Under Heavy Manners, acted as the first half of a devastating one-two punch that would forever alter the course of reggae DJ practice. For one thing, Prince Far I did not like his art to be referred to as "toasting" or "chatting" -- to him, the word "chanting" was more apt, and few listeners would disagree. Instead of riding the rhythm while demonstrating his own cleverness with dextrous wordplay and his desirability with chest-pounding boastfulness, Prince Far I almost invariably chose subjects of the greatest spiritual and political import, and his delivery was rarely characterized by either glibness or rhythmic invention. Instead, he used his deep and gravelly voice to praise God and to call Babylon to repentance, calling out his messages in a plain-spoken style. On Psalms for I these tendencies are presented in their most distilled form: in his trademark declamatory style, he delivers lyrics drawn almost entirely from the Psalms of the Old Testament, supported by heavy roots rhythms courtesy of the Aggrovators. Although Prince Far I would later have even heavier rhythms to work with in his collaborations with the Roots Radics, these tracks are tremendously powerful. Given the nature of this material it is difficult to identify particular highlights, but Far I's rendition of "Psalm 24" (over a rhythm produced by the great Alton Ellis) is especially fine. [Psalms for I was available on LP and CD from the Carib Gems label for some time before Pressure Sounds picked it up and reissued it in 2002 with improved artwork, extensive liner notes, and an additional dub track.]
Rick Anderson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Psalm 49
  2. Psalm 48
  3. Psalm 24
  4. Psalm 87
  5. The Lord's Prayer
  6. Psalm 95
  7. Psalm 53
  8. Psalm 23
  9. Psalm 2
  10. Psalm 1
  11. [Untitled Hidden Track]