Jak Uzi reports on U-Roy + Junior Murvin + Dubtronic Kru – The Junction, Cambridge, 8 Mar 2007

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
Junior Murvin comes with a legacy vocal sound. High up there with other greats like Horace Andy, he has a soulful falsetto singing voice - the Curtis Mayfield of Reggae. So it's strange to hear him speak in a ruff voice between songs. ‘Back to Studio One..!' he announces and Dubtronic Kru dig into Coxsone's Real Rock riddim. Pounding brimstone bass line with scattered, delay-drenched rimshots, this timeless 'one drop' rhythm has had, literally, hundreds of vocal tunes cut to it over the last forty years. Junior Murvin now takes us on a musical journey back-a-yard through late-sixties to mid-seventies Jamaican reggae. As he hits Police and Thieves, the classic tune he cut for Lee Perry at the height of his powers at the Black Ark studio, the crowd go ballistic - they've been waiting for this one all night long. The band have to rewind and come again. They drag the intro back to the very edge and drop it from the top... twice by request. Yes yes, man's voice is still up there and crystal clear. Reeeeeespect.

From the moment U-Roy (pictured) steps into the arena there are gunshots going off. I tell you, there would have been enough holes in the ceiling if we'd actually had any guns in our saluting hands. U-Roy is the man. The Don. 'Daddy U-Roy' they call him back home on the sound systems. His sound, Stur-Gav Hi Fi, is a big draw still. In 1969 he held the number one, two and three slots in the Jamaican Radio charts and his voice ruled the nation. "Wake the town, tell the people... 'bout dis musical disc comin your way... way...! way...!!" U-Roy's jive-talking influence extends way... way... way beyond Jamaica and reggae. There can't be many riding the mic today who haven't been directly influenced by the man himself. And tonight he's up for it. Impeccable baggy dancehall suit, broad brim hat and pointy 'pickers. Pushing and stepping to the rhythms, this man is reaching 65, yet looks to be in his fifties and sounds in his thirties. He's invincible still, man. Gals at the front are whinin' and hanging off the rails as he takes us on a version-excursion through the legacy of Rock Steady anthems he cut for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label and dubbed in fine style at King Tubby's. By the time Dubtonic Kru fire up Chalice in the Palace the ceiling is down and the roof has left the building. We witnessed U-Roy achieve transubstantiation. We got the real deal.

Writer : Jak Uzi