Includes liner notes by Trevor Herman.
The flourishes of sound manipulation throughout DREAD IN A BABYLON make it obvious why U Roy is considered the man who established the role of the DJ in reggae and Western pop music. But what gives the album its staying power is the passion that he brings to his singing and toasting.
U Roy's ad-libbed additions--whether in peals of song or spurts of rapid-fire toasting--to "Runaway Girl," "Chalice in the Palace," and "I Can't Love Another" work a laid-back, amorous vein. Those of "Dreadlocks Dread," "The Great Psalms," and "African Message" are more heated, as U Roy frequently breaks out into James Brown-like squelches. Instrumentally, the most impressive track is "Natty Don't Fear," a dense, reverb-heavy offering spiked with jarring "Scratch" Perry-like echoes. "African Message" even seems to presage hip-hop, with the kind of insistent, rolling bassline that became commonplace in hip-hop in the late '90s. A synthesizer-rich treatment of "Trench Town Rock" makes for a suitable closing track.