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Toasting I Roy

Touting I Self
Touting I Self
By I Roy

Heartbeat / Rounder Records: 2001

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This review first appeared in the July 10, 2001 edition of the American Reporter.

The late I Roy (Roy Reid) was one of the early developers of the "toasting" school of reggae vocals, the sort of half-chanted sing-song style later made so famous by popsters English Beat and General Public (and somewhat less derivatively by Madness and The Specials).

But if Ranking Roger of the Beat and General Public got rich and famous "toasting," neither fame nor riches came I Roy's way. Known mostly to hard-core reggae fans, I Roy's accessible, upbeat songs have largely escaped the public's radar.

Which is our loss as much as his. I Roy's optimism and humor not only leavened the social commentary at the very heart of reggae, but they also pointed toward a better future.

In addition to his positive spirit, I Roy was also possessed of a fine, beautiful voice – the perfect vehicle for carrying his message.

All of this is on display in a new career overview prepared by I Roy himself shortly before his death. There's nothing here that will be familiar to the casual listener who knows of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and not much else; few if any of his songs ever were heard on a mainstream radio station.

But there is incredible music of the heart here, music of dignity and hope, laid down over some very cool grooves.