Reggae is one of those genres that I can’t help wishing I knew far more about than I actually do. I’ve enough sense to realise that Bob Marley is far from the whole story, and that even within reggae there are sub-genres: Dancehall, Roots, Lovers Rock and Dub, to pick a few. Then of course, there’s the influence it’s had on rock for many years, be it Paul McCartney writing ‘Ob-bla-di’ (from the White Album), The Clash covering Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’ or ‘Willie Williams’ ‘Armagideon Time.’ 2-Tone. Massive Attack. The music of both The Slits and the Au Pairs, and certainly the early work of Public Image Ltd. too without reggae’s influence would be like an omlette without an egg. The Strokes’ second album Room On Fire had a reggae influence, though not to the extent that the Police plundered the genre. Frequently. (Elvis Costello once remarked that ‘someone should tell Sting to stop singing in that ridiculous Jamaican accent’).
Anyway, there have been other bloggers, such as Davy H and Steve who have been trying to get more reggae in the blogosphere. It’s not a genre I feel qualified to write about in deep analysis, but there’s some great stuff I hope people will like.
First up, that knowing dig at those folks who don’t really understand it at all:
Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3 (possible the greatest one hit wonder EVER).
To these ears, grime and dubstep are descended from reggae, if not being part of it. This track was covered by Lethal Bizzle a few months back. This multiracial band were lead by Eddy Grant who had a lot of solo success subsequently:
The Equals -‘Police On My Back.’ mp3
The original of one of those aforementioned Clash covers:
Junior Murvin -‘Police And Thieves.’ mp3
Last year, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood released an album he had compiled of reggae entitled Johnny Greenwood Is the Controller. Here are two tracks from it:
Derrick Harriott -‘Let Me Down Easy.’ mp3
Scotty -‘Clean Race.’ mp3
This track was featured last month over at Teenage Kicks. It’s just too good not to spread the word:
Susan Cadogan -‘Hurts So Good.’ mp3
It was wearingly inevitable that this would end up being used to advertise medicine, but it’s still a cracking song:
Gregory Isaacs -‘Night Nurse.’ mp3
Finally, whether this is ‘reggae’ or not can no doubt be debated by those far more knowledgeable about the genre, but it’s a beautiful, gorgeous song:
Jimmy Cliff -‘Many Rivers To Cross.’ mp3
For great compilations, try anything that Trojan have put out, and Don Letts’ compilation of the tracks he played to the punks at London’s Roxy in 1977 Dreads Meets Punk Rockers Uptown is fabulous. I recently got Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Arkology which is a place for excellent dub.
Like I say, I am not an authority, so I humble offer these as eight great tracks.
PS Just found a site offering some excellent choice cuts here