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Foundations of Reggae Music
Go to Part One or Part Three
Much of this "history" is included in the notes for "This is Reggae Music: The Golden Era 1960-1975" - a four CD set that provides a great musical overview of the genre - the selections and sound quality are excellent through out - a vital Ras John Reggae12.com Pick! 


Part's 4, 5 and 6 continued in next section (Part Three)

Ska's large brass ensembles gave way to smaller groups and the debt to American Soul music became greater as Ska morphed into Rocksteady. Vocals came to the fore, and the tempo slowed; perhaps, as local folklore says, because the especially hot summer of 1966 led dancers to call for slower songs. Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield's Impressions were almost godlike in their influence. Many younger artists, like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots Hibbert, made their first recordings dur­ing the Ska era, but only came into their own with Rocksteady.

Rocksteady was over almost before it began, but its artistic flowering produced many great records in a com­pressed time span. By 1968, Rocksteady was giving way to Reggae, but pinpointing the first Reggae record is no easier than pinpointing the first Ska or Rocksteady record.  Unlike its predeces­sors, Reggae owed little to Fats Domino, the Impressions, or any American music. It was the heartbeat of an island just seventeen degrees from the equator, and it was the sound of country come to town. "Ivan Martin," played by Jimmy Cliff in the film The Harder They Come, was. the quintessential country boy adrift in Kingston 's mean streets. "Until Reggae," said producer lee Perry, who was himself from the country, "it was all Kingston , Kingston , Kingston . Then the country people come to town and they bring the earth, the trees, the mountains. That's when Reggae music come back to the earth."

Haile Selassie I on cover of Time MagazineRocksteady, like Soul music, had the commercial discipline of white pop music, but Reggae rejected that discipline, and its retrieval of the Africanness in Afro-Caribbean music went hand-in­hand with the rise of Rastafari. The Burrus, who'd lived communally in Jamaica since slavery and held fast to their African roots, shared housing in the low-rent west Kingston district of Dungle with the Rastafarians, who believed that a black king would be crowned in Africa and lead the lost tribes out of Babylon . The music, the beliefs, and the dress of the Rastas influenced the sound, the spiritual agenda, and the look of Reggae.
The music played out against a disinte­grating social backdrop. Jamaica had become independent from Great Britain in 1962, but, as the promise of Independence faded, Reggae became politicized and angry. By the time this set closes in 1975, the music was past making compromises with the tourist trade and long past hoping to get on American radio.

The Trojan Records collection "Dawning of a New Era" chronicles a time during the late 60's when Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae were all blending and evolving, drawing in new fans worldwide.  The 2-disc set pulls together prime records from 1968-69, a period when Skinheads were still largely an underground youth movement and not a violent newspaper headline. 

The great thing about this set of tracks is you don't get stuck with more copies of Desmond Dekker's hits but rather, you get rare and in demand records.  Many of the tracks on this set have never been issued since their original small pressings nearly thirty-five years ago. And with artists of the caliber of Rico Rodriquez, Lloyd Charmers, The Tennors, Lester Sterling, the Ethiopians and Tommy McCook featured, this collection is a great addition to your collection if you like Ska and the Skinhead sound. 

The Skinheads were a youth movement that sprang up from the working class youth in Britain.  They were seasoned with some angst that came from tough neighborhoods and they choose the Ska beat and Reggae sounds coming out of the West Indies and Black neighborhoods as their own.  The beat suited their aggressive and sometimes angry attitude and here are the roots of bands like The Clash and punk rock.  The Skinhead interest in Reggae in particular pushed the music into the awareness of the public at large and helped many Reggae artists break into the Pop charts in England.  The Skinhead Movement only lasted about four years but it was an important key to mainstream success for Reggae Music.

Here are a few samples - 
The Tenors - Another Scorcher
Dandy - Rock Steady Gone
The Tenors - Reggae Girl 

 Part Two of A History of Reggae Music from "This is Reggae Music: The Golden Era 1960-1975"
Go to Part One or Part Three

Editorial Reviews
Reggae's golden age was as bright as the following years have been dim for the once glorious genre. Indeed, it's the work of the pioneers of the '60s and '70s that, more than ever, defines reggae decades after the heydays of Marley, Toots, and Tosh. This four-disc, chronologically arranged box set (in contrast with 2001's similarly expansive but more wide-ranging Reggae Box) maintains its focus on the first decade and a half of reggae and its antecedents, allowing the compilers to delve deeper into the great one-offs that played a vital role in shaping the classic sound. Yes, like countless reggae compilations before it, this Trojan set features "Israelites," "Pressure Drop," "Rivers of Babylon," "Trenchtown Rock," and "Marcus Garvey." In addition to those indisputable touchstones, however, This is Reggae Music generously and expertly plunges into a remarkable archive to highlight the less-celebrated likes of Bongo Man Byfield, the Uniques, and Ken Parker. Colin Escott's pithy but erudite history and track-by-track summary further flesh out this exemplary package. --Steven Stolder

Go on to Part Three:  Reggae Inna Babylon

Go BACK to Part One:  DAy-O!

  Box Set Charts Reggae History

Listen to this story... 

All Things Considered, January 5, 2005 · Tom Terrell has a review of a new boxed set of reggae music that spans 1960-1975. The four CDs include music from top artists such as The Wailers and Jimmy Cliff, and lesser-known singers from reggae's early beginnings.


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