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Foundations of Reggae Music
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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! 


JA Sound System

Nothing epitomizes the cultural divide between the United States and Great Britain better than Reggae. The West Indian community in England demanded the sounds of home, and the music's cult following among white kids occasionally bubbled over into mass acceptance. In America, the music of the West Indian communities in New York, Miami, and Washington didn't cross over. Very few Reggae recordings were made here. At some point in the 1960s, Lloyd Barnes set up a studio on White Plains Road in the Bronx to record some local Reggae acts and a few visiting stars, but his records didn't reach very far.
Desmond Dekker (read more about Desmond Dekker) became a one-hit-won­der in 1969 with "Israelites," and Jimmy Cliff (read more about Jimmy Cliff) scored hits in 1969 and 1970 with "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" and "Come Into My Life." It was just enough activity for Rolling Stone to want to know what was going on. Reporter Courtney Tulloch went to Jamaica in 1971, and dug a little deeper than the Billboard reporter fourteen years earlier, but wasn't optimistic about the music's chances here. "The contention of many whit e musicians that Reggae is repetitive rubbish may stem in part from their inability to play it," he wrote. But within a year or two, they'd be playing it whether they liked it or not.

The Maytals

The upturn began in 1972 when Houston-based Johnny Nash returned from Sweden and London with Bob Marley's "Stir It Up," and a song he'd written himself, "I Can See Clearly Now." Both cracked the Top 10, and "I Can See Clearly Now" went all the way to Number One. That same year, Paul Simon recorded "Mother And Child Reunion" in Jamaica with the Maytals. Then, in July 1972, The Harder They Come movie opened in the London 's Jamaican enclave, Brixton, and made its way around the American art house circuit. The accompanying soundtrack LP became comparable to the o Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack in that it eventually eclipsed the movie, and became the token Reggae album in many collections.

Reggae truly came above ground in 1974 when Eric Clapton topped the charts with Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff." (read more about Bob Marley) When Johnny Nash had recorded Marley's songs a couple of years earlier, it hadn't don e much for Marley's career, but now his hour had come. By 1974, he had two LPs in American record stores, Burnin' and Catch A Fire, with major label distribution and rock radio-friendly mixes. Reggae was suddenly very hip. American labels began waving their checkbooks. Reggae musicians played at Mick Jagger's wedding, Stevie Wonder wrote "Boogie On Reggae Woman," and Aretha Franklin recorded "Rocksteady." The Shakers became the first white American Reggae band to secure a major label deal. Reggae was not only hip, but the music of the toking classes. The languorous rhythms, the exoticism, and the anti-authoritari­anism were tailor-made for the early 1970S.

Marley became Reggae's iconic presence, but had not long to linger. Neither did the music as it is heard here. By the mid-1970S, change had come. The deejays were no longer a passive presence; they took the backing tracks (often the B-sides of singles), and "dubbed" over the top, pointing straight toward contemporary urban music. Reggae split into subsets and the songs became m ore politicized, reflecting the open warfare that led travel agents to advise against even setting foot in Jamaica . With Marley's death in 1981, Reggae lost its figurehead, and most Reggae artists on major labels lost their deals within a year. The industry switched its focus to acts like the Police, Madness, or the Clash who made user-friendly Reggae. It might have been a different story if American black radio had embraced Reggae, but it never has.  
Reggae Pulse 5: Protest Songs








Listen to Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come" from this collection.

"Protest music identifies inequities, calls for their eradication, and offers avenues in to a more perfect future.  Here are some of the best ever, mixing decades and styles and artists alll of whom have one common purpose, nothing less than changing the world.  The message is clear and it will always remain strong.  A luta continua!"  Roger Steffens

Trojan Records has been a big part of the Story of Reggae music and for fans around the world, it is a wonderful thing that they has started to mine their archives of classic Reggae.  Reggae Pulse 5: Protest Songs is a great collection for everybody - the only reason not to get it would be that you already have all the songs in your collection - even so, everyting has been nicely re-mastered and sounds really good.  This is a HITS collection with many of the selections some of the best material ever released by the various artists: Third World's "96° In The Shade", Junior Reid's "One Blood", Black Uhuru's "Solidarity", Beres Hammond's "Putting Up Resistance", Perer Tosh's "Get Up, Stand Up", Hugh Mundell's "Africa Must Be Free by 1983" and Israel Vibrations' "Same Song".  These are CLASSIC Tracks by anyone's measure.  Then add some great covers of 60's Rock Protest songs: Luciano doing "Eve of Destruction", Freddie McGregor doing "For What It's Worth", YVAD covering Buffy St. Maries' "Universal Soldier" and Don Carlos doing Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind"There's more!  You can listen to Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come" by clicking the link to the left or use the Amazon.com link next to the album cover to get samples and a full track listing.  This is a worthy part of the Story of Reggae Music because it does such a fine job of chronicling the voice of FREEDOM and humanity that REGGAE Music has always put a spotlight on.  Roger Steffen's provides some great liner notes for the collection and the production work of Doctor Dread and Bas Hartong are to be congratulated.  Thanks for this time capsule of the Story of Reggae Music! 
 Part Three of A History of Reggae Music from "This is Reggae Music: The Golden Era 1960-1975"
Go to Part Two or Part One

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

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  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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