Musical tributes to Jamaica’s 50th year of independence continue to arrive, even three months after the island’s national day.
Reggae Golden Jubilee: Origins Of Jamaican Music – 50th Anniversary is a beautifully put together four disc and book box set partly selected by former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga (Jamaican Labor Party), whose interests in the music and folklore of Jamaica go as far back as its recording history being both a record producer and a label owner.
The 100 tracks showcase the origin and evolution of Jamaican music and include several significant milestones, taking its start with Theophilus Beckford’s Easy Snappin’ and closing with Mavado’s On the Rock. In between these two monster tunes there are many tracks marking the start of several reggae sub genres, including ska, rocksteady, dancehall and ragga, and most of the selected tunes are on the smoother side of things.
There’s however a lack of the sounds of nyabinghi and dub, and the shortage of the latter was explained by Edward Seaga himself at an event in New York City in late November, where he said “It is minimal performance in the recording, with too much space left; and that is why DJ music followed immediately-with toasting by artist like U-Roy- filling in the space.”
Apart from being instrumental in choosing the music, Edward Seaga has also contributed to the 64 page booklet text alongside John Masouri, Dermot Hussey and Christopher Chin as well as Daddy Lion Chandell, Donald Clive Davidson and Roy Black who have written the track-by-track text parts.
The booklet is really extraordinary and includes rare photographs and short essays on each music period. Most of the 100 tracks have been on dozens on compilations and are easy available elsewhere, so the packaging and the booklet are the main driving forces for investing in this piece of musical history. Unless you’re completely new to reggae, then there’s plenty of amazing tunes to enjoy.