Tag Archives: Jamaica 50

20 voices share their reggae story

During 2012 there have been several efforts to celebrate Jamaica’s 50 years of independence from British govern. Concerts, albums and songs are some of the events that have occurred.

Together with United Reggae I have asked a bunch of reggae artists, producers and label owners to share their view on the history and future of reggae music. We received many answers, ranging from acclaimed veterans such as BB Seaton, Sly Dunbar and Bunny Rugs, but also from more up and coming producers and singers, including Million Stylez, Mista Savona and Etana.

Most of the people we asked share the same view – reggae has had a huge impact on music makers around the world and that the future looks bright.

But you can find out for yourself and draw your own conclusions when checking the 20 stories over at United Reggae.

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A jubilee selection worthy a Prime Minister

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.

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Record Collector celebrates Jamaica 50

There has been an aggressive amount of celebration around Jamaica’s 50 years of independence, and one of the latest being well-respected UK magazine Record Collector.

The magazine’s editor Ian McCann has with a little help from a bunch of writers, DJ’s and collectors picked ten great 45s for each year the reggae island has been independent.

The 500 (!) vinyl singles were recorded in Jamaica by Jamaican artists and cover 50 years. Some of them being rare as hen’s teeth, with Rocky’s [Anthony Ellis] Studio One single The Ruler being the most valuable with a price amounting to £300.

The list covers almost every reggae genre there is and includes ska scorchers such as Desmond Dekker’s King of Ska and Justin Hinds’ Carry Go Bring Home, but also rootsier gems like Sylford Walker’s Burn Babylon and the late Prince Far I’s dread Heavy Manners. There are also plenty of smash hits – Shaggy’s Oh Carolina, Gyptian’s Hold You and Bob Marley’s Iron, Lion, Zion being some of the biggest.

If you want to acquire all 500 singles it’ll take a lifelong search and will most likely cost you a minor fortune. Happily enough we live in a digital age and the majority of the tracks are available online.

So to help you get that impeccable collection of Jamaican music covering the past 50 years I’ve made it very cheap and almost effortless for you by making a Spotify playlist.

The list starts in 1962 with Derrick & Patsy’s Housewife’s Choice and ends 50 years later with Jah Cure’s Nothing. By listening to the list from beginning to end you’ll hear how varied reggae music is and also be able to hear how the music has developed over the years.

Naturally all 500 songs weren’t available on Spotify, and about one hundred are unfortunately missing. Also, the versions available are not always the actual single version, since reggae artists are famous for recording the same track for different producers.

The decades that are in the greatest need of a satisfactory digital reissue program are the 60’s and 70’s. However, most tracks by well-known artists are available, while the more obscure ones are unavailable.

By downloading the playlist you can listen to all 388 tracks, but you’ll not get all the indispensible information given in the actual article. Therefore I suggest you head out to your local news stand, record shop or website to get yourself a copy. Highly recommended reading.

Download the playlist here and enjoy the music. Thanks to Record Collector for making the huge effort to compile it.

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True sounds of freedom

The legendary Trojan label has had a huge upswing over the last years with some sublime and interesting reissues, including classics and overlooked gems on both vinyl and CD.

The latest addition is the Freedom Sounds box set with music ranging from early shuffling Jamaican boogie to profound roots reggae and ragga. It comes with five discs collecting a total of 108 songs along with four post cards, a sticker and a 52 page booklet focusing on the history of Jamaica and its musical heritage written by Ian McCann, editor of Record Collector magazine.

Trojan has obviously put some thought and hard work into this compilation. All discs have their own direction – Freedom Sounds, Jamaican Hits, Pioneers, Innovators and Forgotten Treasures. Most of the 23 tracks on the hits disc are well-known, while many of the others are new to CD and have also not been issued outside Jamaica until now, including some crucial moments by Toots & The Maytals, The Carib Beats and The Planners.

The majority of the tracks were issued in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and there’s no contemporary roots or dancehall included and almost no ragga.

But that’s not an issue, because this compilation is determined to successfully celebrate the leading performers, producers and studios that have shaped Jamaica’s national sound over 50 years.

And this is not just another compilation to celebrate Jamaica’s 50 years of independence nor is it just another reggae compilation with the standard list of hits from the usual suspects.

Freedom Sounds is one of the best compilations in recent years and a well-representative overview of Jamaica’s gift to the world of music, a gift that has influenced generations of music makers around the world for more than five decades.

These sounds lead the way and will certainly set your mind and body free. Get it now. It’s a no-brainer.

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An educational reggae history lesson from VP Records

VP Records’ Out of Many – 50 Years of Reggae Music is the fourth various artists compilation album to celebrate 50 years of Jamaican independence that I’ve come across in the past weeks.

This three disc compilation is chronologically compiled with one track per year over 50 years taken from VP’s and Greensleeves’ huge reggae vaults. Included are gems such as Lord Creator’s mento/calypso Independent Jamaica, Nicky Thomas’ Jamaican mixed version of Love of the Common People, Barrington Levy’s mighty Here I Come and the smash hits Get Busy and Hold You from Sean Paul and Gyptian respectively.

Included are also the odd – in this context anyway – Smoking My Ganja by Capital Letters, Hello Darling from Tippa Irie and Ninjaman & Ninja Ford’s The Return of Father & Son. Not bad tunes per se, but they don’t fit the compilation. This is actually also the case with the Horsepower Production’s dubstep remix of Yellowman’s Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.

There is unfortunately no dub or nynabinghi included, but the gender distribution is way better than Island Records’ Jamaica 50 compilation Sound System: The Story of Jamaican Music reviewed about a month ago.

In VP’s history lesson they’ve included eight female singers, among them Lady Saw, Etana and Marcia Aitken.

The brief liner notes are written by reggae historian Noel Hawkes and puts reggae – and its many sub genres – as well as the history of VP Records in context.

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