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50 best reggae songs in 2012

So it’s that time of the year again. December means best-of-the-year-lists, and first out is the best songs put out in 2012.

This year I decided to make a huge list covering no less than 50 tracks, mainly for two reasons – it has been a great year for both reggae and dancehall and I also wanted to present a list showcasing several different styles – dancehall, dubstep, one drop and UK steppers are all included on the list.

Just as previous years the list features mostly artists from Jamaica, while the producers hail from Europe, the U.S. and Jamaica. What makes this year’s list a bit different though is the inclusion of lots of dancehall. This year has been fruitful for electronic, bouncy and playful dancehall.

When browsing the list you’ll probably notice that Tarrus Riley is still the artist running the show. On the production side Frenchie from Maximum Sound is perhaps the most reliable and consistent producer and all of his riddims from 2012 are included in the list.

Female singers are few and far between. It’s a pity, but it’s sadly how the reggae industry looks like. A one riddim album usually has about ten tracks, and of these one, or at most two, are by female artists. This has been the case for years, and nothing indicates a change in the near future.

The tracks are presented in no particular order and I’ve only selected tracks released as singles, from one riddim albums or from compilations, i.e. no one artist albums.

If you’re curious about the music you can check a playlist I’ve made on Spotify by clicking here. This list doesn’t however cover all tracks, and lethal gems such as General Levy’s Dub Murda on Irie Ites’ Stop That Sound riddim or Loyal FlamesKeep Focus. The latter is currently only available as 7” and the former is available on other digital platforms, for example iTunes.

Song title – artist (label – riddim)

Capital Offence – Captain Sinbad (Maximum Sound – Rudebwoy be Nice)

Selecta – Rayvon (Ranch Ent. – Kingston 13)

Final Move – Cornadoor & Kabaka Pyramid (Weedy G Soundforce)

Original Dancehall Days – Starkey Banton (Mafia & Fluxy – Bun n’ Cheese)

We Run It –Tarrus Riley (Charlie Pro)

Go Down – Machel Montano (Mixpak – Loudspeaker)

It’s a Party – Elephant Man & Tarrus Riley (Romeich – Stinking Link)

Shots – Voicemail (Akom – Full Swing)

No Barbershop – Conkarah (Lifeline – Rock Fort Rock)

Badmind a Kill Dem – Popcaan (UPT 007 – Juicy)

Trod in the Valley – Lorenzo (Irie Ites – Borderline RMX)

Chill Spot – Chris Martin (Chimney – Chill Spot)

Independent Ladies – Gaza Slim (TJ – Summer Wave)

Chant Rastafari – Tarrus Riley (Maximum Sound – Most Royal)

Blood Thirsty – Jah Mali (Necessary Mayhem – Possessed)

Fire Fire – Capleton (Dynasty – Kush Morning)

Perilous Times – Luciano (Maximum Sound – Dance Ruler)

Start A Fyah – Chronixx (Jungle Josh – Game Theory)

Cyaan Tek Di System – Burro Banton (Weedy G Soundforce – Roadster)

Make It Bun Dem – Skrillex & Damian Marley (Big Beat)

Kingston Town Remix – Busy Signal & Damian Marley (VP)

Addicted – Conkarah & Denyque (Lifeline)

Irie Collie – The Tamlins (Irie Ites – Jah Jah Man)

Nuh Rate Dem – Capleton (DJ Frass – Cross Fire)

Sorry Is A Sorry Word – Tarrus Riley (TJ – Live In Love)

OK – Sizzla & Neïman (Union World – Melodical Fyah)

Jump + Rock + Move – Wrongtom & Deemas J (Tru Thoughts)

Blaze & Rum – Etzia & Fambo (Jugglerz – Kickdown)

Let Jah Lead The Way – Iba Mahr (Notice Productions – Digital Love)

Badmind Dem A Pree – I Octane & Bounty Killer (Markus)

Wild Bubble – Voicemail (Cr203/ZJ Chrome – Wild Bubble)

We Nah Bow – Sizzla (Boom Shak – We Nah Bow)

Obeah Man – Turbulence & I Shenko (Riddim Wise – Downtown)

Kingston Be Wise – Protoje (Don Corleon)

Upgrade – Ce’Cile (21st Hapilos – Corner Shop)

Dub Murda – General Levy (Irie Ites – Stop That Sound)

Them See Me As A Threat – Lutan Fyah (Adde Instrumentals/RR345 Muzik – Sweet Sounds)

Again And Again – Stein (Cashflow – Sun Tan)

Mama – Christopher Martin (DZL – Perfect Key)

Party – Top Cat (Weedy G Soundforce – Jump Up!)

R.A.S.T.A.F.A.R.I. – Professa Natti (Scoops)

Sound System Culture – Digitaldubs & YT (Scotch Bonnet)

Words Of My Mouth – Earl Sixteen (The Bombist – Words Of My Mouth)

How Do You Like My Music – Terry Linen (TeTe)

Keep Focus – Loyal Flames (Vikings – Focus)

I’m A Survivor – Peetah Morgan (Special Delivery – Feel Good)

The Streets of London – Soothsayers (Red Earth)

Every Single Thought – Christopher Martin (Jugglerz – Street Soul)

Badda Dan Dem – Beenie Man (Radio Active)

Jamaica 50 – Captain Sinbad (Maximum Sound – Leggo Di Riddim)


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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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Half-year report – five favorite albums

A few months ago I wrote on Twitter and Facebook that the reggae year has been musically blessed so far with a huge number of very worthwhile album releases.

And I’m happy to say I feel the same way today. The first six months of 2012 have presented strong efforts from veterans and upcoming newcomers and dancehall and one drop alike. There have also been two sublime acoustic sets.

The album output so far also shows a healthy roots scene in Jamaica with an acclaimed set from the nowadays incarcerated dancehall deejay Busy Signal leading the way. He will hopefully have a good influence on Jamaican youths, and increase their interest in more old-fashioned reggae.

But the album output also shows that reggae is global. You don’t have to be in Kingston to record a great album. Just listen to the excellent sets from Bambú Station, Nazarenes, Winston Reedy, Lymie Murray and Skarra Mucci. These albums were mostly recorded in Europe or the U.S.

Below I have selected five of my most played albums so far this year. The competition for these five spots has been fierce between the many combatants. Compilations and reissues were ruled out at the very beginning, and I truly hope the coming six months will be as solid as the past ones.

Artist – album title (label)

Da Professor – The Laboratory (Don Corleon)

Lymie Murray – Deeper Roots (I Dwell)

Busy Signal – Reggae Music Again (VP)

Nazarenes – Meditation (I Grade)

Clinton Fearon – Heart and Soul (Chapter Two)

Curious on the albums? Check this Spotify playlist with all of them.

Later this week I’ll publish a half-year report with 15 favorite tunes. Stay tuned. More to come.

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Reggaemani celebrates Jamaica’s 50th anniversary – 2003-2012

This is the final of a five part list compiled as a celebration of Jamaica’s 50 years of independence. The list contains 50 albums – ten for each decade. Today it’s time for 2003-2012.

Over the last ten years reggae music has changed a lot and there’s partly a new power structure. Today – and for a couple of years – the Jamaican dominance in reggae music has been challenged by producers, artists and labels from the U.S. and Europe.

Million Stylez from Sweden, Gentleman from Germany and Gappy Ranks from the UK have all been very successful for a number of years. And do not forget the thriving reggae scene of the U.S. Virgin Islands, mainly fronted by the small island of St. Croix.

In Europe and the U.S. roots reggae is still the most popular genre, while Jamaica prefers contemporary dancehall, a genre heavily influenced by U.S. R&B and hip-hop along with catchy European house.

However, in the last year or so, there has been a roots resurgence in Jamaica and several live bands have also been formed and play around the island as well as abroad. It will be interesting to follow this trend in Jamaica. I truly hope it sticks.

As with the previous periods, the list doesn’t contain any compilations, but as always with Jamaican albums, some albums are more or less made-up of several previously released singles.

Ras Mac Bean – Pack Up and Leave (2004)
Produced by French reggae heroes Irie Ites who hired UK’s finest riddim section Mafia & Fluxy to lay down the mighty heavy one drop riddims on this stunning debut album. Unfortunately Ras Mac Bean has so far only dropped this album, and it’s not often you hear an artist who is just as comfortable with both deejaying and singing.

Luciano – Serious Times (2004)
Luciano continues to sing his contemplative praises of love and unity over a solid one drop backings. Serious Times is mostly produced by veteran saxophonist Dean Fraser and includes a number of unexpected covers, such as a smoothly skanking take on Harry Nilsson’s Echoes of My Mind and a roots rocking version of José Feliciano’s Come Down Jesus.

Michael Rose – African Roots (2005)
Canadian dub master Ryan Moore – nowadays resident in Holland – of Twilight Circus Dub Sound System is responsible for this melancholic dub-infused roots reggae disc with Michael Rose at his best since Black Uhuru.

Lukie D – Deliver Me (2006)
The passionate and soulful vocal talents of Lukie D have never sounded better than over these Frenchie-produced riddims. A blazingly soulful album from start to finish.

Tarrus Riley – Parables (2006)
Tarrus Riley – son of Jamaican singer Jimmy Riley – is one of the most consistent reggae singers in recent years, and his feel for infectious melodies, beautiful arrangements and lush choruses are apparent on an album like Parables.

Chezidek – Inna di Road (2007)
What Chezidek lacks in pitch control he gains in charm and energy. Over the years he has been able to work with some of the best producers around, such as Bobby Konders on this powerful set of songs. It contains the anthemic Call Pon Dem and Inna di Road, on an updated version of Yabby You’s Jah Love riddim.

Franz Job – Babylon is Dead (2009)
On Franz Job’s debut album Babylon is Dead he sings affectionate praises of his native island of Tobago to a sweet skanking back drop. Dougie Conscious mixed the album and put seven of the songs through a dub workout. The result is an organic and positive album, quite different from the usual semi-computerized digi-reggae style he is known for.

Nas & Damian MarleyDistant Relatives (2010)
An album that explores and intertwines roots reggae with hip-hop, dancehall with jazz and soul with African music. It contains plenty of effective samples, rough and tough beats and aggressive percussion work. An urban album made of an equal amount of Kingston, Bamako and New York.

Clinton Fearon – Mi Deh Ya (2010)
Clinton Fearon was responsible for some of the best material recorded by The Gladiators, where he played bass, sung back-up vocals and occasionally lead. He left the band in the 80’s and has in the past ten years recorded albums that are rural, bluesy and infectiously melodic. Just as this one.

AlpheusFrom Creation (2011)
An album by a singer who is in love with 60’s ska and rocksteady and a producer who just doesn’t know the meaning of below par. From the Creation is carefully crafted and an exciting blend of heart, mind and soul. Listen to the haunting Far Away or the stomping We Are Strong. Timeless.

Curious about the albums? Check this Spotify playlist with nine of the albums.


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Reggaemani celebrates Jamaica’s 50th anniversary – 1993-2002

This is the fourth of a five part list compiled as a celebration of Jamaica’s 50 years of independence. The list contains 50 albums – ten for each decade. Today it’s time for 1993-2002.

During the early 90’s ragga with mainly slack lyrics dominated the Jamaican dancehall and the airwaves with deejays such as Ninjaman and Cutty Ranks. At the same time a new breed of roots reggae singers started to come forward. This era is appropriately described in the indispensable book The Rough Guide to Reggae as “rasta renaissance”.

During this period a number of world-class performers entered the scene, and several of these are still very much active on the scene. I’m talking about Luciano, Sizzla, Capleton and Bushman.

But 1993-2002 is also the period when two new reggae superstars rise and completely rule the reggae charts as well as the more mainstream ones.

Shaggy scores two major hits with Bombastic in 1995 and It wasn’t Me five years later and Sean Paul drops several smash hits during the early 2000’s, including Gimme the Light, Like Glue and Get Busy.

As with the previous periods, the list doesn’t contain any compilations, but as always with Jamaican albums, some albums are more or less made-up of several previously released singles.

Luciano – Where There is Life (1995)
Luciano is a pivotal figure in the development of modern roots reggae, and several of his mid 90’s albums are essential. On this Phillip “Fatis” Burrell produced album he sings with confidence and coolness and lines up masterpiece after masterpiece, including Lord Give Me Strength and It’s Me Again Jah.

Buju Banton – ’Til Shiloh (1995)
In 1995 Buju Banton ventured into spirituality with the semi-acoustic lighter raising Untold Stories. His shift towards conscious and cultural themes is apparent on the deejay’s magnum opus ‘Til Shiloh, on which he with both power and emotion rages against Jamaican domestic violence, pays homage to Africa and praises Jah.

Anthony B – Real Revolutionary (1996)
Just as Sizzla, Anthony B belonged to a new generation of cultural deejays in the mid 90’s, and both were at the forefront with their messages of righteousness and equality. His delivery is fierce on this Richard “Bello” Bell produced set, a set that contains the controversial Fire pon Rome along with Repentance Time and an interpretation of Tracy Chapman’s Cold Feet.

Sizzla – Black Woman & Child (1997)
The prolific turban-clad righteous ranter Sizzla has had his ups and downs in album quality. But in the mid to late 90’s he reigned the conscious roots dancehall scene with several top-notch albums for Phillip “Fatis” Burrell and Bobby “Digital” Dixon. This Dixon-produced set includes both reworkings of reggae masterpieces and fresh originals, and Sizzla chants are both ferocious and catchy.

Tony Rebel – If Jah (1997)
One of the earliest righteous chanters of the modern roots reggae era in the 90’s, and on this set Tony Rebel rejects slackness with a more melodic approach compared to some of his contemporaries. Includes self-productions as well as collaborations with Donovan Germain, Bobby “Digital” Dixon, Richard “Bello” Bell among others, and notable tracks include his bestselling Jah is By My Side, Know Jah, on a relicked Swing Easy riddim, and the marvelous Marcia Griffiths duet Ready to Go, a version of her own Land of Love.

Bushman – Nyah Man Chant (1997)
Heavily influenced by Dennis Brown, Frankie Paul and Luciano, Bushman has a powerful and no-nonsense vocal approach and sings with attitude and confidence. This debut set is produced by Steely & Clevie and is filled sizzling beats, wicked grooves and thoughtful lyrics.

Jahmali – El Shaddai (1998)
The stunning debut album by this shamefully under recorded singer. Jahmali’s strong and expressive voice is easy to fall in love with, and on this set it’s matched by equally strong and expressive riddims produced by Donovan Germain.

Prezident Brown – To Jah Only (1999)
Prezident Brown has a rhythmic and melodic swinging flow in his chanting style, while his singing is a little rough around the edges. To Jah Only is a cultural album from start to finish and the styles range from modern roots reggae and nyabinghi to danchehall-tinged pop.

Capleton – More Fire (2000)
In the late 90’s the thunderous voiced fire raving Capleton was at the peak of his career. This album collects recordings from 1999 and early 2000 and is filled with brimstone and fire lyrics ready to mash up the world. Song titles such as Pure Sodom, Bun Dung Dreadie and Jah Jah City set the tone.

Ras Shiloh – From Rasta to You (2002)
Ras Shiloh has been described as the reincarnated voice of the late Garnett Silk, and the resemblance between the two singers are spooky. The similarities and differences become apparent on the opening track Complain, a duet where both singers ride the mighty Tempo riddim. The other 16 tracks are just as essential.

Curious about the albums? Check this Spotify playlist with nine of the albums.

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Reggaemani celebrates Jamaica’s 50th anniversary – 1983-1992

This is the third of a five part list compiled as a celebration of Jamaica’s 50 years of independence. The list contains 50 albums – ten for each decade. Today it’s time for 1983-1992.

The years covered today includes a major shift in reggae music, a shift when the genre went digital with the game-changing anthem Under Mi Sleng Teng by Wayne Smith. And remarkable enough a Casio MT-40 home keyboard managed to change the music completely.

Suddenly live musicians weren’t in demand anymore and a new set of producers and artists stepped in. But some of the old crew also managed to get a slice of the cake by adapting to the new realties on the scene where the computerized sound now reigned.

This major shift in reggae music may not be fully justified by my list, since none of the albums selected are digital to the fullest. Some are semi-computerized though, such as the pumping productions by Sly & Robbie and the futuristic sounds of Augustus “Gussie” Clarke.

As with 1962-1972 and 1973-1982 the list doesn’t contain any compilations, but as always with Jamaican albums, some albums are more or less made-up of several previously released singles.

The MeditationsNo More Friend (1983)
The roots harmonizing courtesy of Ansel Cridland, Danny Clarke and Winston Watson aka The Meditations were taken to a new level when they met up with singer and producer Linval Thompson, responsible for this early dancehall set. Together they managed to carry their sound into a new decade without losing their roots.

Charlie Chaplin – One of a Kind (1983)
Maybe not as well-known as his contemporary rivals Yellowman and Josey Wales, but equal, or above, their standard. Always conscious and always with a leisure melodic flow, and this set shows him in excellent form with gems such as the title track and Sturgav Special, a combination with the late Jim Kelly.

Ini Kamoze – Ini Kamoze (1984)
A strong debut album and an album with vocal cuts followed by a dub version. Ini Kamoze has yet to repeat this solid effort and if you listen to the album you’ll recognize World a Music as the riddim Damian Marley used for his smash hit Welcome to Jamrock two decades later.

Brigadier Jerry – Jamaica, Jamaica (1985)
The sadly very under recorded Brigadier Jerry – whose sister is the female deejay Sister Nancy – spent more time performing for the Jah Love sound system rather than hanging around the Kingston studios. This is his debut studio album and includes a mighty version of Bunny Wailer’s Armagideon.

Half pint – Greetings (1985)
The energetic singing style of Half Pint was very well-suited for these boisterous George Phang-produced riddims provided by Sly & Robbie. The anthemic title track stands out along with Brotherly Love and the bouncy Level the Vibes.

Dennis Brown – Brown Sugar (1986)
Includes seven vocal tracks followed by its dub version and Dennis Brown was at the time at the peak of his career. The set is produced by Sly & Robbie and the riddims are organic, powerful and fresh with Revolution and Sitting and Watching being particularly tasty.

Mighty Diamonds – The Real Enemy (1987)
Released just as the influential Jamaican producer Augustus “Gussie” Clarke had started to experiment with his intricate semi-computerized riddims. The Mighty Diamonds sound as eloquent as they did in the 70’s and their harmonizing is as gorgeous as ever.

Gregory Isaacs – Red Rose for Gregory (1988)
On this groundbreaking and ground shaking set Gregory Isaacs teamed up with producer Augustus “Gussie” Clarke for another album. The dark high-tech sound is innovative, and tunes like Rumours, Mind Yu Dis and Rough Neck sounds as fresh today as they did more than 20 years ago.

Garnett Silk – It’s Growing (1992)
When Garnett Silk arrived on the scene in the early 90’s his conscious lyrics and fresh gospel-tinged vocals were almost the antithesis to the gruff gun-praising deejays of the day. This is his first and only studio album, since he died in a gas accident only 28 years old. It’s Growing shows a great talent, a great performer and a great singer. And he was only warming up on this landmark in modern roots reggae.

 Yami Bolo – Up Life Street (1992)
The waterhouse style was started by Michael Rose in the 70’s and has since been developed by singers such as Junior Reid and Yami Bolo, and Yami Bolo’s passionate crying vocals flows nicely over the hard riddims on his third album Up Life Street, produced by Trevor “Leggo” Douglas.

Curious about the albums? Check this Spotify playlist that includes eight of the albums above.

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Reggaemani celebrates Jamaica’s 50th anniversary – 1973-1982

This is the second of a five part list compiled as a celebration of Jamaica’s 50 years of independence. The list contains 50 albums – ten for each decade. Today it’s time for 1973-1982.

The journey begins in 1976 with two rootsy vocal harmony trios – The Gladiators and Mighty Diamonds. And roots reggae truly dominates the list with righteous messages and minor chords.

The period 1973-1982 also includes the transition from reggae to rub-a-dub and early dancehall, a period when master producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes dominated the dancehall with his sparse sounds mainly built at Channel One with Roots Radics handling the riddims and Scientist behind the mixing desk.

Many of the albums selected are today regarded as classics and have certainly won the battle against time.

When you browse through the list you’ll realize that one group and three individual artists are missing. Why? For two reasons.

Firstly, their albums are already intensively recognized and heavily written about.

Secondly, and more importantly, I believe there are artists better than Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and groups that exceed The Wailers as well as albums that outshine Catch a Fire, Soul Rebels or Burnin’.

The list doesn’t contain any compilations, but as always with Jamaican albums, some albums are more or less made-up of several previously released singles.

The Gladiators – Trench Town Mix Up (1976)
Includes several updated versions of their earlier Studio One recordings along with a few Bob Marley covers, but also new material, such as Know Yourself Mankind. This is rural and up-in-the-hills reggae at its best.

Mighty Diamonds – Right Time aka I Need a Roof (1976)
A stunning debut album with excellent harmonies on top of updated Studio One riddims supplemented by the Revolutionaries, who became the in-house studio band at the Hookim brothers Channel One studio.

Culture – Two Seven’s Clash (1977)
One of several albums in the later part of the 70’s that established Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson aka the Mighty Two as a major force in reggae music. This apocalyptic set brought forward the much talented Joseph Hill and includes several very memorable moments, among them the title track, See Them a Come and Black Starliner Must Come.

Dennis Brown – Visions (1978)
When this album was released the late Dennis Brown was only 21 years old, but already a veteran with about eight albums already put out. On Vision he was on the verge of international stardom and it must have given him a push forward. It’s a pity that he was never fully recognized outside Jamaica, since this album shows an extraordinary singer, equally at ease with cultural and lovers themes.

Gregory Isaacs – Soon Forward (1979)
One of Gregory Isaacs’ many immortal albums in the late 70’s, and produced by the singer himself along with Sly & Robbie, who were responsible for the brilliant title track.

Black Uhuru – Showcase (1979)
The group’s first album together with U.S. female singer Puma Jones and also their first with Sly & Robbie handling production, and it was the beginning of a very fruitful partnership. Includes six vocal tracks – among them a new version of Michael Rose’s own Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – followed by its dub version.

Wailing SoulsWild Suspense (1979)
A self-produced triumph from start to end. Minor key roots harmonizing at its best with outstanding material, including Bredda Gravalicious, Feel the Spirit and Slow Coach.

Johnny Osbourne – Truths & Rights (1979)
His second album and released nine years after his debut set. Truths & Rights reuses several fantastic vintage Studio One riddims, and includes masterpieces such as the title track, We Need Love and Sing Jah Stylee.

Toyan – How the West Was Won (1981)
One of several great deejay albums produced by Henry “Junjo” Lawes in the early 80’s. Toyan – sometimes with the prefix Ranking – was in his prime and chats over tough riddims provided by the always reliable and relentless Roots Radics. Highlights include treats such as Children Children, over Johnny Osbourne’s Ice Cream Love, the title track, which uses the Gunman riddim.

Lone Ranger – Hi-Yo, Silver Away! (1982)
Maybe best known for his ribbits, oinks and biddly-biddly bims, but the masked ranger is more than a mere novelty act. On this album – partly self-produced – Lone Ranger mixes social commentary with amusing nonsense lyrics on top of well-crafted Sly & Robbie riddims.

Curious on how the albums sound? Check this Spotify playlist that includes nine of the albums.

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The art of music consumption

”Fuck Spotify”. Two words, one sentence, that has travelled all over the world due to Twitter.

These famous words were exclaimed recently by the to me unknown musician and producer Jon Hopkins. His reason for these strong words? Poor revenues from streaming service Spotify. Jon Hopkins had received a petty 8 GBP for 90,000 plays.

At the same time that Spotify is criticized, the company announces 2.5 million paying subscribers.

When I use Spotify I get frustrated when I don’t find what I’m looking for. Sure, most people are upset that Metallica or Beatles are not available. But, I’d rather find the catalogues from, say, Pressure Sounds, Heartbeat or Soul Jazz Records.

And I really hate when you find an album, but only half of the material is available. It most certainly has to do with copyright issues.

Some labels are actually also removing their material from Spotify and other streaming services. This out of two main reasons. It’s just not worth it and the service is cannibalizing on other, more lucrative, formats.

I really like Spotify. It is a great complement to other formats, but I wouldn’t rely on it solely for my music consumption. The supply is just to poor at the moment, and it’s not the same as owning your own copy – physical or not.

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Commercial radio gets me down

Yesterday I was driving home from my parent’s house. On the radio I had DigiListan, a list that assembles the most downloaded tunes in Sweden over the past week.

I came in around Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F), a song that was on number 34, but has spent several weeks on the list. During the two hour drive I followed the countdown to the number one spot, a spot held by Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera and their Moves Like Jagger.

When the list reached number one I was furious. I mean, what the hell are people listening to? Counting from 34 and down there were two or three good songs – Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and Set Fire to the Rain as well as Swedish singer Veronica Maggio and her Välkommen in.

The rest was crap. Most of it anyway.

The music most people obviously are buying is made for the gym. It is too focused on energy. Where’s the bass line? The lyrical content? The voice? Yes, you guessed it – it’s not there.

Instead we have bullshit lyrics and auto-tune.

David Guetta, Pitbull, Lady Gaga and all others may be mighty popular. But their music is made for instant consuming. It’s not something you’ll save and listen to in ten years. The purpose is the same as for any fast food chain – buy, eat and move on.

This has of course also been going on in reggae, especially dancehall, for some years now. But, since I’m addicted to reggae I’m more forgiving of tunes with a reggae beat.

If you enjoy DigiListan and its global counterparts I have some suggestions for you. Eleven suggestions in reggae style.

Some of these are in the fast consuming business, while others are more timeless. At least in my opinion. What they all have in common is that they hopefully appeal to commercial radio listeners.

If you have Spotify you can download the list here. If not, here are the songs:

J Boog & Peetah – Sunshine Girl
Christopher Martin – Top a Top
Hollie Cook – Walking in the Sand
Romain Virgo – I’m Rich in Love
Chino & Denyque – Driving Me Insane
Mavado – Final Destination
Di Genius – Bounce a Gyal
Ray Darwin & Sara Lugo – Good for You
Vybz Kartel – Summer Time
Tarrus Riley – Bless Me
Keida & Protoje – All Again

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Preparing for Uppsala Reggae Festival

This Thursday it’s time for the eleventh edition of Uppsala Reggae Festival – a three day celebration of the music I love.

This year the promoters have managed to get two of my all-time favorite singers to attend the festival – gritty singers Toots Hibbert and Ken Boothe. These veterans have written and performed some of the best reggae tunes ever made.

You know what I’m talking about, right? 54-46 Was My Number, Freedom Street, Funky Kingston, Crying Over You and so forth. The list could go on and on and on.

Apart from these two, there are many more artists to see and listen to. Since I’m still very much fond of old school reggae I’m looking forward to Johnny Clarke and The Heptones. Hopefully I’m treated tunes like Mr. President and Ites Green and Gold.

If I would chose some of the more current acts, it would be Queen Ifrica, Richie Spice, Protoje and the upcoming king of contemporary lovers rock – Romain Virgo.

To contain my excitement over Uppsala Reggae Festival I’ve compiled a playlist using Spotify – a streaming service very easy to use and download, and available in the U.S. for a few weeks now.

The playlist includes almost 70 tunes from the artists mentioned above, plus a bunch of others that are performing this weekend. Just click this link and download the playlist to your computer or smart phone. And I hope to see you in Uppsala.

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