For the last couple of months the market has been almost flooded with celebrations on Jamaica’s 50th year of independence, as Reggaemani has previously noted. There have been magazine articles, concerts and single and album releases. And some genuinely fine various artist compilations to showcase reggae music.
The four volumes of Bass Culture is one of the finest – if not the finest – yet. Each volume collects 40 tracks on two discs covering the 60’s ska and rocksteady era (This Town is Too Hot!), the early reggae era (Boss Sounds 1968-1972), roots, rockers, DJ’s and dub (When Reggae Was King 1970-1980) and the birth of dancehall (Mash You Down 1980-1985).
Compiler Jim Layne has dug deep in the record bins and has done an outstanding job selecting the tracks for each volume. There are almost no fillers and the ratio between unknown gems and smash hits are handled carefully, which makes the set interesting for hardcore collectors as well as the more casual reggae fan.
Almost all artists, groups, producers and labels that have had an impact on reggae are included, for example Coxsone Dodd, Niney, Bunny Lee, Linval Thompson, Prince Buster, Prince Jammy and Joe Gibbs, to name but a few.
Each volume comes with extensive and highly informative liner notes adapted from Lloyd Bradley’s comprehensive book Bass Culture. Each track also comes with information on producer and year of release.
Boss Sounds is an excellent overview of the four main eras of Jamaican spanning three decades, and is together with Trojan Records’ five disc anthology Freedom Sounds the best compilation to be put out in 2012 yet.
Now I just wish someone will take interest in Jamaica’s more contemporary sounds and compile a great anthology for the years 1985 to 2012. This period is treated unfavorably compared to the so-called golden era, and a showcase for these years is badly needed.