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From My Archives: “This is Reggae Music”

January 22, 2019

A recent tweet from the splendid music blogger Every Record Tells A Story  got me thinking about an LP I have that I have not listened to for a while — “This is Reggae Music”.  ERTAS had just bought a copy of the album. I am not sure which version but the cover was green, which Discogs tells me was a double, produced in 1976 or 1978, and probably released by Island.

My copy has a yellow cover, a single disc and was bought by me in 1975 when I was doing my undergraduate degree at university (yes, I am that old). It was released by Trojan, the British reggae, rocksteady and dub pioneers that started bringing the West Indian sound to the UK in 1968.

I mention this not out of any kind of competition (I am not that kind of collector and zzthisisreggaemusicye_101bwould lose overall to ERTAS if I was), but because it puts my version of this various artists classic into a historical context. It was released to get the middle-class long-haired boys and hippie girls of 1975 Britain (prog and glitter rockers in the main) into a genre that had the unfortunate birth pangs of being adopted by skinheads.

Boy, did it work — certainly for me —  which is why a second volume was released. But this single volume was reggae dawn for many.

From the ethereal opening lines of the eponymous first track by Zap Pow — This is reggae music, hear it in the stars — to the thumping protest of The Wailers “Concrete Jungle” — No chains around my feet, but I’m not free — the album still sends me into swaying raptures.

Along the way are a few now well-known artists such as Jimmy Cliff (“Hey, Mr Yesterday”) and The Maytals (“Funky Kingston” and “Louie, Louie”). Among other tracks, there is  a very sexy number from Lorna Bennett (“Breakfast in Bed”) and a Bob Marley-produced number from Owen Gray (“Guava Jelly”).

This compilation really is one for the ages . For reggae fans it is a must; for those not into the genre, here’s your intro. This is reggae music.

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