Tuesday, 3 November 2009


I'm not a huge reggae fan, I'm not even a big one, but I do like the occasional fix. Just now and again, you understand. Truth be told, I prefer the ska rhythm, but I like reggae enough to buy a compilation now and again and I've ended up with a small but varied collection of ska and reggae, and pretty much all from the Trojan label. In fact if I've any on any other label I'd be surprised.

This collection dates from the second half of 1968. The original version was a cheapo collection of 12 singles released during that period and proved so popular they released a total of vinyl albums in the series.  I missed it at the time preferring samples such as The Rock Machine Turns You On and probably wouldn't have noticed it if it had been thrust in front of my face. Rock, at the time, was God. 

It's since been recycled in various versions until this one which amps up the number of tracks to 48 by including a load of B-sides and other singles from the same period. The original (and this extended edition is no different in tone) was a determinedly popularist piece aimed at the white audience whose knowledge of Jamaican music was probably restricted to Millie's My Boy Lollipop and, as such, contains a fair quota of highly accessible covers. Try these: Kansas City, Spanish Harlem, Ob-la-di Ob-la-da (the only version of this horrendous song I've not hated, up to and  including the Beatles original -hi, Ian P!), Angel of the Morning, Soul Limbo, (Booker T & the MGs, thankyouverrymuch), Jerry Goldsmith's In Like Flint  (hi Barry!), and a load more including bizarrely I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman.

Curiously, most of the artists are people I've never heard of, though this is no reflection of the quality of the music. Indeed the most famous names are the producers like Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, and Byron Lee (producing himself with the Dragonaires). 

This is very lightweight early reggae and all the better for it. Great fun, and rounded off with an informative booklet. There's another deluxe volume which is going on my Amazon wish list for another time.

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