Local music blog ‘Blog on the Tracks’ (on www.stuff.co.nz) recently featured a post on the “ten most important” Reggae albums. It was part of a series where blogger Simon Sweetman selects a genre and then proceeds to list the most important albums of said genre. Or the “most important” as they relate to Simon’s journey and life as a music consumer. Not the ten best-sellers or the ten most acclaimed but the ten that have touched on a personal level.
Here’s the list I submitted in response to the blog:
1. Third World – 96 Degrees in the Shade – combines Jamaican rhythms with funk to produce the perfect soundtrack for those long balmy summer nights.
2. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Kaya – won’t be the one for Bob purists but means so much to me on a personal level for reasons perhaps best not gone into here. Contains no filler.
3. Lee Scratch Perry & Dub Syndicate – Time Boom x De Devil Dead – Perry’s second coming masterfully produced by Adrian Sherwood. An important album in the evolution of Dub.
4. Peter Tosh – Equal Rights – Tosh’s most consistent solo effort just shading Legalise It. The title track is one of contemporary music’s all-time greatest protest songs.
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus – prime period Bob. An important statement at a troublesome time for him personally.
6. Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey – Look no further for the true definition of ‘Roots’ in black plastic form.
7. Max Romeo – War Ina Babylon – Perry-produced set that raised the bar for all pretenders.
8. Jimmy Cliff/OST – The Harder They Come – not so much a Cliff solo set as a who’s who of Reggae as it morphed from its Ska and Rocksteady origins. My extended review of this soundtrack made the front page of the popular ‘Rate Your Music’ site … just sayin’.
9. UB40 – Signing Off – before they turned to mush, this Brummie collective had a lot to say. The opening quartet of tracks on this album ensured they said it with plenty of style and substance. The rest ain’t bad either.
( … but ten is obviously all too finite as a number and there really is a batch of other albums that on any other given day I’d probably rate just as highly as some of the above. I’ll doubtlessly be looking to create a more definitive personal list at some point in the future …)