In October 2018 (which shocked me, cos I only thought it was around 6 months ago) I wrote a post titled I Don’t Like Reggae, as I had tried listening to bits and pieces over the years, but it never really grabbed my attention. Like other genres that have become firm favourites over the past few years (rap, grime, drum and bass, dubstep), just listening to the odd track here and there made it all sound a little samey, which is always a great thing to say to get people offended and start recommending great music to you! So I wrote the post, basically to ask for a way in, as I was sure I’d become a fan if I persevered, and I wasn’t disappointed. There were loads of albums/artists recommended and I found that i pretty much liked it all.
So I’m pleased to say that, 19 months later I am properly converted and have amassed a nice little reggae/dub collection, many of which were the albums recommended. I’ve even added a couple of UB40 albums to my collection (I would have referred anyone who suggested that would ever happen for psychiatric therapy a couple of years ago!). I had liked Food For Thought when it first came out, but what came after really put me off, particularly Red Red Wine, which makes up the holy trinity of my most detested singles, along with Shout by Lulu and Walking On Sunshine.
But the ones I like the most include War Ina Babylon by Max Romeo and the Upsetters, Overstanding by Alpha & Omega (in fact, I really like most of their albums and consider them my favourite new find of the year), Marcus Garvey by Burning Spear, Live At The Counter Eurovision by Misty In Roots (I already had a few tracks by them), Equal Rights by Peter Tosh, Forces Of Victory and Bass Culture by Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sly & Robbie’s A Dub Experience – Reggae Greats, Wolf & Leopards by Dennis Brown, It’s Growing by Garnett Silk, Point of View by Matumbi and I absolutely love Deadbeat and Paul St Hilaire’s Infinity Dub Sessions and Dubkasm’s Rastrumentals. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and I’m sure I’ve missed out loads more of my favourites.
And I’ve decided I was totally wrong about Bob Marley. Exodus is well known for a reason, Catch a Fire and @twang’s suggestion, Uprising, are other favourites and the “everything’s gonna be alright” bit from No Woman, No Cry (which had previously gone in one ear and out the other) is now one of my favourite bits of any track, ever, like the “one, two, three, four” in Born To Run, the “You! You! You!” bit in Marc Almond and Gene Pitney’s Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” and the two guitar solos in Comfortably Numb.
The Frontline, Trojan and Island Dub CD collections have also been a cheap way of acquiring loads of great new tracks. 1000 Volts of Holt by John Holt is far better than it sounded when I read about it. I can’t help liking it. And the daughter of the Pistols’ Paul Cook, Hollie Cook, has made three fab pop reggae albums. And loads of bits jumped out at me when listening to all these albums that I knew from records I already know and love, from Horace Andy’s voice (Massive Attack) to a Max Romeo track (The Prodigy).
I know I’ve missed loads more out that I really like, as there were loads of great recommendations that were great starting points, and one or two kind folk also sent some stuff my way. So thanks again to everybody who pointed me in the right direction.
I don’t think there are any other genres that are under-represented in my collection that I really want to explore further (opera, cheesy Europop and the various offshoots of heavy metal/hard rock are holes that I am happy to leave unfilled), but over the past few years I’ve had a lot of help in meandering my way through drum and bass, dubstep, rap, house and now reggae, so is anyone else thinking of diving into a genre they are largely unfamiliar with? There’s no better place than here to ask for help.