When I was growing up in the early seventies like all the other boys in my all boys school I was a rock music fan who hated reggae. Like Motown it was unfashionable. Well I've since grown to like Motown, but it was another few years before I gave reggae a fair hearing. Then it was through the Clash's version of Police and Thieves and the inevitable Bob Marley. I began listening to The Specials and early Madness again, not having given these bands a fair hearing in their heyday. I then began to wonder what the originals would be like. Well they're all here on this wonderful Trojan compilation. Rudy, A Message To You, Monkey Man, Guns Of Navarone, all covered by The Specials, plus Al Capone which mutated into their Gangsters. There is also Madness covered by Madness, The Tide Is High covered by Blondie, Love Of The Common People covered by Paul Young and many more. Some of them I remember as a kid when they were UK hits in their own right Desmond Dekker, Dave and Ansel Collins, Greyhound, The Pioneers, Bob and Marica, etc. Most of these fifty songs are eminently listenable and will really bring back the memories. There are a handful of absolute classics too. Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross, Lord Creator's Kingston Town (heard the song before, but never heard of the artist), Horace Faith's Black Pearl and Junior Murvin's aforementioned Police and Thieves to name but four. There are also inevitably a few clunkers - Skanga by Rupie Edwards being perhaps the worst and I've always found My Boy Lollipop by Millie (perhaps one of the most famous tracks on here) quite irritating. I was also interested to hear Big Seven by Judge Dread as all his hits were banned from the radio when I was a kid. Unfortunately, on the evidence of this one I think the radio authorities were right to ban it, not because it's rude but simply because it isn't very good. However, I would conclude that this album is well worth getting if you're at all interested in popular music, not just reggae. With fifty songs, and many of them classics it is excellent value.
What a brilliant compilation this really is. Whether you enjoy reggae or not, there is something there for everyone. It is sure to bring back memories of dancing the night away with your uncle at your cousins wedding, or sitting in the park with your mates playing Red Red Wine on your portable tape deck as loudly as you could on warm summer afternoon. Or running to turn the sound down on you record player so your parents didn't catch the lyrics to Big 7. Go On ! Treat yourself. Get your feet tapping, head nodding in time to the music, and fill up those old brain cells with musical memories.
Like some other reviewers, I came late to ska and reggae, but now listen to it more than anything else probably. Like a lot of compilations, and Trojan compilations in particular, this is probably for the "learner" rather than someone longer in the tooth. Anyone with a history, and a large collection will probably find nothing new here. That's no criticism though. Newbies need collections like this to dip their toes into the water, and they are not really made with the afficiendo in mind. This is a double CD, stuffed full of 50 absolute stone solid classics. It includes a lot of tracks that you know and love, some you didn't know that you knew, but you do and love them too, and also some of the original source songs of some much more famous cover versions over the years. The Trojan archives are pure solid gold, and it's no surprise that their collections perhaps repeat themselves over time, as people still want to listen to this stuff. I'd much rather that this material gets regular airings to remind people how bloody brilliant it is, and probably give the artists concerned some sort of royalty income that they were undoubtedly denied in the past and shadier days of the reggae music industry. Joy in a box.
This is definitely reggae music at it's most seductive. I f it wasn't forthe artists featured here neither Shaggy nor UB40 would have a career!Reggae how it should be done; no frills, no over production, just a raw,fresh sound to the tracks that adds to their timeless appeal(theinstrumentals are particularly strong Guns of Navarone and ElizabethanReggae being two of my personal favourites) Great top class listening.
I've never been a huge reggae fan, but I do enjoy some of it, and this double-CD provides a great selection of reggae from the sixties and seventies, the period I like best. This set includes many songs that were big pop hits, including My boy lollipop (Millie), 007 Shanty town, Israelites, You can get it if you really want (all Desmond Dekker), Hold me tight (Johnny Nash), Wonderful world beautiful people (Jimmy Cliff), Young gifted and black (Bob and Marcia), Everything I own (Ken Boothe's cover of the Bread classic), Help me make it through the night (John Holt's cover of the country classic), Side show (Barry Biggs) and Uptown top ranking (Althia and Donna). The most famous reggae singer of them all, Bob Marley, is represented by Sun is shining. It's not his most famous song, but if this is your first reggae album, a Bob Marley collection should be your second. Several songs here were unsuccessful for the original artists, but were later made famous by others, including Rivers of Babylon (The Melodians, a number one hit for Boney M) and The tide is high (The Paragons, a number one hit for Blondie). Red red wine, written by Neil Diamond, was eventually a number one hit for UB40, who may well have been inspired by the Tony Tribe version included here. Oh Carolina became famous via Shaggy's cover of the song. Whether you just want one reggae album, or you want an introduction to start building a collection, you won't find anything better than this fascinating collection.