Help me expand my music collection by adding reggae.
May 24, 2011 11:37 AM   Subscribe

What reggae would you recommend to someone who likes it but doesn't have much more than Bob Marley and The Wailers Live! in their collection.

I've got something like 20,000 songs in my music library. Of that, there's 14 that are tagged with Raggae for the genre. (There's some other stuff that's not tagged, but you get the idea.) I like it when I hear it and want to get more, but don't know where to start. New stuff, old stuff, whatever. I'm looking for pointers to get started and I'll refine my search from there.

So, please fire up some suggestions for reggae and help me stir up my music.

(Note: I've seen this post which I'll use as well, but figure it's worth asking the question again.)
posted by StimulatingPixels to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Desmond Dekker and Jimmy Cliff are some easy ones.
posted by ghharr at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2011

Toots and the Maytals!
posted by scody at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

And Dennis Brown
posted by ghharr at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2011

Wailers Live was my first Reggae record.

Three great anthologies:

20 Reggae Classics get the orginal versions of a bunch of songs that were redone in the 2-Tone/New Wave era.

Arkology is a great overview of Lee Perry and his many collaborators in the 70s, dedicating nearly a whole disk variations on "Police & Thieves," illustrating the rise of dub and remix culture

The 100% Dynamite series will dig you deeper and give you plenty of notes to guide you. Soul Jazz anthologies are great for all sorts of riddim music.
posted by bendybendy at 11:48 AM on May 24, 2011

Gregory Issacs

I also highly, highly recommend the 'History of Jamaican Music' 4-disc set (if you can find it) - it's a great intro to decades of music from the 60s thru the 90s

If you're into modern ragga/dancehall, check out Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla.
posted by gnutron at 11:51 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite] can provide you all kinds of context and extra suggestions for whatever specific acts people recommend.

Also, you can't go wrong by starting with the "Harder They Come" Soundtrack.
posted by kimota at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2011

Sorry, the box set is "Tougher than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music"
posted by gnutron at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd recommend streaming KEXP's Positive Vibrations as a way to explore reggae.
posted by rube goldberg at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I will strongly encourage you to avoid Vybz Kartel.
posted by The Giant Squid at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2011

Peter Tosh is reggae royalty. Try the album Legalize It [listen to samples at link]. The title track on there is pretty well known but my favorite is Burial.

If you're interested in a predecessor of reggae, check out some pleasant ska by Lord Tanamo and the Skatalites. This album, In The Mood For Ska, has lots of nice stuff. My favorite is I'm in the Mood for Ska, which is really just a ska version of I'm in the Mood for Love, i.e., the lyrics are not actually I'm in the mood for ska. Very smiley happy relaxy.
posted by kookoobirdz at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Black Uhuru, particular their album Sensimilla.
posted by essexjan at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2011

Trojan has a lot of box sets that are pretty good for the most part, in a bunch of different types, moods, sub-genres, etc of reggae.

(FYI, the one called "Skinhead Reggae" has nothing to do with white supremacy, so don't be alarmed. Skinheads were originally just working class youths, of various ethnicities, who listened to Reggae, wore certain styles, and such. Years later a racist skinhead subculture emerged, but there are still non-racist and anti-racist skinheads.)
posted by funnyinternetmemereference at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2011

I'd recommend watching the BBC documentary "Reggae.The Story Of Jamaican Music." A pretty good over view.
posted by jade east at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Peter Tosh for sure.
Also Toots are awesome.
I've always loved ska as well so if you want any recs mefi mail me.
posted by handbanana at 12:33 PM on May 24, 2011

Steel Pulse: Earth Crisis
posted by joyride at 12:47 PM on May 24, 2011

The Congos. Play him Fisherman off of Heart of the Congos.
posted by krilli at 12:56 PM on May 24, 2011

Seconding Gregory Isaacs.

Definitely try some proper old Jamaican Ska! The Trojan Ska Boxset is a very good collection.

Ska's got a cheerful liveliness, with humour, double-entendres, men doing bad impressions of women singing, puns, that sort of thing. A lot of Reggae can be a bit too soulful and serious for me, but I can listen to Ska all day.

Then there's Dub - but now I'm recommending stuff that's a bit like Reggae but not actually Reggae, and the only Dub musician I can think of off the top of my head is King Tubby. Try some King Tubby.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2011

Reggae's a pretty wide genre with lots of subtypes, so here goes on some of the stuff out of the mainstream like Marley and Tosh. I throw in some mento like the Jolly Boys. DJ Chrissy Murderbot did some mixtapes for his year of mixtapes, you might want to check out his Steppas Reggae, digi-dancehall, or tin-pan. He does a nice job of explaining the style too. I'd also suggest some Skatalites for some Ska.
Also, the live stuff tends to be orders of magnitude better than the studio. I like Marley's Pittsburgh and Japan, for example.
And don't forget the younger generation of Marleys, Damian Marley and Ziggy Marley.
posted by Runes at 1:25 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Quick comment: Lots of this stuff is available on CD but not MP3. Why oh, why won't they sell it to me in the format that I want instead of making me buy it on a disk and then rip it...

Peter Tosh is downloading right now. Thanks kookoobirdz. I've heard the title track a ton of times, but don't think I ever figure out who sang it. (Sad, I know.)

rube goldberg: I love the KEXP Song of the Day Pod cast. Looking forward to checkout out Positive Vibrations too. (It's not playing for me at the moment, but hopefully that'll correct itself.

Thanks to everyone for the answers so far.
posted by StimulatingPixels at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2011


On MP3 at Amazon
posted by TedW at 1:40 PM on May 24, 2011

Seconding The Harder They Come soundtrack - great album and great introduction. Also the Rockers soundtrack is good. If you like Dub / instrumental reggae, try King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown. Or Prince Far I & The Arabs - Cry Tuff Dub Encounter (Chapter One) and similar. Check out Pressure Sounds. Oh yeah, Barrington Levy.
posted by iotic at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2011

Also wanted to add:

Burning Spear

Damian Marley 'Welcome to Jamrock" is an excellent album.
posted by gnutron at 2:23 PM on May 24, 2011

And Supercat 'Don Dada' is essential as well.
posted by gnutron at 2:25 PM on May 24, 2011

Definitely Burning Spear, particularly 'Marcus Garvey'.
posted by joannemullen at 2:31 PM on May 24, 2011

I may be revealing my great ignorance on good reggae, but I've found the sound track to the Jimmy Cliff movieThe Harder They Come to be an excellent compilation. Also, the movie is unexpectedly quite good.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:35 PM on May 24, 2011

The Congos, Max Romeo & The Upsetters, the Heptones - pretty much everyone associated with Lee Perry is fantastic.
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick aside.

These are the geners for a few albums according to Amazon:

King Yelloman by Yelloman - Pop
Legalize It by Peter Tosh - International
In The Beginning by Bob Marley - International

Seriously, do they not label anything as reggae?

posted by StimulatingPixels at 2:45 PM on May 24, 2011

I recommend The Aggrolites as a great newer reggae band.
posted by xtine at 3:00 PM on May 24, 2011

The sound was music mellow steady flow... Linton Kwesi Johnson
posted by Tom-B at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2011

No mention of Jah Cure?
posted by fire&wings at 5:03 PM on May 24, 2011

posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:28 PM on May 24, 2011

The Abyssinians
posted by alfanut at 7:09 PM on May 24, 2011

I admittedly know very little about reggae and its influences, but one song that I like is Matumbi's cover of Brother Louie.
posted by ajarbaday at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2011

Mikey Mikey Mikey Dread!
Quick background: radio trailblazer, legendary reggae/dub singer/producer/DJ, savvy businessman, Clash producer, "renaissance man of reggae."

Many MP3s via Amazon.
posted by Signed Sealed Delivered at 7:57 PM on May 24, 2011

I was always liked Pato Banton.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:28 PM on May 24, 2011

John Holt is great.
posted by dobbs at 8:40 PM on May 24, 2011

Seconding King Tubby.
posted by troywestfield at 5:49 AM on May 25, 2011

Mighty Diamonds - Right Time

There's some fantastic singing on this album.
posted by Neilopolis at 10:06 AM on May 25, 2011

Love Joys - Lovers Rock

And to that fact, the entire Wackies Catalog
Founded in the 1970s by Lloyd Barnes, as the Wackie's House Of Music based on White Plains Road in New York, the name Wackies also include a record shop and a studio. It is considered by some to be the first significant reggae studio and label in the United States.
Sly & Robbie - Disco Dub

If you like keyboard/piano, Jackie Mittoo
posted by wcfields at 12:12 PM on May 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. This has been great. I'll dig more into all this over the three day weekend. Makes the outlook even better.

posted by StimulatingPixels at 1:17 PM on May 25, 2011

Joe Gibbs.
posted by box at 4:43 PM on May 25, 2011

If they like Bob Marley they would like Burning Spears, Horace Andy, Lee Scratch Perry, The Congos, The Abyssians, The Upsetters and Prince Buster.

Look out for records produced at Studio One, seems to produce the best song of it's time.
posted by giftguru at 8:52 AM on September 26, 2011

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