what non-roots reggae do you enjoy?
June 6, 2006 4:53 PM   Subscribe

I have come to be interested in classic reggae (in a suburban, lame-o, non-stoner fashion). Whose work should I look for? I generally prefer secular (not roots) songs (like most of The Maytals's songs) to religious stuff (like Junior Murvin's). Who else should I look into? Don't be afraid to be obvious, because I've covered about half of the artists that I am familiar with in the above comparison.

The rest of the artists I'm familiar with: Jimmy Cliff (whom I like), Bob Marley (whom I don't), Desmond Dekker (like), Dillinger (like) and Prince Far I (don't).
posted by Mayor Curley to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
buy the Studio One compilations, especially volume one


Burning Spear, esp. 'Marcus Garvey'
Misty in Roots, esp 'Live at the Counter Eurovision'
anything produced by Coxsone Dodd
The Heptones
The Skatalites
Augustus Pablo, esp. King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown
Lee 'Scratch' Perry
The Ethiopians

a lot of this stuff is on the cusp between rude boy/ska and reggae, but that's what you seem to like (eg Toots, Desmond Dekker) and so do I.

I think you will love the Studio One stuff.
posted by unSane at 5:01 PM on June 6, 2006

All of the above. Also - I'm a big fan of Peter Tosh. While he can verge occasionally into the somewhat religious stuff, he's much darker and (to my tastes) more thoughtful than That Other Famous Wailer.
posted by freebird at 5:05 PM on June 6, 2006

I got lots of great suggestions when I asked a similar question, although my answerers didn't distinguish between secular and religious.

Do you like dub? That turned out to be my favorite genre. Dub generally doesn't have much in the way of lyrics, so even if the artist is religious, you can't tell aside from the song titles. My favorite dub artists gleaned from my previous thread turned out to be:
Augustus Pablo (East of the River Nile, King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown)
Lee 'Scratch' Perry (Super Ape)
Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem (In Dub Vol 1.)

I also suggest looking into:
The Congos (Heart of the Congos)
Dr. Alimantado (Best Dressed Chicken in Town)
Jackie Mittoo (Champion in the Arena 1976-1977)

And you'll want to avoid Burning Spear, because he's all religion all the time.
posted by agropyron at 5:05 PM on June 6, 2006

The Trojan Box Sets, while sort of gimmicky, have given me great insights into which strains of reggae I really like. Like agropyron, I'm a dub fan more and more, but sometimes, I put on the Soulful Reggae set that Trojan put out and just lie there and enjoy one great cover of a soul song after another.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 5:15 PM on June 6, 2006

The Congos (Heart of the Congos) - one of my favorite records ever and I'm not a big reggae guy. Beware their other records, some of which are really fucking bad.
Dr. Alimantado (Best Dressed Chicken in Town)

Just heard this:
Gladiators (Trenchtown Warriors)
It's roots, but the harmonies are gorgeous.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:22 PM on June 6, 2006

Mayor, you can find many of the Studio One reissues (which are on the fantastic Soul Jazz label) at Twisted Village in Cambridge.
posted by anathema at 5:31 PM on June 6, 2006

Best answer: Dennis Brown
Barrington Levy
Linton Kwesi Johnson (an atheist dub poet!)
Sugar Minot
Gregory Isaacs
Black Uhuru
Dr. Israel (from Brooklyn, mixes dub, reggae and drums and bass together. Some of his early stuff had a heavy rasta content, but the newer stuff is pretty cool)
Freddie MacGregor
Dry & Heavy (from Japan!)

I love Peter Tosh because he's darker than the Other Famous Wailer! It's like he's Malcolm X and Marley's is MLK.

Compare their versions of "Get Up, Stand Up"

I suggest you listen to Positive Vibrations on KEXP.org on Saturdays...9-12AM PST...Kid Hops covers all genres and eras.
I don't really differentiate between the roots/conscious reggae and the secular, even though I'm agnostic. There's a lot of history in some of those songs however, and if you truly want to understand the mindset there, you might not want to avoid any of the religious content.

Just my 2 cents.
posted by black8 at 6:11 PM on June 6, 2006

Burning Spear certainly is religious, but in a what I think is a good way. He's one of the only religious guys I can listen to.
posted by unSane at 6:12 PM on June 6, 2006

If you're going to allow for some religion in the music, then yeah, I definitely recommend Peter Tosh and Burning Spear.

Hopefully this isn't offensive to any Rastamen reading, but... I find Rastafarianism to be such a ridiculous, obviously made-up religion that I really don't mind listening to an 8-minute song praising Jah and Marcus Garvey. Especially because the music is so good.
posted by agropyron at 6:19 PM on June 6, 2006

I would reccomend.

100% Dynamite,
200% Dynamite,
300% Dynamite,
400% Dynamite,
500% Dynamite,

and finaly

600% Dynamite

Sit back relax and have a riley up time nah.
posted by gergtreble at 6:35 PM on June 6, 2006

I agree Agro...And I have a couple of the Dynamite comps! Good stuff!
posted by black8 at 6:39 PM on June 6, 2006

Another vote for Linton Kwesi, who is marvelous, and another for Eek-a-mouse, who is an acquired taste. Slightly more mainstream are Black Uhuru and Steel Pulse. The Herbivores are good but local to Seattle, and I was recently introduced to Midnite, from Jamaica, who was great. Lucky Dube is another you might try, and finally, really nice and mellow, Ras Michael and the Sons on Negus.
posted by vito90 at 10:12 PM on June 6, 2006

I am not a Bob Marley fan either -- except for his first album, Catch A Fire, which I looove.

Don't write him off until you've heard that one.

And Yellowman! I like "Bad Boy Skanking" (Y'know?) and "Yellow like Cheese."

Check out some ska and rocksteady. Some of the artists above could be called that, but there were many one-hit-wonders also. I'm partial to Phyllis Dillion, particularly "Perfidia" on the Trojan Story (the first CD I ever bought, as it happens)

Scandal Ska is also an excellent compilation.
posted by Methylviolet at 1:11 AM on June 7, 2006

Check out Nasio Fontaine from Dominica especially Reggae Power 1994 ... he might be too roots for you but he played some very up music on this album.
What about Rita Marley? and here's a review page which lists tons of artists.
posted by adamvasco at 3:21 AM on June 7, 2006

U-Roy - Dread Inna Babylon, or any Tapper Zukie might appeal.
posted by bifter at 3:59 AM on June 7, 2006

Here are some more great compilations you can use as a jumping off point:

Duke Reid's Treasure Chest

Rudies All Round

Roots of Reggae Vol. 2

I also really like Prince Buster. Maybe give him a listen.
posted by Otis at 6:12 AM on June 7, 2006

I was recently turned on to The Ethiopians (mentioned earlier), so be sure to check them out.
posted by unixrat at 6:34 AM on June 7, 2006

Steel Pulse's True Democracy is an excellent album. I've had it around for 20 years and I still listen to it all the time. They are religious--one of the catchiest songs on the album is "Chant a Psalm"--but I, who despise all organized religion, have no problem tuning out the meaning of the words and focusing on the melodies and riddims.
posted by scratch at 6:37 AM on June 7, 2006

A lot of these are good ideas, but many of them (Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott e.g.) tend to veer from lover's rock to rasta anthems in a heartbeat, and others (The Congos, Burning Spear) are straight-up lion's-mane Rastas. Jah is love, after all. Then again, much of Rasta music is political at least as much as it is religious (quoting psalms is pretty much endemic to reggae at this point, even in modern dancehall).

If you do want to venture into the sweeter sound, many of the vocal harmony groups from the roots era glance here and then on religion, but like Joseph Gurl pointed out, the sound is amazing. I'd also throw the Mighty Diamonds, Abyssianians, and Wailing Souls into that mix. Oh, and Don Carlos (original singer from Black Uhuru) is a favorite of mine, even though he's solo.

If you're looking for 100% secular chunes (chunes!), you might be better served sticking to the earlier pre-reggae days before the Rastafarian vibe permeated the musical culture in JA. That being said, the Trojan sets have a great few that concentrate on the ska era, and the "Rude Boy" set is about as secular as it gets (lionizing/ruing the exploits of the early badman gangs). All the ska recommendations so far--Heptones, Skatalites, etc--are can't-miss if you like Desmond Dekker and Toots. Also, Ken Boothe, who started out around that time, went on to have a great long career as "the Jamiacan Otis Redding." John Holt would also fall into a a good later romantic singer who wasn't reilgious (even his later stuff like "Police In Helicopter" was political without being religious).

If you like Dillinger, you might also like Dennis Alcapone, a Studio One deejay from the same era. Big Youth, even though he loves him some rasta bredren, doesn't come off as religious/preachy. Another deejay in a similar style as Dillinger, thougha few years later, is Charlie Chaplin. And I know I'm forgetting a ton, but I'm rambling as it is. Enjoy!
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 6:29 PM on June 7, 2006

Easy Star All-Stars' Dub Side of the Moon. Can't wait for Radiodread! featuring:

Airbag: Horace Andy
Paranoid Android: Kirsty Rock
Subterranean Homesick Alien: Junior Jazz
Exit Music (For A Film): Sugar Minott
Let Down: Toots and the Maytals
Karma Police: Citizen Cope
Fitter Happier: Menny More
Electioneering: Morgan Heritage
Climbing Up The Walls: Tamar-Kali
No Surprises: The Meditations
Lucky: Frankie Paul
The Tourist: Israel Vibration
posted by gilgul at 9:04 PM on June 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

So what did you end up liking, Mayor?
posted by agropyron at 8:49 AM on June 23, 2006

Jeez, no followup?
posted by agropyron at 9:51 PM on November 28, 2006

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