Reggae music’s basslines often take center stage compared to rock’s more standard-issue bass lines; Black Uhuru’s track “Omega Ray” serves as an outstanding example.
Reggae music can be seen both as political protest and joyful celebration, with Toots and the Maytals celebrating ordinary joys with such exuberant enthusiasm that it’s impossible to listen without smiling.
Marcia Griffiths is widely revered as Jamaica’s Queen or Empress of Reggae music. She has made waves with solo recordings for many prominent producers as well as touring internationally with Bob Marley’s I-Threes vocal group. Griffiths’ strong yet smooth voice and captivating live performances make her one of their most loved figures.
Griffiths began her music industry career in 1964 by performing with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires band. Shortly afterwards she started recording at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label and produced her first hit rocksteady tune Feel Like Jumping for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label. Griffiths enjoyed continued success through singles such as Melody Life and Truly before teaming up with Bob Andy of Paragons on various duet recordings – eventually going on to achieve global fame through their 1970 interpretation of Nina Simone’s Young Gifted and Black which they recorded with Bob Andy from Paragons for Coxsone Dodd Studio One release & releases!
Griffiths continued her success throughout the 1970s and 80s, earning a UK number one hit with her version of Bunny Wailer’s Woman A Come. Griffiths also released several uptempo dance tracks that helped establish her in the US market – most notably her 1982 hit Electric Boogie which became an instantaneous success both domestically and nationally due to the accompanying Electric Slide dance step that became a new dance craze craze!
Marcia Griffiths still performs and records today, most recently with Timeless: an anthology featuring 38 songs culled from her extensive catalog. A year earlier, she released Marcia Griffiths & Friends which featured cover versions by artists associated with Jamaica’s Studio One studio/label.
Marcia Griffiths is currently touring in both England and America, singing with some of her old partners as well as working on new projects – one such collaboration being “Love Is Automatic”, which has topped charts both places.
Champion Lover, a Canadian four-piece that plays loud, scrappy noise punk with plenty of passion, are an exciting new band to listen to. Their debut self-titled LP begins strong with an aggressive and purposeful drumline setting the scene for gritty punk vocals and screechy guitar riffs that create the right atmosphere. Influences for Champion Lover come from Sonic Youth, Motorhead and Wire but their music instead acts more as an unbridled assault that levels everything it touches.
The bass struggled to return into its speakers, thrashing about like an angry Jehovah Witness who discovered an illegal activity going down on their doorstep. While its punk aesthetic may have been toned down on tracks like ‘Read My Mind’ and ‘Shooter’, its raw energy was unquestionable on ‘Just Hollow’ which wants nothing but to rut with you like an over-sexed uncle at a wedding disco.
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Toots and the Maytals
Frederick “Toots” Hibbert led one of the most beloved groups that bridged ska, rocksteady and reggae with American R&B music. His raspy but beautifully supple voice brought back memories of legends such as Sam Cooke and Ray Charles as well as modern performers like Otis Redding. Best known for countless versions of Louie Louie but this particular rendition stands out with its choppy rhythm section, warm harmonies and Jamaican island sway; this version exposes this intricate musical craft that existed prior to more mainstream forms taking over reggae’s foundational elements.
Toots and the Maytals began as vocal group, but once given the opportunity to record in Studio One with producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd they soon added horns, bass, keyboards, guitars, and more for an enhanced sound that quickly made them the top band in Jamaica. Their 1970 singles “Do the Reggay,” “54-46 Was My Number,” and “Monkey Man” introduced reggae music worldwide and soon bands like The Specials and Clash started covering their tunes!
Reggae music is known for its intricate drumming and percussion, yet can also be deeply sensual, overflowing with carnal desire. Champion Lover by Marcia Griffiths serves as a prime example; its sensuous vocals and sensual lyrics exude female desire while its relaxed music perfectly compliments this theme.
Toots and the Maytals’ songs of reggae may be popular today, but its history can’t be forgotten: Reggae music originally emerged as an anticolonial movement against colonialism in Third World countries like Africa. Michael Manley famously expressed support for liberation movements like Democratic Socialism through his songs that featured reggae elements – something too often forgotten in today’s pop music landscape.
Reggae music can have an intoxicating effect, whether through Glasgow’s passionate and unbridled yearning for her beloved or Griffiths’ exuberant celebration of her home culture. Though hard to express in words, those who explore reggae will find that its beauty transforms their lives. Find some Jamaican-influenced tunes on Wynk Music today and start your exploration into its beautiful genre!
Winston Rodney OD, more widely known by his stage name Burning Spear, was one of Jamaican roots music’s most captivating artists. Part Rastafarian preacher and part Black history professor, Rodney used music to illuminate both aspects of his faith while sharing hope for its future. As one of Jamaica’s horn-drenched musicians – with whom Rodney performed live dub versioning live and subdued lighting from within his audience – Rodney entertained audiences around the globe for half a century, using subdued lighting as he spoke of a new world that awaited ahead for those listening closely enough.
Rodney returned home to St Ann disillusioned from Studio One; his debut had been both critical and commercial failure, with its number-one producer taking offense at Rodney by remixing his music for white consumption. Following a brief hiatus from recording, Rodney met Lawrence Lindo aka Jack Ruby at an open mic session, with whom they recorded new album.
Marcus Garvey became an instant classic, marking a landmark album for their mid-1970s output and elevating them alongside Bob Marley as one of reggae’s foremost voices. Instead of railing against Babylonia as a source of spiritual salvation through Rastafari, however, these songs looked up towards African culture for spiritual salvation instead, warning against mental subjugation that could prove just as harmful.
Rodney made significant alterations to many of the songs first recorded at Studio One for 1978’s Social Living album, yet retained his Black Disciples band as backing musicians and brought Karl Pitterson as co-producer and Karl Patterson as engineer – creating an album which combined jazzy stretches, deep roots, and anthemic reggae; garnering international acclaim and solidifying Rodney as one of roots reggae’s premier artists.
As Farover and Resistance was released by Heartbeat/Rounder in 1992, Rodney had made his transition away from Island Records to Heartbeat/Rounder, having already released Jah Kingdom. This album showcases both jazzy phrasing and Addis Ababa-influenced horn phasing while remaining true to Spear’s trademark vocal style, reinforcing his desire to always do what was right even when that meant forgoing lucrative opportunities.