Various Artists

20 Reggae Classics: The Music That Inspired A Generation

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This disc should be prescribed like medicine to everyone who thinks of "Red Red Wine" as a UB40 song. It leads off with Tony Tribe's rock steady version of that number (which was a cover itself -- "Red Red Wine" was actually written by Neil Diamond) along with 19 other ska, reggae and rock steady tunes that have been covered by more recent artists, often with significant commercial success. Did you know that the Specials' "Rudy a Message to You" was originally cut by Dandy Livingstone, or that Paul Young's "Love of the Common People" was an early reggae song by Nicky Thomas, whose version prominently featured a string section? Other tracks are more familiar in their original versions -- Desmond Dekker's "007 (Shanty Town)," the Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon," etc. Every song on this compilation is an essential piece of reggae history. (Trojan went on to release several more volumes in the 20 Reggae Classics series.)

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