Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: Jamaica

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An entry from Putumayo's archives, Putumayo Presents: Jamaica makes a stab at covering the vast majority of the styles of reggae available on the island nation. More specifically, it restricts that coverage to the more classic forms (omitting dancehall, hip-hop, fusion, and generally anything involving gun talk and slackness). Essentially everything happening in the reggae scene after the end of the rocksteady movement and up to the death of Peter Tosh is represented here. The album opens with the title track from the Toots & the Maytals album Reggae Got Soul, infusing a bit of American soul into the reggae base. Culture follows with an exposition on the Rastafarian faith and Jimmy Cliff mixes the political realm with the party realm in "Give the People What They Want." Ska veteran Rico Rodriguez adds in a relatively rare reggae instrumental and Joe Higgs, one-time vocal tutor to Bob Marley, tosses in a basic piece of his repertoire. Polio victims Israel Vibration contribute a number and Ras Michael adds in a piece of reggae with a deep connection to the proper nyahbinghi drumming forms. The Gladiators perform a relatively basic work and early dance reggae is represented by the powerhouse combination of Black Uhuru and Sly & Robbie. Finishing the album are a pair of works from two of the largest innovators from the island: a piece of the earliest dub from Augustus Pablo's first album and a more recent work from Peter Tosh (licensing difficulties prevented the inclusion of a Bob Marley number), post-Wailers. Overall, it's an outstanding effort at including the major forms and styles as well as the proper figures in the scene over the last 40 years or so. Give it a listen as an introductory set of music to the reggae genre as a whole and use it as a stepping stone into deeper exploration of the various artists presented.

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