Though its subject matter is considerably more cheerful, Jamaican mento is roughly analogous to American country blues. Performed on whatever (mostly acoustic) instruments came to hand, the rough back-country music was less sophisticated than calypso, and predated ska and bluebeat by a couple of decades. Demonstrating the genre's vitality, this classic compilation features a variety of melodies, titles, phrases, and even songs that figure throughout Jamaican musical history. Lord Fly's medley of "Linsted Market," "Hold Im Joe," and others, will be familiar to lovers of Caribbean folk music, while the lyrics to Lord Tickler's "Green Guava" predate Desmond Dekker's late-1960s reggae classic, "It Mek." Though the sound is mostly primitive, the performances are heartfelt, natural, and infectiously exuberant; here are the early roots of reggae, dancehall, and reggaeton.
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