Various Artists

The Reggae Box

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AllMusic Review by

It's hard not to think that Hip-O's The Reggae Box will be the definitive word on the genre, not just because it spans four discs, but because Hip-O has open access to the Island vaults, and Island is to reggae as Sun is to rockabilly, meaning it's the defining force and leading light. With that as a base and with cross-licensing as a secret weapon, this could have been a stunner, but instead it just is a very good history that tends to lean toward the contemporary instead of the classic. At first, this doesn't seem to be a problem, particularly because the first disc runs through pre-reggae and early-reggae classics at an engaging clip, something that continues through the second disc. Then, things begin to bog down with good, but not classic songs, and it becomes easy to notice that some big, big songs by the likes of Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Peter Tosh are missing, among many others. What here is hardly bad -- and as a rough history, it's pretty terrific -- but it's hard not to be slightly disappointed that it isn't definitive, given its ambitions and possibilities, especially when compared to the tremendous 1992 set The Story of Jamaican Music: Tougher Than Tough. Still, this is a good, even educational listen, and few sets come as close as this to being truly comprehensive. Still, it's not as comprehensive as it could have been, and it's hard not to wish that it was more sweeping than it is.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Derrick Morgan 02:51
2 Millie Small 02:01 Amazon
3 Baba Brooks 02:07
4
Count Ossie 02:43
5 The Maytals 02:49 Amazon
6 Justin Hinds 02:50 Amazon
7 Don Drummond 03:13
8 Prince Buster 03:22
9 The Skatalites 02:54
10 The Paragons 02:44
11 Hopeton Lewis 02:49
12 The Jamaicans 03:19
13 Derrick Morgan 02:26
14 The Techniques 03:31
15 The Pioneers 02:45
16 Desmond Dekker & the Aces 02:35
17 Toots & the Maytals 03:12 Amazon
18 The Ethiopians 02:24
19 The Uniques 02:38
20 The Melodians 04:16 Amazon
21 Dave & Ansel Collins 02:50
22 Ken Boothe 03:44
23 Jimmy Cliff 03:07 Amazon
24 Techniques All Stars 02:58
25 The Abyssinians 03:39

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Chaka Demus & Pliers 04:04
2 Chevelle Franklin / Shabba Ranks 05:40
3 Mad Cobra 04:01
4 Chevelle Franklyn / Beenie Man 04:34
5 Bounty Killer 03:30
6 Capleton 03:59
7 Luciano 03:59 Amazon
8 Buju Banton 04:34
9 Anthony B 03:52
10
Starkey Banton 04:10
11 Luciano / Cocoa Tea 03:56
12 Dr. Israel 04:04
13 Tony Rebel 03:37
14 Morgan Heritage 03:45
15 Everton Blender 03:47
16 Buju Banton / Ky-Mani / Stone Love / Beenie Man / Mr. Vegas 03:46
17 Bushman 03:50
18 Flourgon / Beres Hammond 03:47
19 Sizzla 04:04
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