International Reggae Day
July 1 marks another year of celebration as reggae fans gather worldwide in honor of commemorating this influential Jamaican music genre. Held in Kingston, Jamaica, artists, locals, and foreigners gather together surrounded by non-stop music and dancing, food, and entertainment. This year you can get involved virtually and learn more about the history and genre of reggae, visit www.ireggaeday.com.
Although there are many inspiring reggae legends to be recognized, here is a list of a few popular and memorable icons that continue to make their way into the vinyl collections and playlists of music lovers around the globe.
Bob Marley and the Wailers – “Legend”
If you are looking to dive right into the greatest hits collection of reggae music’s most influential and widely recognized music group of all time, this album will not disappoint you. Currently ranked the best-selling reggae album with over 25 million copies sold globally, this must-have addition can be found in many vinyl enthusiasts’ collections.
Peter Tosh – “Legalize It”
Tosh was very passionate about two things – humanitarian causes and cannabis legalization for medical use. This debut album was Tosh’s first solo album after leaving Bob Marley and the Wailers, acting as a catalyst for generations to fight for equal rights and unity.
Bunny Wailer – “Blackheart Man”
After leaving Bob Marley and the Wailers music group, Wailer wasted no time in releasing his own solo debut album, which went on the become one of the most extraordinary albums in reggae history. Based on a childhood fable of a man who would take the heart of every person he meets, this album takes a deep spiritual and cultural dive in exploring the complex emotions and experiences of Wailer’s life. The superb lyrics and musical commitment throughout the entire album require attentive listening and attention to detail to be fully appreciated.
Toots and the Maytals – “Funky Kingston”
This album is one of the most widely recognized introspective looks into Jamaica’s working-class hardships. It uniquely takes an uplifting point of view to convey the difficult emotions and oppression being faced living in the country, making it suitable as a summer reggae music choice. This album is very popular for beginners wishing to explore the reggae genre.
Jimmy Cliff – “The Harder They Come”
When Cliff was scouted to write the soundtrack and star the lead role for the film ‘The Harder They Come’, he couldn’t refuse the opportunity. This classic film soundtrack continues to make its way into the hands of vinyl collectors, and ultimately put the reggae genre on the pop culture radar internationally.
Burning Spear – “Marcus Garvey”
Named after the Jamaican National Hero and Rastafari movement prophet, Marcus Garvey, this album is responsible for encouraging generations of Rastafari roots movements across the globe. With a strong focus on Rasta freedom and resistance to government oppression, these memorable lyrics continue to put this album at the top of must-listen reggae albums.
Desmond Dekker – “The Israelites”
Reaching the top of charts in numerous countries in 1969, this album is best described as a “timeless masterpiece”.
Lee “Scratch” Perry and The Upsetters – “Super Ape”
This album takes a deep plunge into the psychedelic side of reggae, and is known to be a rare masterpiece that embraces your ears rather than demanding attention. Perry’s mystical spirituality shines through as the swirling mess and roll-offs drift your state of mind to a different place. If you’re looking for a different reggae experience, give this album a listen.
The Congos – “Heart of the Congos”
This reggae vocal trio, best known for their multi-layered harmonies and guest backing vocalists, released this foundational reggae album under Lee “Scratch” Perry productions. This album is described as a straight-up “vibe” filled with peaceful instrumentals and vocals, bringing a whole new appreciation to the reggae genre.
Lee “Scratch” Perry – “Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Corn Bread”
Perry was a well-known Jamaican record producer and singer, distinctly known for his intricate role in helping to reshape the reggae music genre. Highlighted for his experimental yet inspiring rhythms, this album is described as a mix of both funky and crazed, without feeling unfocused.
Gregory Isaacs – “Night Nurse”
Described as one of the “most exquisite vocalists in reggae”, this album does not shy away from taking the traditional roots reggae off-course. Both romantic with a hint of rock, this album is a great addition to any vinyl collection.
UB40 – “Signing Off”
This particular album sums up a lot of political and commercial darkness that occurred in the 80’s. It didn’t take long for it to become a global success, particularly due to its relatable socialist views and reggae-inspired sound that set it apart from other pop-punk albums of that era.
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