various artists,
(Putumayo, 2001)

Reggae is a sound that evokes images of sandy beaches, coconut rum, the life of the Rastafarian and a particular plant with a distinctive leaf pattern. Reggae is a style that vocalizes the injustices done to people around the world, a music of protest. Yet the recognizable, infectious beat makes one want to dance and party. The laid-back groove blends African and European musical influences. Reggae is The Music of the Caribbean.

With its compilation disc Jamaica, Putumayo World Music showcases reggae classics from the 1970s through 2001. Many of the names are well known. Peter Tosh, an original Wailer with Bob Marley (perhaps the most famous name in reggae), is represented by "Mystery Babylon." In this song, Peter favors the Africa of his ancestors to the parasitic United "Queen"dom.

Another well-known reggae star is Jimmy Cliff. "Give the People What They Want" is a classic that asserts the rights of the people to decide for themselves what they want and how to live their lives. Black Uhuru is a big reggae group that has been around for a few decades in various incarnations. "Sponji Reggae," released in 1981, continues the almost hypnotic quality of the tunes found on this compilation CD.

Jamaica includes eight other artists and groups: Toots and the Maytals, Culture, Rico, Joe Higgs, Israel Vibration, Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus, the Gladiators and Augustus Pablo. The only thing this compilation is missing is a track from Bob Marley. Unfortunately, according to the liner notes, Putumayo ran into licensing difficulties.

So far, I have listened to several Putumayo compilation CDs incorporating musical styles from around the globe. I get the impression that those responsible for picking out the selections for any particular genre really tend to know what they are doing. Being true to form, Putumayo has created another must-have for your music collection.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 22 September 2001

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