Reggae Golden Jubilee 50th Anniversary Origins of Jamaican Music

Order your copy here:

‘REGGAE GOLDEN JUBILEE: ORIGINS OF JAMAICAN MUSIC, 50TH ANNIVERSARY’ Edward Seaga, who was Jamaica’s prime minister from 1980 to ’89, had a previous career in the 1950s as a producer and record-company owner. Now he is an executive producer and compiler of “Reggae Golden Jubilee,” an extensively annotated 100-song collection that does a thorough job of tracing Jamaican music from the late 1950s into the 2000s. (The golden jubilee refers to 50 years of Jamaican independence.) The music’s history follows a well-known trajectory, from absorption to innovation, as Jamaican musicians first soaked up and imitated the music of their neighbors — American soul and R&B, Caribbean calypso — and then, remarkably, alchemized them into rhythms and ideas that would transform pop worldwide, from the all-conquering reggae beat to the foundations of hip-hop in Jamaican style toasting over a disc jockey’s track. “Reggae Golden Jubilee” includes major figures like Bob Marley (though not his best songs) and Jimmy Cliff, and it comes as close to the present as Sean Paul, Damian Marley and Mavado. But even better is its conscientiousness about gathering songs that represent turning points — like the Folkes Brothers’ “Oh Carolina,” which incorporates Rastafarian drumming; Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop,” which carried the ska beat far beyond Jamaica; and Wayne Smith’s “Under Me Sleng Teng,” which ushered in modern reggae’s electronic era. As the rhythms and productions constantly modernize and spoken words start to displace sung ones, the compilation steers clear of Jamaica’s rudest hits, but through the decades certain themes endure: romance, faith, the struggles of the poor and cultural pride. (VP, four CDs, $59.98) – JON PARELES (NY TImes)