Five Reggae Artists You Might Like (That Aren't Bob Marley)
You find yourself at a party, discussing music with a few people, and you let it slip that you like reggae music. The host's girlfriend happens to overhear.
"You like reggae?! I LOVE reggae," she exclaims, and off to the sound system she skips.
You wait for it. You know it's going to happen. Sure enough, Bob Marley's Legend is switched on, most likely track 3 ("Could You Be Loved") or track 4 ("Three Little Birds").
You smile and nod, realizing at least it's better than the Katy Perry, Psy, or whatever else that was just on the speakers.
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This isn't a knock against Bob Marley & The Wailers or Legend; I happen to have Legend as well as a few other Marley albums. I think he was an amazing talent, an amazing individual, and I thoroughly enjoy listening to Marley. I particularly like listening to Live!, Catch a Fire, and Uprising over Legend, but hey, that's just me.
Saying you love reggae music but only having select tracks of Legend in your music library is like saying you love sushi, but only order the chicken teriyaki roll.
You're missing a whole bunch o' awesome doing that. In both cases.
So I'll help you out a bit; below are my five reggae artists (and a few of their albums) to ease you off of Legend and into a new realm of groovy beats.
1. Peter Tosh
Legalize It is his most popular album, followed by Equal Rights. Another option is Live & Dangerous, or you can get a taste of almost everything from The Best of Peter Tosh.
2. Black Uhuru
Their Red album has been one of my most frequently listened to albums in the past few months, but I haven't dived into any of their other albums...yet. Bear with me.
London-based Aswad have busted out over 20 albums since the mid-seventies. Albums to pick from are their self-titled Aswad or Live & Direct; personally I went with Aswad's The Complete BBC Sessions double album set; I couldn't resist a good deal.
4. Gregory Isaacs
More "make out" reggae than "party reggae," Gregory Isaacs pioneered the lovers rock sub-genre of reggae. Unbelievably, he has over 500 albums released in his name. So where to start? Try Night Nurse or one of the many compilations, such as Best of Gregory Isaacs or The Millennium Collection.
5. Burning Spear
Winston Rodney, aka Burning Spear, first arrived on the roots reggae scene in 1969 and continues to perform and release albums to this day. With over 30 albums released, there's lots to pick from. Get started with the Marcus Garvey / Garvey's Ghost double album, Jah Kingdom or Resistance, or dive in with a compilation album such as Burning Spear: Gold.
King Tubby & Soul Syndicate
I debated including, and decided not to include, King Tubby & Soul Syndicate in the list of five. For one, they cross the boundary from roots reggae to dub. Secondly, this was (to my knowledge) their only collaboration. King Tubby was a pioneering sound engineer with his name on, in my estimates, three million reggae albums; if you like what King Tubby does with Soul Syndicate in Freedom Sounds In Dub, it won't be hard to find more of his work. I really like Freedom Sounds in Dub, and you might, too.
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Disclosure #1a: I am not a reggae guru, nor do I claim to be. I like listening to reggae music, but I have never desired to dive into the history or the backstories and connections that exist within the genre.
Disclosure #1b: Nowhere in this list do I say "Top 5" or "the five best" or anything of that sort; it is simply "five," as in "Five Artists That Aren't Bob Marley That You Could Possibly Listen To And Like Instead Of Listening to Bob Marley." Also, as I said above, this is not to shit on Bob Marley or to say these artists are better than Bob Marley. They're just different.
Disclosure #2: I prefer roots reggae to the other sub-genres of reggae, as this list will demonstrate. Perhaps exposing Legend-only reggae listeners to other roots reggae artists might make it a little easier to broaden their music libraries.
Disclosure #3: I will state again, for the record: I am a non-pot-smoking reggae fan. It's true: we do exist. Also, for the record: I don't give a rat's ass if you smoke pot or not...just don't do it on my damn job site.
Disclosure #4: All of the album links go to Amazon.com, of which I am an affiliate. In plain words: you click on the Album link, go to Amazon.com, and if you buy the album, I get a commission of 4% (I think...).