Music Monday: Reggae

by Scott Lydon

Happy Music Monday! Summer's wrapping down, so we're getting in on the island music while we can. Today, in honor of Jamaican Independence Day, we're taking a look at some classic reggae music! It's a mix full of fun and politics that sounds so good in the sunshine. And here's something to drive a few people crazy: without these reggae pioneers, dubstep simply would not exist. Chilling, huh, kids? Check out Scott's first choice to start us off:

Desmond Dekker - Honor Your Mother And Father


I'll admit right off the bat that for this mix I'm picking reggae songs that sound good. Yes, absolutely, something like Police In Helicopter carries much more meaning for Jamaica's political history, so I greatly encourage you to run out and read more about that on your own! And while you're doing that, the warm and loving tones of Desmond Dekker will keep you company. As an early 60s star, Dekker was polite, honest, easy to dance to, and even though technically this might not be reggae… I don't care. Dekker put down groundwork for what would happen later, and that's good enough for me.

A little part inspiring, a little part fun. That's reggae! More to come, along with last week's great big Spotify playlist, right after the jump.

Oh, hey, our Spotify playlist is back. This time it's Classical Co-Credits and it's a companion to our previous Music Monday post. Go see who stole/borrowed from the greats after you enjoy our current Music Monday below.

The Paragons - The Tide Is High


The Paragons are more influential than you might think. Most people know this song became a Blondie hit, but those same people might not know the Paragons' I've Got To Get Away evolved into a Massive Attack track. If you already did, good on you. You're aware of the importance of The Paragons. If not, now you know a little more.

Junior Byles - Curly Locks


It's easy to take this as just another love song. It's a nice day, a man's flirting with a woman by mentioning how dangerous he is and how her dad would be afraid, the tune sounds like they're both smiling… but there's something more going on here. This is the story of a guy being told he's not the same now that he's taken up the dreadlocks of his new Rastafarian religion, and asking his love to respect his new beliefs. In a way, it's a more beautiful version of Signs. A great listen that also reflects how lonely it can be to stand strong for who you are while those around you hate you for it.

Bob Marley - The Sun Is Shining


It is literally impossible to sum up Bob Marley in a paragraph. This was a musician so beloved that he was able to sway national elections, and so serious that he played a concert two days after he was shot. Much like John Lennon, pretty much everything Marley did was some kind of statement, but I chose this song because "here I am, and you can't take the sun" is maybe the best thing a person can say in the face of adversity. Just ask any Whedon nerd, they'll be forced to agree.

Jimmy Cliff - Miss Jamaica


Here, on the other hand, we DO have a sweet love song. Note the confident familiarity of "Although you may not have such a fabulous shape" leading into the official crowning. Don't you get a feeling of a husband teasing his wife at their 30th anniversary party? It's clear that even if Miss J. isn't some nineteen year old showgirl, she's still just right for our hero.

Lee "Scratch" Perry - Dread Lion


Six? Six. I wanted to mention all those tracks above, but I'm just not comfortable making a reggae playlist without The Upsetter. You could argue that he's the reason ska evolved into reggae in the first place. You could argue that he's the reason hip hop uses samples today. You could argue that he invented production techniques we love right now, and that shaped and popularized dub, and probably about a billion other things on top of all that. Before Sly and Robbie, Mad Professor, Ticklah, and pretty much anybody who wasn't named Coxsone… there was Lee "Scratch" Perry. I picked this track because it's great, but honestly, you could say that with almost any Lee Perry track picked at random. Yhere's no way I could have left him out of my list.

So let's face it: Scott's gettin' old, and a lot has happened to reggae over the years. Jump in the comments and throw down your own tunes, be they modern-day Reggaeton or rare 60s dub plates. Then feel free to reeeee-wiiind! and visit our room for the regular Music Monday enjoyment. Also, in the spirit of evolving riddims: some images come from their corresponding Wikipedia page and are here under fair use.