My Top Five:
Marcia Griffiths - Feel Like Jumping
Bam Bam - Sister Nancy
John Holt - A love I can feel
Cornell Campbell - Undying Love
Ernest Ranglin - Surfin
And, for folks on Spotify, here’s a longer list of sunshine jams.
I have to admit - my reggae knowledge was pretty superficial until I met my husband. I knew Bob Marley’s oeuvre (more than just Legend, I swear) and the classics that my boys would blend into their hip hop mixes in college. Gregory Isaacs, Sister Nancy, Steel Pulse, and Burning Spear were on occasional rotation...but it’s really only in the last couple of years that I’ve started digging deeper in the catalogue. Chris has an impressive collection of classic dub and reggae and our mutual love of the Caribbean kickstarted a newfound passion.
Reggae spans a helluva lot of genres - dancehall, ska, roots, lover rock… It’s the early studio one jams and the later instrumental dub that gets me moving, though. Soul Jazz records out of the UK has some amazing vinyl compilations out, which inspired me to pull some of my favorite tracks together.
Most of these classics were released originally on the legendary Studio One label. Sir Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s seminal label launched careers for Bob, Peter Tosh, The Skatalites, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Burning Spear, The Heptones and dozens more. He produced many of the classic tracks and ran one of the best and most influential Jamaican recording studios in the 1960s and 1970s. Many, many pages have been written on the history of Studio One if you want to learn more.