When people think of Reggae, usually Bob Marley’s name comes up, but there were many Reggae groups that formed from the 1960s to the 1980s, a small portion of which are included in this list of the 10 best Reggae albums of all time. Jamaica-produced musicians during this time may be little known, but portray the true essence of reggae music.
- “Heart of the Congos” by the Congos (1977). This Reggae album featured Cedric Myton, Ashanti Johnson, and Watty Burnett singing along with Lee “Scratch” Perry. The songs included backup singers like Gregory Isaacs, The Meditations, Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan from the Heptones. This Reggae album was considered to be one of Perry’s most brilliant albums of his career. It featured songs like “Fisherman” and “Solid Foundation.”
- “Natty Dread” by Bob Marley and the Wailers (1975). This was the first release of Bob Marley and the Wailers after The Wailers broke up. It features Aston Barrett and Carly Barrett on bass and drums, and American rock guitarist Al Anderson. Backups are provides by the I3’s. It features songs like “Catch a Fire” and “Burnin" along with the original version of “No Woman No Cry.”
- “Super Ape” by Lee Perry and the Upsetters (1976). Lee Perry made a form of music called Dub popular. Previous recordings were remixed and echo, reverb and other effects were added giving new life to the song. This style is completely different than Bob Marley’s and rather than affecting your soul, it carries you to a completely different place. Some of the highlights of this album are “Super Ape” and “Croaking Lizard.”
- “Man From Wareika” by Rico Rodriguez (1976). In this Reggae album Rico wrote all nine songs. He changed from his earlier ska sound to the 1970’s roots Reggae sounds. The album features horns, flutes and other instruments which gave a new style like Jamaican jazz. The album features “This Day” and “Lumumba,” which are still performed live and have been recorded by other artists.
- “Funky Kingston” by Toots and The Maytals (1975). This Reggae album was released because rock audiences had begun to get into reggae and wanted to hear the Jamaican sounds. Toots Hibbert got very close to American soul music with his gritty vocals. It featured songs such as “Time Tough” and “Got to Be There.”
- “The Best Reggae Album in the World … Ever” by various artists (1994). This British Reggae collection album contains 44 tracks and has four different sections, including pop-tinged ‘90s Reggae, classic early Reggae/rock steady/ska hits, ‘90s hits combined with late’70s, early ‘80s British ska/punk songs, and all-time favorites. Some of the artists include Shabba Ranks, Inner Circle, Dennis Brown, Bitty McLean and Sugar Minott.
- “Teach Them Right” by Apple Gabriel (2010). Apple Gabriel began his career back in 1978 with Israel Vibration. He went solo in 1997 and came out with his first solo album in 1999. After disappearing from view for a decade, Apple is back with a vengeance with this Reggae album which features songs like “Mr. Conman” and “Give Them Love.”
- “Born to Rule” by Mikey General (2010). Mikey started recording in the mid-‘80s and reached serious attention in the mid-‘90s. He has now established a place in modern roots Reggae music. His new 14-track album contains new songs plus old songs that have been reworked. Two of the songs featured are “Full Speed” and “Free.”
- “My Way” by Lady Saw (2010). This Grammy winner is back with a new mixed-bag Reggae album designed to reach a wider audience. She may still be “Queen of the Dancehall” but relies on some of her other talents besides her hardcore style in this album. Some of the songs include “Party Til December” (done with rapper Eve) and “I’m a Woman.”
- “Cultural Vibes Vol, 1 by various artists (2010). This eighteen track Reggae album includes songs from “Table’s Gonna Turn,” “Too Tuff,” “Judgement Time,” and “Teach Them Right.” The artists are from Jamaica and the Netherlands, young and old, which portray a social and cultural consciousness and authentic roots Reggae music. These songs are guaranteed to stimulate the mind and body.
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