Even though I’m hardly a reggae expert, I know full well that it’s fun to dance to. The compilers of this album seem to agree with me, as evidenced by the first line in a very extensive essay about reggae found inside the cover: “A reggae record that does not fill its audience with an urge to hit the dance floor, be it at some dusty yard in Kingston, or a swanky loft in New York, is not working at the music’s most fundamental level.”
I feel at ease, though, because it almost seems this compilation is directed towards both serious reggae enthusiasts and people who like it but are relatively clueless. Here is a collection of all the essential reggae dance tunes from the ‘60s all the way up through the ‘90s, including Toots & The Maytals, Big Youth, and The Kingstonians. Janet Kay’s “Loving You” has to be my favorite song on this record. It has that standard reggae beat, but adds very melodious harmonies and chirping birds to create an overtly innocent and sensual listening experience. Lines like “Loving you is easy cuz you’re beautiful” and “we can spend each day in the springtime” sound much more diplomatic and enticing when they come with a traditional reggae beat rather than a traditional pop sound.
One thing that confused me in the beginning was the inclusion here of artists that were never very popular, and the exclusion of musicians such as Bob Marley. It seems that the desired end result for Music Club was to have a compilation of more traditional reggae dance songs, as opposed to Marley’s more pop-friendly style, which is fine with me; most of these songs would be impossible to find if you just went to your local record store. But what about Jimmy Cliff? He’s considered to pander to more traditional reggae, right? Alas, he does not appear here.
The great thing about Music Club is A: they’re not a music club, and B: they do this for every album they put out. Traditional blues, jazz, ‘80s, trance, or even zydeco, Music Club has a compilation for it. Each album is compiled and analyzed by apparent musicologists and they are all available for under 10 dollars at any online CD store. So, if you’re interested in learning more about reggae, and you’ve got 10 bucks (or seven quid), get this album.
// Notes from the Road
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