This episode features roots reggae songs from the Gregory Isaacs catalog. I chose to curate his songs about the reality of everyday life and the strife of poor people.
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Gregory Isaacs was born in Jamaica on July 15, 1951. He made his debut in 1968 with a recording for Byron Lee. He then started the African Museum record label and shop along with Errol Dunkley. Isaacs recorded for other producers as well. His single ‘My Only Lover,’ is credited as the first lover’s rock song ever.
He released music throughout the 70s. In 1978 he signed to the Virgin Records offshoot call Frontline records. That led to his appearance in the movie “Rockers.” He also opened a record shop called Cash & Carry in Kingston. He performed yearly at Reggae Sunsplash from 1981 to 1991.
In 1982 he signed to Island Records and released the massive single, “Night Nurse.” Isaacs was only challenged by Dennis Brown and Bob Marley in touring. Gregory recorded and released at least 70 original studio albums. He has over 500 albums including compilations. He maintained an amazing standard of quality in most of his recorded songs.
Gregory Isaacs was nominated for four Grammy Awards, the last of which in 2010 and 2011. One of the things associated with Isaacs was cocaine use. He had many arrests during the years that he battled with addiction.
When you listen to this mix compared to my lover’s rock mix (Episode 116), you can sense a different vibration. Gregory’s passionate lyrical delivery on social issues is very believable. He passed away in 2010 to lung cancer.
I would love to hear what you think about this singer – the musical giant known as “The Cool Ruler.” Comment here, tweet @ReggaeLoverPod, or send an email to email@example.com.
This episode starts with early rocksteady then goes back in time to original vintage ska.
For those who are not familiar with ska, I will attempt to give you a brief history. Ska music originated in Jamaica in the 1950s and became popular in the 1960s. When you listen to ska lyrics and melodies you must keep a few things in mind:
- Ska had an uptempo beat for dancing and required very energetic dance moves. It’s based on Mento (Jamaican folk music) and Caribbean Calypso mixed with classic American R&B.
- Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain in 1962 with ska as the soundtrack. This music is the island’s 1st true ‘pop’ genre and there is a sense of new national pride in some of the lyrics.
- An influx of youth moved from outlying areas of the island to Kingston to look for work. Unable to make a living, many teens resorted to illegal activities. This set the stage for what became known as the “rude boy” subculture, another major source of lyrics in early ska.
In the late 1960s the pace of the ska beat slowed down and a new, slower genre called rocksteady emerged. Rocksteady only remained popular from 1966 to 1968. Then reggae music hit the town and spread like wildfire.
Ska caught on in the British market from 1960 to 1967. Many British ska record labels popped up on the scene releasing music that featured Jamaican artists and musicians. The skinhead and punk communities also embraced the music. Ska experienced a revival with a second wave of popularity driven by UK bands in the 1970s. Traditional ska transformed with the hard edge of punk rock among other influences.
The third wave of popularity began in the 1980s and continued into the 1990s. By then most continents had a growing ska presence. Ska bands such as No Doubt, Sublime, and Fishbone led the way in the United States and had major commercial success.
- Johnny Clarke – Move Out of Babylon
- Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey
- Carl Dawkins – Baby I Love You
- Derrick Morgan – Tougher Than Tough
- Peter Tosh and The Soulmates – Rudie’s Medley
- Desmond Dekker – 007 (Shanty Town)
- Lloyd Robinson – No More Trouble
- Alton Ellis and The Flames – Cry Tough
- Alton Ellis and The Flames – Blessing of Love
- Hopeton Lewis – Take It Easy
- Alton Ellis – Girl I’ve Got a Date
- U-Roy – Wake the Town
- U-Roy – I Can’t Love Another
- Ken Boothe – The Train is Coming
- Bob Andy – I’ve Got to Go Back Home
- Delroy Wilson – Dancing Mood
- Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come
- Paragons – Happy Go Lucky Girl
- Eric Morris – If I Didn’t Love You
- The Melodians – Rivers of Babylon
- Stranger Cole – Rough and Tough
- Theophilus Beckford – Easy Snappin’
- Bob and Marcia – Young Gifted and Black
- Prince Buster – Hard Man Fe Dead
- The Maytals – Six and Seven Books of Moses
- The Skatalites – Guns of Navarone
- Derrick Morgan – Forward March
- Prince Buster – Al Capone
- Derrick Morgan – The Hop
- Derrick Morgan – Housewives Choice
- Don Drummond – Man in the Street
- The Folkes Brothers – Oh Carolina
- Bob Marley – Judge Not
- Jimmy Cliff – Miss Jamaica
- Alton Ellis and The Flames – Dance Crasher
- Justin Hinds and The Dominoes – Carry Go Bring Come
- The Wailers – Simmer Down
- Laurel Aitken – Boogie in My Bones
- Clancy Eccles – Sammy No Dead
- Baba Brooks – Girl’s Town Ska
- Owen Gray – Midnight Track
- Millie Small – My Boy Lollipop
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