Toto Nécessité et son Groupe – O Seigneur

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Haitian artist Toto Nécessité –about whom little can be discerned via the usual sources– put a little spring in my step this morning. An upbeat production with fast-moving vocals reminiscent of an auctioneer or carnival barker, it is yet a supremely mellow groove to get hung up in.

Chuito El De Bayamon – Soy Un Caramelo

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Chiuto el de Bayamon was one of the last musicians to  play traditional Jibaro. Here he is with the orchestra of Johnny El Bravo. This is festive music: still heard around the holidays in Puerto Rico, especially in the countryside.

Los Muñequitos De Matanzas – Chacho

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Starts slowly, melodically; but eventually just can’t let up. Los Muñequitos De Matanzas, world-renowned masters of rumba, fill your ears with drums and your feet with rhythms.

The Congos – Children Crying

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A great reggae groove from their Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry-produced 1977 debut LP, Children Crying is full of ethereal backing vocals, the growling sounds of empty stomachs/wild beats, and the observant Rasta consciousness that typifies The Congos.

Send us another Moses, to lead the nation.
The hungry must be fed, so there’ll be no more sufferation.
All the people that you see
Will be the children of the Most High.

Stranger Cole & Ken Boothe – Uno Dos Tres

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All-purpose get-down music in rocksteady vein from Denham Town, Kingston’s-own Ken Boothe & Wilburn “Stranger” Cole. A catchy, versatile riddim.

A humorous aside: ‘Stranger’ Cole was given his nickname by his parents when he was still a baby because he didn’t resemble anyone in the family.


The RAS Family – We Wish You A Merry Christmas

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RAS Recordings Presents: A Reggae Christmas
RAS Recordings Presents: A Reggae Christmas

I came into ska & reggae about the same time I came into the punk scene: the early 80s (the two were indistinguishable at times). The RAS Records Christmas album came out in 1984 and found its way into my hands –and the annals of our family’s Holiday traditions– the same year.

The album is precisely what you think it’s going to be: the biggest-name artists from the RAS Records catalogue, corralled into recording their own version of a Christmas classic, plus participating in a group sing, which brings us to this recording.

The RAS Family’s version of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas‘ features some of the best-renowned performers in the reggae world, yet fails to achieve escape velocity as a piece of music. As an item of humor however it is well worth the short slice of your life it’ll take to hear the inimitable Eek-A-Mouse utter the following line, a line that has been emblazoned on my brain since Christmas 1984:

Hi. This is Eek-A-Mouse, and I’m six feet six tall above your Christmas tree. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. ‘Bye!

Itals – Truth Must Reveal

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“Got to reveal, got to reveal. The truth that was hidden, got to reveal.”

Desmond Baker & The Clarendonians – Rude Boy Gone A Jail

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“You say that you never go to jail/because you’re so rude that you can not fail.”

Itals – Action

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As ever, the Itals inoculate the people with Rasta consciousness amid memorable, penetrating riddims.

Every day you get up and you say the same thing: where do I begin?
Some living like a king: some don’t even know where to begin.
It’s no joke when they say that I’m afraid to face the start of another day. This I’ve got to say:
Show me your intentions right now: I wanna’ see your actions speak louder than words.
Show me your intentions.

The Mighty Diamonds – Have Mercy

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In my ear a song like this inhabits the space between soul/r&b music and reggae. Released in 1976 on the ‘Right Time’ LP:

Guide us Jah man, guide us Jah man, oh yeah.

Have mercy on a good man, and help him we pray Jah man.
Have mercy on a good girl, and help her we pray Jah man.

Man was made to suffer, yeah, and women were made to feel the pain.
Stay by our side and guide us we pray Jah man.
Give us all your blessing, and help us we pray Jah man.

Time is running out, but we need no one, not to cry nor shout.
Change them who’s gone astray, and show them the way Jah man.
Make this an everlasting example we pray Jah man, yeah.

Man was made to suffer, yeah, yeah, and women was made to feel the pain.
Have mercy on a good man, and help him we pray Jah man.
Have mercy on a good girl, and help her we pray Jah man.