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!

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.”

Marcia Griffiths – Dreamland

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Oh my goodness, these harmonies…this riddim… A perfectly recreated ‘dreamland.’

There’s a land that I, have heard about,
So far across, the sea..
There’s a land that I, have heard about,
So far across, the sea..

To have, you on.. my dreamland,
Would be like, heaven to me..
To have you on.. my dreamland,
Would be like heaven to me..

We’ll live, together, on that dreamland,
And we’ll have, so much fun.
We’ll live together, on that dreamland,
And we’ll have so, much fun.

We’ll get our breakfast, from the trees.
We’ll get our honey, from the bees.
We’ll take a ride on the waterfalls.
We’ll count the stars, in the sky.

And surely, we’ll never die.
And surely, we’ll never die.
And surely, we’ll never die.

Oh, what a time, that will be,
Oh just, you wait, wait, wait and see.
And surely, we’ll never die.
And surely, we’ll never die.

Lone Ranger – The Answer

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What’s happening in my house right now. High volume a given.

“Said as the baldhead run out the natty dreadlocks run in”

Larry & Alvin – Press Along Nyah

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Another old favorite: a bright, sinuous skank with a totally singable, deftly harmonized hook. Great horns too.

Supreme Records – SU 10033 – Jamaica Music – Written by Larry Marshall

John Holt – Ali Baba

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Was reminded of this skank on the morning on the bus. I would include this among my list of songs that’d make a good bluegrass number.

Nobody Canna Cross It

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Yes this is old, but yes this is funny. It makes my kids laugh and laugh…

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Hurricane Blues

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Another deeply rhythmic, spiritual recording from UK-based Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. Note the unusual appearance of masterful slack-key guitar licks in a Caribbean tune.

langtime lovah
mi feel blue fi true wen mi tink bout you
blue like di sky lingerin’ promise a rain
in di leakin lite in di hush af a evenin twilite
wen mi memba how fus time
di two a wi come een- it did seem
like a lang lang rivah dat is wide an deep

sometime wi woz silent like di language a rock-stone
some time wi woodah sing wi rivah sang as wi a wine a galang
sometime wi jus cool an calm undah plenty shady tree
sometime sawfly lappin bamboo root as dem swing an sway
sometime casadin carefree doun a steep gully bank
sometime turbulent in tempament wi flood wi bank
but weddah ebb ar flow tru rain tru drout
wi nevah stray far from love rigid route…


Edit: In July 2014 this poem/song was named one of the ‘50 Greatest Modern Love Poems‘ by the Southbank Centre.

Sugar Minott – Guidance

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So groovy and mellow: lover’s rock for HIM.

Horace Andy – Bless You

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Bless you, bless every breath that you take,
bless every move that you make so perfectly,
and bless your little heart for loving me.