There was a time when I thought that all reggae was just the same track, in fact, “over and over and over and over” until I found “the joy of repetition really (was) in (it).” Somehow the unhurried rhythms of reggae (and its brother ska) unfolding like a universe of sound have a really good stretch in the sunniest of days made a whole lot of sense.
It’s easy to accept reggae in today’s society as part of the musical fabric, but to look at where it came from and what it achieved is inspirational to say the least. From one small island, Jamaica, and primarily, Kingston came a musical, political and social thread that has influenced music from punk, two-tone to Massive Attack, Lily Allen and err, Shaggy.
The mighty Trojan label needs no introduction if you have a vague inkling towards all things reggae. Legendary for the quality of the roster of their artists reads like a who’s who of reggae innovators; from the sweet stylings of the Massive Attack-endorsed Horace Andy to the barking experimentation of chief loon Lee “Scratch” Perry. In between there’s the sweet lovers rock of Janet Kay (yes she of Silly Games fame) the fresh-faced ska of Jimmy Cliff amongst the party-starting set.
This album seems a bit superfluous with the only contemporary tune from dub-fuelled ska collective Pama International hinting at nothing ground-breaking.
The album see-saws unevenly like a stoned after-hours fan flinging the humble ska of Granville Williams to set the sunny pulse rolling up to a big band finale that captures everything great about a genre in under 3 minutes. The gleeful bounce of Derrick Morgan’s ska-flecked Moon Stomp , the moody (I Can’t Get Enough Of That) Reggae Stuff by Matumbi rubs shoulders with familiar tunes from Jimmy Cliff, Horace Andy and Lloyd Robinson.
Even the usually great Lee |”Scratch” Perry’s offering is remarkably pedestrian by his standards and the rather lame Ball Of Confusion by Dennis Alcapone brings things to a whimpering end on what is a lumpy and unnecessary reminder of why reggae was such a potent force.
Boss Sounds itself as a reggae festival is a mighty proposition featuring some of the heavyweights of a timeless genre, it’s just that this compilation seems an uneven trumpet’s parp amongst a cosmos of sunny and stormy vibes.