In Jamiaca in the late 1960's, the people had grown tired of the then dominating rock steady scene and wanted something new and exciting to dance to. All it took were three young producers, just starting out and trying to make it on their own, to change things up. These producers were Lee Perry, Joe Gibbs, and Clancy Eccles, and the sound they created was called reggae.
No one is really sure what exactly the first reggae record was, though everyone seems to agree that it was the Maytals "Do The Reggay" that gave the new sound it's name. Armed with the youngest, most talented session musicians of the time, Lee Perry formed his Upsetters, Joe Gibbs got his Hippy Boys (same guys as the Upsetters) and Clancy Eccles started his famous group The Dynamites.
The new sound created hits for all producers, most notably "Return of Django" by the Upsetters as well as lyric sides by Dave Barker and The Untouchables, "Fatty Fatty" by Clancy Eccles and "Fire Corner" by DJ King Stitt both produced by Clancy, and a whole heap of classics by Joe Gibs including records by The Heptones, The Pioneers, The Versatiles and Nicky Thomas to name just a few.
But it wasnt just the younger producers putting out hits with this new sound. Coxsone scored some major hits by the Heptones, Alton Ellis ("Sunday Coming"), John Holt ("A Love I Can Feel") and Larry Marshall ("Nanny Goat"). Also Leslie Kong scored big time with his pop reggae sound, having hits by veterans like Desmond Dekker ("Israelites") and The Maytals ("54-46").
Duke Reid was not quite as prolific during reggae as he was during rocksteady, but he scored a few times with John Holt as well as Joya Landis.
Reggae also spawned newer producers like Harry Johnson who produced a major instrumental hit in England with his studio group Harry J All-Stars. The record was called "Liquidator" and was an instant hit with Englands new skinhead subculture.
Reggae has become a broad term for pretty much all forms of Jamiacan music since 1968 and its no surprise since its such a great style of music. Of course you had Bob Marley make it to international superstardom in the mid-70's, but everyone forgets about Desmond Dekker topping the charts in the late 60's in England with "Israelites". I recommend everyone pick up any album they can from the early years of reggae and also check out the book "Boss Sounds" by Marc Griffiths for more information. These are the years when reggae music was more concerned with steady grooves than roots and rastafari. A time when the floor was packed with British skinheads and Jamaican rudeboys all dancing to the latest sounds from JA. No one can doubt that its the hardest sound around.
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