That’s my passport on the left, Lana’s on the right.
I worked just about every day for the past year, but it’s about to pay off — I’m about to rock Lana’s little world. 🙂
A dream is coming true, and we’re about leave to the country.
WE’RE FLYIN’ TO JAMAICA, MON!
We’re going to be soaking up the sun, floating in the Carribean Sea, swimming with dolphins, riding the famous swimming horses, and eating “jerk”-flavored foods.
But maybe best of all, we will be experiencing a fascinating and beautiful culture,
which includes some of the best (and happiest-sounding) MUSIC in the world.
So this year’s Hot Summer Playlist is a celebration of all great REGGAE music. I’ve gone through hundreds of tunes, and put together a super-fun set — from straight-up Reggae to Reggae-influenced pop, hip-hop, rock, hard rock, rap, and everything in between.
It’s time to get ya booty shakin’, mon! So here it is. Click the link below to hear
Jenn’s Hot Summer Playlist 2014 – The Jamaican Vacay Edition:
Songs/Artists featured this year:
1. MUSICAL YOUTH – “Pass the Dutchie”, 1982. Any of you who grew up in the 80’s remember this fun, danceable tune. This young British Reggae band somehow made you feel impossibly happy, even while singing “How does it feel when ya got no food?”
2. SEAN KINGSTON – “Fire Burning”, 2009. Sean Kingston was actually born Kisean Anderson in Florida, 1990. But at the age of six, he moved to Kingston, the capital of Jamaica…thus the chosen performance name. His grandfather also happens to be the noted Jamaican reggae producer Lawrence Lindo. This particular reggae-influenced hip-hop number never fails to get me dancing. Watch out Jamaica — there bout to be TWO “shorties fire burnin’ on the dance floor…”
3. Paul Simon – “Mother and Child Reunion”, 1972. One half of the famous duo “Simon and Garfunkel”, he also has produced amazing solo work, of all types and influences. This track was released on his first solo album, and also happens to be one of the earliest songs by a white musician to feature the prominent elements of Reggae. It reached #1 in South Africa, and #4 on the U.S. Billboard Charts. (Also, if you’ve never heard “Late in the Evening”, which is more SALSA-influenced, you haven’t lived. Check it out).
4. Madness – “One Step Beyond”, 1979. Madness are an English Ska band from London, and were a big part of the British early 80’s Ska and 2 Tone revival. Ska, by the way, is a type of music that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and it was the precursor to both Rocksteady and Reggae. (Another huge Ska band to come later would be No Doubt). This is one of their faster (and more comical) songs/videos. I always got a kick out of the guy dancing in front of the red British phone booths. Lots of fun, this lot…
5. 311 – “Beautiful Disaster”, 2001. 311 (pronounced “three-eleven”) is an American reggae-influced rock band from Omaha, Nebraska. The band’s name originates from the police code for indecent exposure. Their unique blend of rap, rock, hard rock, reggae, funk, and jazz created a sound that catapulted them to fame in the early 2000’s. This tune is both rocking and chill at the same time. My daughter Lana, coincidentally, was born at 3:11
6. Prince Buster – “Enjoy Yourself”, 1963. “Prince Buster” was born Cecil Bustamente Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica, 1939. He is still alive today (76). This tune was actually first recorded by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians in 1950, and it reached #10. It wouldn’t be until 1963 that Prince Buster would record and release this Ska version via Blue Beat Records as a B-side.
7. The Clash – “Guns of Brixton”, 1979. The Clash were, of course, a punk rock group. But the British band was HUGELY influeced by Reggae music in the 1970’s, recording several tracks that are undeniably a nod to the musical genre. This is one of those, and one of my favorites. It was written and sung by the bassist of the group, Paul Simonon, who grew up in Brixton (which is south of London). It was also greatly influenced by the classic reggae gangster film “The Harder they Come”. Also, if you haven’t heard it, listen to The Clash tune “Daddy Was a Bankrobber”. SO MUCH Jamaican groove, and so much fun.
8. The Specials – “Too Much Too Young”, 1979. The Specials were another British Ska Revival band to emerge in the late 1970’s. Their first album was produced by Elvis Costello (who was also influenced by the Reggae sounds – see later in the list). This tune has the energy and humor of reggae and ska, but with a more upbeat punk sound and sensibility. The live version went to the #1 on the charts, but the recorded version couldn’t get airplay — it was considered “taboo” because of its subject matter: contraception (or lack thereof) and teen pregnancy.
9. The Police – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, 1981. The Police were a rock band that formed in 1977 in London, England. They would have many hits (and many of those clearly Reggae-inspired) on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Sting, the lead singer, actually wrote this song in 1976, but it wouldn’t be released as the public now knows it until 1981. The song has often been praised for its brilliant lyrics, and it was on the charts in many countries because of its upbeat, enjoyable sound. One of my faves by the group…
10. Desmond Dekker – “Israelites”, 1968. Dekker was a Jamaican Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae singer/songwriter/musican. With this recording, he achieved one of the first ever international reggae hits. It was also one of the first Reggae tunes to reach the #1 in the UK and enter the US top ten. Like many Reggae songs, it deals with hardships (Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir, So that every mouth can be fed. Poor me Israelites…), yet it has an almost infectious “feel-good” vibe in the sound that accompanies it. A true Reggae classic.
11. Lily Allen – “Smile”, 2006. This was the debut single which shot the young, cheeky British singer to fame. A catchy mix of the reggae/ska sounds and a lot of attitude, it pleases even while it stings. You gotta love any woman who starts out a song with “When you first left me, I was wanting more. But you were fucking that girl next door. What’d ya do that for?” And the video is a riot. Here’s to scorned women getting their reggae-infused revenge!
12. Toots and the Maytals – “54-46, That’s My Number”, 1968. This became one of the first Ska songs to receive widespread popularity outside Jamaica, and it’s seen as being one of the defining songs of the Reggae genre. It is referenced repeatedly, and the titles of several reggae anthologies include “54-46” in their title. The lyrics describe writer Fred “Toots” Hibbert’s time in prison for possession of marijuana. If you don’t feel like moving your body when you hear this bad-ass bassline, you may need to check your pulse — you’re probably dead.
13. Duran Duran – “Watching the Detectives”, 1995. This was first written and performed by Elvis Costello in 1977. Duran Duran covered the song in 1995 on their album “Thank You” (an entire album of covers songs by some of their favorite artists). The funky Reggae element is changed but still very present in this version, which seems to have an even darker, more ominous feel than the original. “Allmusic”‘s Mark Deming described the original song itself as : “a skeletal minor-key melody that slowly but effectively wound itself into a solid knot of fierce emotional tension, pushing the bitter lyrical atmosphere further into the darkness.”
14. Hopeton Lewis – “Take It Easy”, 1966. The entire Jamaican culture seems to be about laying back and “takin’ it easy”, and that attitude is perfectly captured in this little rocksteady tune by Jamaican artist Hopeton Lewis. He was born in Kingston in 1947, and after this breakthrough hit, he had several more in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, including the first “herb” song ever recorded in Jamaica, “Cool Collie”.
15. Snow (feat. Nadine Sutherland, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Terror Fabulous, Louie Culture & Kulcha Knox) – “Anything For You”, 1997. Darrin Kenneth O’Brien (born October 30, 1969), better known by his stage name Snow, is a Canadian Reggae musician. Many of you probably know him only from his 1992 single “Informer”, which reached No. 1 in the U.S. His signature sound is a mix of Reggae and Rap, a pretty infectious sound to add to a beach party playlist.
16. Lord Creator – “Kingston Town”, 1970. Born Kentrick Patrick in Trinidad and Tobago in 1940, he began performing as a Calypso artist under the name “Lord Creator”. He moved to Jamaica in the late 1950’s, where he recorded his first hit, “Evening News”, in 1959. He would record and perform many hits and influence many acts, including UB40 (who recorded a cover of “Kingston Town”). Lord Creator now lives in Montego Bay, where my daughter and I will be staying.
17. UB40 – “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, 1993. Speaking of UB40 (see Lord Creator cover, above)…this British Reggae-Pop group is well known for other modern, Reggae-infused covers, including “Red, Red Wine” (a Neil Diamond song), and THIS one, originally made famous by Elvis Presley. UB40’s version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” would become their most successful international release.
18. Bob Marley – “Stir It Up”, 1967. You can’t talk about Reggae without talking about “The King”, so he gets two spots on the playlist this year. Born Robert Nesta Marley on the farm of his paternal grandfather in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, he achieved musical success and fame with his band The Wailers — most notably with the album Exodus, released in 1977. His unique songwriting and performing style won fans worldwide and continues to influence musicians of every type to this day. This particular song was first written for his wife Rita in 1967.
19. Bob Marley – “Three Little Birds”, 1977. A Reggae classic and popular song worldwide, “Three Little Birds” has been heard by most people in one form or another at some time. The inspiration for the lyrics remains disputed. Many believe that Marley was LITERALLY writing about the birds he loved, which would fly and sit next to his home. Tony Gilbert, a long time friend of Marley, remembers: “Bob got inspired by a lot of things around him, he observed life. I remember the three little birds. They were pretty birds, canaries, who would come by the windowsill at Hope Road.” No matter the inspiration, this tune continues to make people feel happy every day and reminds us that “every little thing is gonna be alright.” Sho nuff.
I hope you all enjoy this year’s Hot Summer Playlist. Maybe you’ll even discover a new favorite artist or type of music. May you be happy and at peace, mon. 🙂
Until we return, tan and happy…