Thursday, 24 September 2009

Jamaica Part Two

Being a subscriber to Songlines magazine, I like to think I'm well up on world music and countries like Cuba certainly feature high in world music terms. Not so Jamaica. I guess reggae, ska and rocksteady don't really fit into our idea of what world music is. It's too mainstream. Which, in many ways proves that Jamaican music is incredibly popular in the Anglophone world and, indeed, has influenced whole generations of American and British artists.

And then there's Bob Marley.

A legend in his own right. I chose not to listen to the music of Bob Marley, for the same reasons I chose not to listen to the music of Bjork, when I was learning about Iceland. I wanted to learn something new. So, I ordered the Rough Guide to the Music of Jamaica.

As well as their series of guidebooks, the Rough Guides have also produced a series of music compilations. Not for connoisseurs perhaps, but a good introduction to a nation/culture's music nevertheless. I really enjoyed this CD. The early tracks, such as Basil Gabbidon's Going Back to Ja conjured up images of paradise beaches in Montego Bay and exclusive resorts where American film stars of the 50's and 60's used to hang out. The tracks seemed to move chronologically from a naive bliss to a much darker, drug induced paranoia, as some of the later tracks seemed to resonate.

The track I want to share with you this time is Don't stay away by Phyllis Dillon. In a male-dominated musical culture, it's refreshing to hear a voice as light and warm as a Caribbean breeze. I could go really over board and see this song as a love song from Jamaica to the rest of the world but, well . . . I won't :)

Image credits - the image of the reggae singer is by flickruser onlinejones who is a practising artist based in the West Midlands. You can find out more at his website

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