FOR THE GOOD TIMES – Reggae Albums of 1974

Whereas the Soul History section of the book recommends 100 albums from each year of the early Seventies, the Reggae History element is limited to just 50 long-playing vinyl records. The reasons for this are twofold: in some years there weren’t as many as 100 even released in the UK but moreso, the quality of a number of reggae albums was questionable. Even as it stands, some of the albums listed may only be one or two-track LPs. Reggae has always been a market dominated by the ‘single’ format – whether on 7-inch, or from 1977 on 12-inch. Reggae’s initial forays into the LP format during the Sixties had tended to be a proliferation of compilation albums and hit collections. This trend began to change in the early Seventies as reggae companies began to experiment with more carefully conceived albums by reggae bands, groups and singers. It also introduced the ‘dub’ album to the world which significantly increased the popularity of the format in reggae circles and beyond. We have already inspected the Top 100 Soul Albums of 1974 – this week we focus on the Top 50 Reggae Albums of 1974. These albums sold almost exclusively in specialist black music shops as many were released on local independent reggae labels. Trojan Records was the major company for reggae at the time (of the 50, over half are on Trojan or associated labels Horse and Attack). These tended to have better national distrubution so made these records more accessible. Though Continue reading

1976 – UK Reggae Number One Albums

The first UK Reggae LPs chart appeared in Black Echoes on February 14th 1976. During the year, 114 albums made the charts – which, from the very beginning, included reggae albums imported from Jamaica or the United States. Of those 114 albums, 10 were by DJ artists, 20 were by bands and vocal groups, 27 were by male vocalists – with only 1 by a female vocalist. The rest were dub albums and compilations. More albums reached No.1 by DJ artists than any other – but the biggest album of the year – by a long chalk – was by a group. Big albums of the year that didn’t reach the No.1 slot include Legalize It by Peter Tosh (No.2), Life Of Contradiction by Joe Higgs (No.4), On The Rock by The Cimarons (No.2), Kick Boy Face by Prince Jazzbo (No.4), Chalis Blaze by Jah Woosh (also No.4) Man In The Hills by Burning Spear (No. 3), Columbia Colly by Jah Lion (also No.3), Trenchtown Mix-Up by The Gladiators (No.4), Satta Massagana by The Abbysinians (No.2). Night Food by The Heptones (also No.2) and 2000 Volts Of Holt by John Holt (No.3). Big-selling dub albums included Gun Court Dub, Rass Claat Dub, African Dub Chapter 2, King Tubby Surrounded By The Dreads At The National Arena and Rasta Dub ’76. Apart from the special No.1 sampler listed below, the other big compilation of the year was Strictly Rockers In A Dread Land. Just 13 albums managed to reach the highly Continue reading

DREAD MOOD – Reggae Singles of 1975

Celebrate Good Times not only microscopically inspects the chart positions of thousands of reggae and soul albums and singles over a period of 24 years, it also retrospectively salutes the great soul and reggae music from bygone eras – from the 50s right through to the mid 70s. For me, 1975 was a very special year for a variety of reasons. 1) My baby sister was born ; 2) I left school (YAY!) ; 3) I went nuts about reggae music. These three things were pivotal events in my life. Reggae music pretty much took over my very being that year – it was like a drug and I was seriously hooked. I read everything I could about it in magazines, newspapers, fanzines. I spent all my spare time in reggae record shops. I bought as much as I could afford. I picked up mainly UK releases but also started to buy pre-release Jamaican imports. I avidly listened to Capital Radio’s TV On Reggae radio show every Saturday night. Tommy Vance even read a request out for me! Even through ’76 and ’77 I was still tracking down tunes I’d heard and wanted in ’75. I created my very first Wants List. Trust me, it was extensive! Of course, I wasn’t to realise at the time how fortunate I was to get switched on to reggae music when it was coming into its golden era. As for the kind of reggae music that appealed to me at the time – Continue reading

The Top 25 Reggae Singles of 1977

Part of the focus of Celebrate Good Times will be on supplying an overview of each year in a section dedicated entirely to Annual Analysis. This has various strands including a chronological yearly retrospective on subjects including trends, music styles, innovations, outstanding gigs, news stories and obituaries. In addition, there will also be a listing of Top 25s of the year in relation to reggae and soul albums and singles. Using a specially devised inverted points system, these listings of the Top 25 records of the year will provide a snapshot of the most successful records of the year – which are not always the No.1 tunes. Any records which overlap two years are listed in the year with most weeks on the chart – or, if that is equal, the year of its highest chart position. There were 189 new entries on to the reggae singles chart during 1977 – using the unique points system, here are the Top 25 of the year. Highest chart positions are in brackets. 1. Man In Me | Matumbi | Matumbi Music Corp. (1) 838 points In 1976 this British reggae band had attained tremendous success with their chart-topping proto-lovers rock single ‘After Tonight’. This follow-up was issued on their own label at the tail end of ’76 and entered the UK Reggae 20 on January 1st at No.10. It was a Bob Dylan song originally recorded by him and included on his 1970 album ‘New Morning’ – but had been covered by Continue reading

1976 – UK Reggae Number Ones

The chart returns system in the UK back in the 70s (and beyond) was not a fair one. Sales records for the national singles and albums charts were made up almost entirely of high street shops and chains. In the main, independent record shops throughout the country were not called upon to supply their sales data – which meant that the majority of independently released music (across all specialist genres) was absent from the national charts. The reggae scene in the mid-Seventies was thriving with an ever-increasing number of small independent labels springing up in London, Birmingham and other cities and towns. Major reggae companies such as Vulcan, Third World, Jama and Klik were releasing some tracks which most certainly would have made the ‘pop’ charts had the sales figures of these tunes been returned from the specialist shops. Getting their records distributed into the high street shops was a real problem. However, their sales were reflected in what was initially called the UK Reggae 20 which was first published on January 30th 1976. Thereafter, it was compiled and published on a weekly basis for decades. In 1976, there were 199 entries onto the chart released on 66 different labels (including four Jamaican pre-release imports) by 127 reggae acts. The following is a breakdown – in chronological order – of the 19 records which topped the chart during that year. Midnight Rider | Paul Davidson | Tropical  1 wk Paul’s reggae rendition of Gregg Allman’s 1973 hit song was recorded Continue reading