BASS Festival 2018 has been celebrating 50 years of reggae this October, with live music, masterclasses and plenty more events taking place across Birmingham.
Reggae luminaries Freddie McGregor, Toots and The Maytals, Carroll Thompson and the UK’s Christopher Ellis have all put on massive performances so far.
Elsewhere, there’s still a panel to come from BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Seani B plus a masterclass from Grammy winning producer Winta James.
Curated by music development agency, Punch, the festival is on now and runs on until 31 October 2018.
Head here for more info, and get into the golden anniversary mood with this tasty playlist curated by the festival’s organisers. Scroll to the bottom to tune in…
The Abyssinians – Satta Massa Gana
A roots reggae album released officially in 1976. It is widely considered The Abyssinians’ crowning achievement and a classic roots reggae album. The title track Satta Massa Gana was a huge hit and has been versioned numerous times by both The Abyssinians and other artists since. It has even been adopted by some Rastafarian groups as a hymn used during services. The song, which translates from the Amharic language as ‘He Gave Praise’, was originally recorded for Studio One in 1969, but the label’s owner, Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd declined to release it.
Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey
This was the first album by the group recorded for Island Records, whose founder Chris Blackwell had been instrumental in breaking Jamaican reggae artists Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, and Bob Marley to an international audience.
Cool Runner Come Again – Gregory Isaacs
Cool Ruler is a 1978 studio album by Gregory Isaacs, his first released on the Virgin Records subsidiary Front Line. The Jamaican release was on Isaacs’ African Museum imprint. The album was produced by Isaacs and mixed by Lancelot ‘Maxie’ McKenzie at Channel One Studios in Kingston, Jamaica. Some of the tracks on the album are considered among the best ever recorded by Isaacs, although the album failed to give him the international breakthrough that had been anticipated.
Buju Banton – Wanna Be Loved
Dancehall saw initial mainstream success in Jamaica in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, it became increasingly popular in Jamaican diaspora communities. In the 2000s, dancehall experienced worldwide mainstream success, and by the 2010s, it began to heavily influence the work of established Western artists and producers, which has helped to further bring the genre into the Western music mainstream.
Eek-A-Mouse – Wa-Do-Dem
Eek-A-Mouse began his music career when he was in college, releasing two roots reggae singles under his own name, which were produced by his mathematics tutor, Mr. Dehaney. He adopted the stage name ‘Eek-A-Mouse’ in 1979, taking the name of a racehorse he always bet on; it was a nickname his friends had used for some time.
Dean Fraser – Dance with You
Dean Ivanhoe Fraser (sometimes appearing as Dean Frazer) is a Jamaican saxophonist who has contributed to hundreds of reggae recordings since the mid-1970s. He was awarded the Musgrave Medal by the Jamaican government in 1993 in recognition of his services to music.
Desmond Dekker – Israelites
Israelites is a song written by Desmond Dekker and Leslie Kong that became a hit for Dekker’s group, Desmond Dekker & The Aces, peaking in 1969. Although few could understand all the lyrics, the single was the first UK reggae number one and among the first to reach the US top ten (peaking at number 9). It combined the Rastafarian religion with rude boy concerns, to make what has been described as a ‘timeless masterpiece that knew no boundaries’.
Konshens – Bruk Off Yuh Back
Garfield Delano Spence, stage name Konshens, was born on 11 January 1985. Prior to his solo career, he was a member of the duo SoJah with his brother Delus. His hits have included this huge hit Bruk Off Yuh Back, which you might have heard tearing up Notting Hill Carnival in 2016.
The Melodians – Swing & Dine
An icon in the music business, Sonia Pottinger was the first female Jamaican record producer and produced artists from the mid-1960s until the mid-1980s. Throughout the rock steady and early reggae eras, she became very prolific with hits by The Ethiopians (The Whip), Delano Stewart, The Melodians (Swing And Dine), Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and Toots & the Maytals, released on her Gay Feet, Tip Top, Rainbow, and High Note labels.
Carroll Thompson – I’m So Sorry
Carroll Thompson is a British lovers rock singer, best known as the ‘Queen of Lovers Rock’. She began working as a backing singer at several recording studios after auditioning for Frank Farian’s Sugar Cane group. Eventually, Thompson embarked on a solo career, with early successes in the shape of Lovers rock singles I’m So Sorry and Simply In Love both topping the reggae chart in 1981 – the same year that saw the release of her independent iconic debut album, Hopelessly in Love, which sold over a million copies worldwide.