TROJAN LEGENDS BOX SET (TJETD271) - Legend: An extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field... A traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated...
The New Oxford Dictionary Of English

The music of Jamaica, and its attendant culture, has developed and expanded over the past five decades and endless outside influences have been taken, adopted and adapted to make up a unified and coherent whole, while its very own legends have grown with it without any assistance from press offices or promotion departments.

This set opens with Laurel Aitken who was born in Cuba in 1927 to a Cuban mother and a Jamaican father and who moved to Jamaica in 1938. Laurel had previously found a measure of fortune with the Jamaican Tourist Board performing calypso and mento songs to visitors as they alighted from their cruise ships moored in Kingston Harbour. 'Boogie In My Bones' was an unabashed declaration of just how incredibly popular the hard, driving USA Rhythm & Blues beat, which had all but dried up in its land of origin, was in Jamaica. Legend has it that the band that supplied the boogie beat for Laurel allegedly came from Canada although this was definitely Chris Blackwell's first foray into record production and was released on his R&B label in Jamaica and on Starlite in the UK. Chris went on to establish Island Records in Jamaica and later, Britain, and would eventually guide the music of Bob Marley & The Wailers to worldwide prominence in the seventies. 'Boogie In My Bones, and its flipside 'Little Sheila' remained on the Jamaican charts, started by JBC in 1959, for over twelve months as 1959 moved onto 1960. Laurel moved between Kingston and London throughout the sixties and he became one of the cornerstones of the UK reggae scene, and 'The Godfather Of Ska' is still entertaining audiences today. The Jamaican recording business as we now know it began here and all the varied strands that made it so original, and that went on to make it so important are present in this raucous approximation of American Rhythm & Blues. This record truly was the catalyst that started a revolution and it encapsulates perfectly the multi faceted history of Jamaican music. It really doesn't get much more legendary than this...

The music of Jamaica has been starved of the 'oxygen of publicity' since its birth but it has continued to grow and flourish despite the rest of the world's wilful and almost total ignorance of what it's all about. When the popular press finally took notice of reggae it was because of their fascination with the alleged behaviour of Bob Marley who they named 'the wild man of pop'. He was Miss World's boyfriend, they reliably informed us, and he not only smoked copious amounts of marijuana, but he also fathered countless children by a variety of different mothers. Not a word was written about the music that Bob Marley made, but it was deemed newsworthy when Bob was shot and wounded in an assassination attempt prior to the 'Smile Jamaica' concert. Needless to say, the story behind the 'One Love Peace Concert' that attempted to heal the breach between Kingston's warring factions and where Bob had linked Michael Manley's and Edward Seaga's hands above his head on stage never made The Sun's guide of 'Twenty Things You Never Knew About Rastas'. Apparently it's well known to journalists that editors prefer for them to put nineteen or twenty one facts in these type of listings because an even number looks as if the facts have been made up to fit the number! Of course they've probably made it all up anyway, but you couldn't make up The Mail On Sunday's world exclusive on 'How Bob Marley Hid His White English Father From The World'. It should be fairly obvious that the type of publicity that reggae music's most well known performer was subjected to at the height of his fame that everyone involved would have been better off without any of it.

But records have to keep on selling, audience numbers need to keep swelling and the tales need telling to keep it all in motion. The wheels of commercialism keep on turning and every day the popular press is full of the type of stories that are never authenticated, but are popularly regarded, in the media's constant attempts to style and fashion 'legends'. Press and publicity departments engineer serious media coverage, often amounting to overkill, for artists who belatedly come round to realising that the simple things in life, such as some peace and quiet, are perhaps more important to them than fame. But once the bandwagon has been set in motion it is almost impossible to try to stop it and nobody is ever allowed to get off. The appetite of the tabloid press, once whetted, is voracious in the extreme and often after particularly intrusive bouts of 'door stepping' the behaviour of the 'gentlemen of the press' is compared to that of sharks in a feeding frenzy. The press agents will then belatedly attempt to request some 'personal space' for the artists that their own previous machinations have relentlessly pushed into the public's consciousness. In this overcharged atmosphere of hyperbole and over exaggeration even the most mediocre talents are termed 'icons' and their average performances described as 'classic'. This usually means little more than giving the public an indication that the publicity machine has been running on overdrive again.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, much of reggae's output is termed 'reality' music precisely because of the vast gulf that lies between its creators and the fantasy world of the media and it continues to be made under the harshest conditions imaginable. This can, of course, lead to what one noted record producer tellingly termed the 'zinc fence mentality' where stories about and photographs of the Kingston ghettos are used cynically to sell a product abroad. The poverty of many of the music's greatest artists in their early days is truly beyond description and legends of their trials and tribulations go back to the original sound system days where wires, and people, were cut when 'dance crashers' would attempt to gain local supremacy... of singers too young and too small having to stand on orange boxes to reach the studio microphone... of the fierce rivalry between vocal groups escalating into knife fights... of tales of producers paying twenty dollars to the singer of a number one hit or nothing at all or, in some cases, a handful of sweets... of records selling hundreds of thousands of copies and statements for said records stating zero sales... of deals done abroad without the artist's knowledge and of deals where the same tapes were simultaneously licensed to two different companies under different titles... of innumerable confrontations between artists and producers over payment with artists attacking producers and producers attacking artists... of artists famed for their volatility having to intervene as one producer drew a gun on another... of artists locked up in jail... of deportation orders... but always of all the 'best' stories being recounted when the interview tape has stopped running not only from the interviewee's fear of the laws of libel, but also of the more immediate and very real threat of physical retribution.

It is almost impossible to unravel fact from fiction when everyone is honestly convinced that their story is the one real and true account but the substance of the reggae world's innumerable legends are always consistent. They are always about the power of triumphing over adversity, of courage and resolution in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and of having no choice but to deal with a fairly uncomfortable reality. The singers, musicians and producers featured on this compilation have all fought hard in one way or another for the honour of being termed legendary and respect, as they say, is due.

Harry Hawke




Boogie In My Bones
Laurel Aitken
Last Night (I Was Dreaming)
Owen Gray
King Samuel
Justin Hinds & The Dominoes
You're The One I Need
Jimmy Cliff
Knock Out Punch
Don Drummond & The Skatalites
Toots & The Maytals
Ernest Ranglin
Wild And Free
Roland Alphonso & Lyn Taitt
A It Mek
Desmond Dekker & The Aces
Confusion (aka What A Situation)
Slim Smith
Mother Ritty
The Pioneers
Stand By Me
Derrick Morgan
Life Is Down In Denver
Alton Ellis (& The Flames)
Here Comes The Judge
Peter Tosh
Help Me Up
Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths
King Tubby's Special
U Roy
Down By The River
Ken Boothe

The Heptones
In The Mood
Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
Keep On Skanking
Bob Marley
Weekend Cowhead
The Ethiopians
Augustus Pablo
Tenement Yard
Jacob Miller & The Inner Circle
I Don't Want To See You Cry
Delroy Wilson
The Love Of A Woman
Horace Andy
Blessed Dub
King Tubby
Flat Foot Hustling
Four Sevens
Big Youth
Rasta De Master
Tommy McCook
Disco Devil
Lee Perry
Ital Girl
Dennis Alcapone
Standing Ovation
Jackie Mittoo
Blessed Are They
Cornel Campbell
New York City
I Roy

Walls Of Jericho
Freddie McGregor
Different Fashion
Tapper Zukie
Rudie Say Him Bad
The Wailing Souls
Going Downtown
Gregory Isaacs
Dance Hall We Deh
Sugar Minott
For Your Eyes Only
Roots With Quality
Third World
Try A Thing
John Holt
Lost Without You
Dennis Brown
I Create
Black Uhuru
Uni Fe Move
Shabba Ranks
Girl It's Over Now
Wayne Wonder
All Aboard
Sly & Robbie
Good Things
Good Times
Beenie Man
Don't Be Cruel
Chaka Demus & Pliers

Time - 46:46

Time - 56:32

Time - 65:46

All material Copyright Trojan Records