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The Specials - Stupid Marriage

Classic 2Tone sound of English Ska

00:00 / 03:50

Reggae Roots

This style of beat grew in Jamaica; Black slaves were not allowed to make music and all their instruments taken from them. But they still wanted to make a musical sound so used whatever they could, tools, bits of wood, hollow tree trunks etc and reggae was born. Some say Ska came first, but reggae historian Steve Barrow says Ska came from Prince Buster who told his guitarist to 'change gear man, change gear', and by emphasising the second and fourth beats in the bar Ska was born. Duke Reid also produced a Ska sound (mid 1950's) from localised Mento music.

These styles remained underground sounds for years, and only became known to the rest of the world after the arrival of Pirate Radio, Radio Caroline being the first but that's another subject. Desmond Dekka and the Aces led the way forward, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley helped its successful launch, Madness and the Specials with 2Tone records helped prolong its reign.

UB40 became the most successful band in this field, and there are many classics through the decades; Althea and Donna's uptown Top Rankin', Madness with Night Boat to Cairo, Beats international's Dub Be Good To Me, Shaggy and Oh Carolina, the list goes on, even Lily Alan's first offering had a reggae based backing.

And Notting Hill Carnival (Sound Clash, another subject) has become the biggest street festival in Europe.

Also Pete Waterman (of Stock Aitkin and Waterman the biggest producers of all time) did his part by being probably the only DJ to have his finger on the pulse of new sounds out of Jamaica at the time (late 60's). Lee Scratch Perry (our engineer does work for Mr. Perry's keyboards man Spider), King Tubby, Duke Reid, Bob Marly who'd turned away from Ska and was focusing on Reggae by now, and many more artists.

Althea & Donna--Uptown Top Ranking. Top tune and the man with the plan behind this was Declan MacManus...I believe he signed his first cheque in the name he is better known as for this duo; Elvis Costello.

Althea and Donna's addictive reggae rythm tune from 1978, their only hit song. How could they have followed this colossal floorfiller with something better to keep them in the spotlight! Somewhat impossibe.

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