Howler Tracks No. 1: Beyond Bob

Posted on July 2, 2012

While a good iPod full of Bob Marley is arguably all you need to get through the summer months, we like to mix in some Toots Hibbert, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear and others into our reggae playlist.  In order to encourage a little diversity and help you out this summer, here are five reggae records we unanimously recommend.  If you don’t own these, go to Itunes and start hitting “Buy Now”.

Culture – Two Sevens Clash
Culture frontman Joseph Hill is right up there with the biggest icons of reggae and 1976’s “Two Sevens Clash” is his finest work (by only a narrow margin).   Thematically, the record centers on the prediction by Jamaican luminary Marcus Garvey that widespread unrest would come to the Caribbean when the “sevens” united on July 7, 1977.  Accordingly, Hill and Co. weave a little fire and brimstone throughout the fabric of the record but keep it skanky enough to make your head bob.

Bunny Wailer – Blackheart Man
By 1976, the secondary members of Bob Marley’s Wailers, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, seem to recover from the group’s breakup and set about launching their solo careers.  Tosh released probably his best work, “Legalize It”, that year and Bunny Wailer released the deep and melodic “Blackheart Man”.    Both are crucial reggae but “Blackheart Man” may be the one you missed.

Eek-A-Mouse – Wa-Do-Dem
The first time we saw Eek-A-Mouse (aka Ripton Hylton) perform, we were absolutely stunned.  Although we’d listened to the records for years, an actual picture of The Mouse had eluded us and we had somehow formulated an image of him as a skinny little man.   We were WAY wrong.  The Mouse took the stage that night – shirtless and wearing a cowboy hat - looking like a cross between a chiseled NFL linebacker and a cast member for the WWE.  Seeing this 6’6” giant work the stage and spatter his unique style of “singjay” reggae blew our minds.  Eek’s 1981 release “Wa-Do-Dem” is a must have.

Max Romeo & The Upsetters – War Ina Babylon
Yet another release from 1976, Romeo’s “War ina Babylon” is one of the so-called holy trinity of records produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio.  In true Perry fashion, the record has a foundation built on righteous bass lines, gunshot snare drums and skanking guitars but gets a little freaky in all the right places.  Romeo himself contributes some rather bizarre lyrics about fights with the devil, gamblers that drive ramblers and weed that grows seeds.

Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse
A boat captain we once met in Turks and Caicos called Isaacs’ music “baby making reggae”.   Although we probably would not have used exactly those words, we think it is a pretty good description of the chill and sultry sound that earned Isaacs the nickname the “Lonely Lover”.    “Night Nurse” is Isaacs’ best known and, arguably, his best record.

Howler Tracks No. 1:  Beyond Bob - iTunes Playlist
We have gathered 20 of our favorites from the albums above and beyond for your listening pleasure. Check them out here: