Trojan Records is 50 years old this year. It was the label that, together with Island Records (founded a decade earlier in 1958), introduced first ska, then reggae, to Britain. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, a new film, Rudeboy, has been released. It is, as the blurb says, ‘a film about the origins and ongoing love affair between Jamaican and British youth culture’. It’s a wonderful film, and an even better soundtrack. And it got me delving back into my old ska, bluebeat and early reggae collection. Here, I’ve pulled out some of my favourite tracks from the 1960s charting the development of ska to the threshold of reggae. Not all are Trojan recordings. Other labels, most notably Blue Beat Records, put out some terrific tracks, too (including most of Prince Buster’s work), though their records are almost impossible to get hold of these days. The tracks are in chronological order. I decided only one track per band or singer (or else I might have filled the list with Toots and the Maytals). And for those who may be wondering, the title of the post is taken from the lyrics of Prince Buster’s Madness.
Stranger Cole, Ruff and Tuff (1962)
Don Drummond, Bellevue Special (1964)
Prince Buster, One Step Beyond (1964)
The Skatalites, Ghost Town (1965)
Bob Marley & the Wailers, Bend Down Low (1966)
Dandy Livingstone, Rudy A Message To You (1967)
Toots and the Maytals, Pressure Drop (1968)
Girl Satchmo, I’m Coming Home (1969)
Desmond Dekker & the Aces, Israelites (1969)
The Melodians, Rivers of Babylon (1970)
The top image is from the film Rudeboy.