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“Dolby’s Top 100 Ska and Reggae Songs of All Time”

100 Mikey Dread – “Positive Reality”

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This was a really impressive arrangement I thought from the big, sophisticated sax part and the honest, raspy-voiced lyrics: Mikey Dread comes at us out of Jamaica, ’70s and ’80s and seems to always somehow get brushed under the carpet of fame, recommended to me thankfully by a friend of late.

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99 Wayne Smith – “Like a Dragon”

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Wayne Smith was a Jamaican chap credited with introducing the digital era in popular, radio reggae, and by whom I’ve really never heard a bad song, this one featuring his usual effortless vocal delivery and ability to unleash a gauntlet of lyrics within very few bars.

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98 Burning Spear – “African Dub”

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Here is Burning Spear doing his best Mad Professor impression, you might say, with the broken, spliced snare drums and the intermittent, irregular guitar strands. The horns grant this track a nice ambience, overall, and it’s nice to have some more hands at the dub party, for some stoned good times.

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97 Less than Jake – “Sugar in Your Gas Tank”

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Gainseville, Florida’s Less than Jake will forever be one of my favorite bands — there’s no denying the authenticity and honesty of Chris Demakes and as this song points out, the band had as much of a knack for melody as their ska cohorts like Reel Big Fish and the Bosstones.

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96 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Exodus”

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Yeah it’s basically just about malcontentedness on the parts of minorities and the chorus isn’t THAT memorable, but man listening to this stuff on digital you just marvel before the instrumentation alone, which features weeping guitar, funky organ, overarching horns and most importantly this incredibly booming bass, which gives the song an awesome contemporary feel which is almost kind of urban, to assimilate to these times in which we currently live.

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95 Reel Big Fish – “Down in Flames”

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Growing up listening to this album I was almost kind of like SCARED at the palpable level of pessimism emanating from lead singer Aaron Barrett — he was like so frighteningly disenchanted with the world that he‟d learned to channel this hopelessness into something funny, poppy and most amazingly, PEPPY, this the last exuberant anthem on the band’s patchily awe-inspiring Why Do They Rock So Hard? album.

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94 Sublime – “Caress Me down”

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I have to say that when I first heard this song I was completely floored by a lot of things about it — the graphically racy content, the incest factor, and of course just the awesome music complete with some good ol’ funk courtesy of bassist Eric Wilson. Oh, reggae ain‟t reggae without the funk… don’t even trip.

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93 Peter Tosh – “African”

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I mean geez this song is just so WARM that even listening to it sitting here as a white dude, I mean I don’t wanna say I IDENTIFY with it, but I’m just pleased that it’s there, and you can‟t help but enjoy this music with the awesome production and warm guitar sound, and this chord change that‟s the singular work of some artistic vision in itself, as well.

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92 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “I’ll Drink to That”

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Right away on this ’92 album More Noise and Other Disturbances, this band showcases its blistering tightness, the bass always in lockstep with the drums to anchor the melodies which are often picked up by the horn section, as they are here. This cut in particular has a way of seeming to languish for a while, only to explode into a tense and astonishing key change for a chorus full of turns and tugs.

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91 Jimmy Cliff – “When You’re Young”

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As somebody who’s 35, I listen to this song obviously with a grain of salt, but in another way it also seems perfect too — anyway it‟s way less preachy than most of that live-it-up-while-you can, carpe diem crap we typically hear, the platitudes of which are of course outlined brilliantly in the Phish song “Character Zero.”

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90 Easy Star All-Stars – “No Surprises”

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I still remember copping this Radiodread disc at the Borders bookstore in downtown Indianapolis in about ’06 or ’07, when it was still open, and having it soon become my favorite stoned music on the planet. In the case of this original version it’s one of my favorite Radiohead songs and music videos as well, this reggae rendition then not taking away from its melodic gravity one bit.

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89 Sublime – “Pawn Shop”

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Admittedly, this one’s sort of an album track, and even with my decreased marijuana consumption in recent years this is still one of my favorite stoned tunes. It’s got the funk and also a fervent element of the blues, which is an impressive fusion of styles for the band’s final album, all the while with that upbeat-guitar reggae interface that ingratiates it to this list.

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88 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Waiting in Vain”

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Jesus I’m going to sound like an a**hole here, a gringo trying to talk about Bob Marley, the veritable godfather of reggae and progenitor of musician offspring like Damian Marley, etc… but anyway here I think we find him sounding particularly vulnerable, as would be suggested by the “Tears in my eyes / Girl” lines, which is a substantial talking point in and of itself, I guess.

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87 Reel Big Fish – “You Don’t Know”

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That CHORD PROGRESSION is what to me is just so infectious about this song — it’s so incredibly simple that it sort of reminds me of something off of Suicide Machines – Destruction by Definition, kind of, but yet it’s these apolitical juggernauts of animosity who have nothing better to do than sit around and go “If you don‟t like it / Why don‟t you go shove your head back up you‟re a**”, and meanwhile I don‟t think any of us are particularly complaining.

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86 Mustard Plug – “Miss Michigan”

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There were those scoundrels all the time (actually my Less than Jake-loving friend thought they were from South Bend) from a mere 100 miles north in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a sort of semi-sh**hole town where I also lived for a brief spell in my youth… it’s funny how unacquainted you can be with something like this so geographically close to you and culturally relevant to your tastes when you‟re growing up, but low and behold this whole Evildoers Beware! album is pretty much classic.

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85 Less than Jake – “9th at Pine”

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As is all of our favorite music, I think, this third track on Less than Jake’s underrated breakthrough Losing Streak is firmly attached in my memory to the scenes in which I initially fell in love with it, which was this incredibly snowy winter up in my hometown in high school — the lively, confrontational subject matter depicted provided a much-needed escape for me into a mindset that was infinitely more vital, and more importantly, more fun, too.

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84 Peter Tosh – “Legalize it”

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Well I must say I feel pretty da** ripped off at this point, having grown up in the humdrum, Bible-thumping ’90s and gotten in trouble for pot early on in the ’00s all to today see it legal and my interest in the drug all but null… anyhow this was an influential enough moment MUSICALLY, becoming a stoner theme song of sorts and of course giving way to a couple Sublime cover type thingies, from what I remember.

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83 Mad Professor – “The African Connection”

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“Futuristic” was sort of Mad Professor’s middle name all the time, the Guyanese-British dub composer responsible for introducing the “electronic” filament to reggae as we currently know it, so to follow up his astonishing and jolting debut album Dub Me Crazy!, he could have only concocted these nonsensical, distorted sounds, which then give way to beautiful instrumental reggae music which seems to both mimic nature with bird calls and also mourn its penchant for placing black people in such a place as it did.

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82 Black Uhuru – “There is Fire”

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It‟s funky, it’s somehow mystical but perhaps most importantly this act just seems quintessentially BLACK, out of this Jamaican group that amazingly never moved into the States but still boasts like five different record labels (one of which yes is the Jamaican-leaning Island).

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81 Fishbone – “A Movement in the Light”

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Hmm, just upon listening to this cut once again I realized, though it’s funky, it’s technically ska OR reggae, emanating as it does nonetheless from basically the godfathers of ska (not to be confused with Bob Marley, the godfather of reggae, which is like ska played by your grandparents, slowed down and on Quaaludes).

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80 Sublime – “Under My Voodoo”

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Yeah, but that Eric Wilson coat… sorry Eric Wilson is far and away my favorite member of Sublime, as this track will certainly justify with its overall busy soundscape, its prominent placement in the undeniably astonishing segment of this album but most importantly that preternatural bassline that makes you no way believe it‟s even a white dude playing it.

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79 Jimmy Cliff – “Struggling Man”

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I remember this track came on sort of late within some Jimmy Cliff greatest hits CD I had on (I don’t think it’s on Spotify) and it sort of struck me as one of those numbers that, though pretty poppy and universally accessible, was meant to appeal to minorities, except there I was, completely bald and a low-paid line cook with questionable self-esteem, so it kind of applied to me too. Overall, I don‟t think you can say enough about this guy’s genuineness and heart, the ability to speak for the everyman and be one, consistently, as well.

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78 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Satisfy My Soul”

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This was inevitably the “cooler” of the two love songs toward the end of Bob Marley’s hits collection Legend, which was what I always used to spin until I came around to Bob Marley & the Wailers – Live! Hey, it doesn‟t have that lugubrious “Tears in my eyes / Girl” declaration, which should help with that, and I always liked the ambiguity at work with not rocking his boat but still satisfying his soul… it‟s funny how weird tension like that can come in handy sometimes.

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77 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “A Sad Silence”

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This ’94 Bosstones album Question the Answers, which has the awesome cover art of a yellow background and a cop car painted in Impressionist blurriness, is in kind of a funny position because although it is a full-blown band effort (I hesitate to say it’s their BEST but it’s probably in the top three), it came around when the world was still ruled by grunge pretty much unilaterally, so this type of thing, while major label, still would have been treated like something underground, or counterculture. “A Sad Silence” is the classic track-two reflective tale of dour humanity, a terrible case of playground bullying and the surrounding people‟s inability, or unwillingness, to do anything about it.

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76 Burning Spear – “Dub Creation”

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Right up there with Black Uhuru, Burning Spear certainly has some of the best instrumentation in reggae’s spicy history, here piping in with some incredibly funky bass and the upbeat stabs courtesy of a really punchy organ that almost sounds like a guitar, something that can emit really clear notes with almost no unnecessary sonic dawdling or languishing.

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75 Mustard Plug – “Suburban Homesick Blues”

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My favorite part about Mustard Plug is that, although they don’t play as fast as Less than Jake, they have this frenetic way of letting the horns just TAKE OVER the songs and declare that this is true ska/punk all the way, not some group of moshers just imitating Bradley Nowell on the guitar here and there.

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74 Lily Allen – “Nan You’re a Window Shopper”

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Lily Allen was the British flavor-of-the-week pop diva in ’08 who I think stumbled on a really good team of producers for her debut Alright, Still, which gave it this festive reggae element to infuse it with a unique sense of rhythm and of course probably offset some of the maudlin, though pertinent, life observations Allen was making all over this LP.

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73 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Burnin’ and Lootin'”

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Again, like with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones album, one thing I notice about a lot of these installments is the phenomenon of a slow-burning buzz generating itself over them, where the record might have been released to little attention or general apathy but then by development of that counterculture, and through unorthodox avenues, eventually reached more and more ears. This is that always-handy nice-guy‟s-really-not-so-nice-anymore cut on the excellent Bob Marley & the Wailers – Live!

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72 Reel Big Fish – “She’s Famous Now”

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To be honest I went like nine or so years without listening to Why Do They Rock So Hard?, then put it back in and I couldn‟t BELIEVE how awesome these introductory horn riffs were — it was almost like a depressing jolt back into how well developed popular music had been in the ’90s compared to a lot of stuff I‟d been hearing the prior decade, a statement risking sounding like an angry old geezer, of course.

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71 Toots & the Maytals – “Funky Kingston”

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An almost underwhelming reggae romp for most of the way, “Funky Kingston” blossoms into something pretty memorable for Toots Hibbert’s midway digression into James Brown-like grunts, the music devolving into a sort of drum break like thing for some dumb and fun celebration.

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70 Fishbone – “Lemon Meringue”

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Fishbone in general is just a really good entity with which to familiarize yourself — they’re LA’s 1980s godfathers of ska, a group of black dudes with this brilliant lead singer Angelo Moore who also writes conscious poetry, sometimes reciting bits of it at the end of a concert. Yeah, this is just a song about liking a white chick. I guess there’s that element, too.

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69 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Iron Lion Zion”

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The set of sounds that propel this number you’d have to say are pretty unparalleled, that celestial saxophone belting out the main riff in the solo all over that velvety Hammond organ (a personal favorite instrument of mine, a huge Fastball fan). Zion is a word, as best I can surmise it, to denote a region encompassing of “mount of olives” in or around modern day Jerusalem which was taken over by the Jews 3,000 years ago.

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68 Peter Tosh – “Get up, Stand up”

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Credited with co-writing “Get up, Stand up” along with Bob Marley, Tosh belts out a version that while similar, wielding the same rough tempo, chord progression and lyrics, contains this vocal disposition that to me is sort of more intimidating, sort of like he’s the Malcolm X to Marley’s MLK, if you will.

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67 Sublime – “Garden Grove”

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Oh Gosh, who beeth the most qualified astute out there to pontificate on Sublime’s unwieldy, uproarious discography — why, he closest to heroin overdose of course, in which case I hope it’s not me, so I will in this case incompetently state that this is the opener on their best album and what like I say before is probably my favorite stoned album, with that hilarious list of things that really pi** him off delivered vocally midway through.

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66 Mad Professor – “Tumble down”

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My favorite thing about Mad Professor is just the way the songs keep continuing to morph and change within themselves, with this one in particular starting off with the simple advice to slow down in life, and not be greedy, then disintegrating beautifully into this dub jungle of piano, saxophone and horn, to set your mind reeling.

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65 Less than Jake – “Happyman”

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This is an interesting installment number two on Less than Jake’s so-fun-it-should-be-illegal ’96 album Losing Streak — it takes the same blueprint as track one stylistically, of ska-punk played at unmatched, blistering speed, the lyrics here turning from the introspective outward, maybe condemning the person who tries to enter a readymade state of happiness instead of the willing polymorphous and constant change, which is more the inevitable way of things.

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64 Rancid – “Old Friend”

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This Rancid album …And out Come the Wolves is really a unique document of pop-rock mania, partly I think that although it does ape Tim Armstrong’s former band Operation Ivy in style, it‟s somehow BETTER, maybe for having been able to channel Nirvana and Green Day as influences, I dunno. “Old Friend” is a rare ska aberration midway through this generally punk-borne squall, with Armstrong pouring on the melodies and machismo like he has every right to, apparently.

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63 Mustard Plug – “Box”

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I think what’s proved by the opener on Evildoers Beware! is just how effortless this stuff is for Mustard Plug and how they were really born to do what they did, able to rock out with good muscle at the very start, then to scatter seemingly by cellular diffusion into their distinct parts for the ska groove, which almost seems like Less than Jake and weed and Xanax, again for the effortlessness.

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62 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Where’d You Go”

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A proud component of the major motion picture Clueless soundtrack (which is actually pretty decent overall, with Supergrass on in and whatnot), this early ’92 Bosstones cut mixes a musical attitude and tension with a lyrical vulnerability and nice-guy shrug, which was sort of one of Dicky Barrett’s trademarks, or skills, all the while.

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61 Mad Professor – “Roots Land”

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WHOA is this sh** trippy, with that warbly guitar sound on the up beats that comes in completely unexpectedly, those crazy, oblong, sampled female background vocals (which come in the wake of no foreground vocals, somehow, mind you) and that drum sound with that reverb that seems to carry all the way to this guy’s next freakin’ album, which I think came in 1984, appropriately enough.

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60 Goldfinger – “King for a Day”

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This was definitely a mixtape (yes, “tape”) staple of mine in high school, this caustic multi-pronged pop-rock attack that starts out reggae for the first two verses with brutally honest vocals from the great John Feldmann, only to rev up into this kinetically forceful punk rock-out for the song‟s second half, emaciating all of the tension that brought these feelings about in the first place.

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59 Fishbone – “Party at Ground Zero”

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“Party at Ground Zero” tips off the highly recommended The Essential Fishbone (which fits concisely onto one single CD) and does it in style, setting the crazy romping rolling with an entertaining grab-bag spanning from reggae to ska to punk and of course the great lines “Johnny go get your gun / ‟Cause the commies are in our hemisphere today”.

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58 Sublime – “Wrong Way”

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Geez, I feel like showering just THINKING about these lyrics… Bradley Nowell certainly didn’t pull any punches when it came to creative depravity, but anyway this song stands are probably Sublime’s biggest ska hit single, where they crank the speed up a little bit and show us their predilection for moving your feet.

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57 Black Uhuru – “I Love King Salassie”

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A notable Ethiopian ruler of the 20th century, Haile Sellasie is revered by black men around the world apparently (including Nas) for his “internationalist” and “multilateral” political strategies, the type of thing that you’d think would discourage imperial conflict and brutality. Here again, Black Uhuru aligns itself as a leading political figure in classic reggae.

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56 Blondie – “The Tide is High”

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Then, we go to this little girl from New York who just had an aching heart, but a BIG OL’ aching heart capable of baring itself and unfurling all of these honest tapestries from her doomed love life. Can we call late-’70s New York a “punk” scene? Well, I guess it‟s fun to, and this music is definitely fun, so you can say that about it.

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55 Reel Big Fish – “Brand New Song”

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My favorite part about this song, other than that it’s a classic, energetic track two and features another absolutely awesome horn riff and the title isn’t sung in the lyrics is that it starts out like a freakin’ Silverchair song or something, all minor chords and no trumpets, then devolves into very much not being a Silverchair song, which I’m quite pleased about.

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54 Mad Professor – “Rasta Chase”

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Things are coming just a tad bit differently here on Dub Me Crazy 4: Escape to the Asylum of Dub (a domicile which seems to be frequented by the one and only Spider-Man, among others), with music that strives to be as conceptual as it does textural, and anti-war sampled female vocal temporally preceded by the usual dub groove, framed more politically than before.

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53 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Noise Brigade”

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Here, you might say, is where the magic started happening, where ska really infiltrated the popular mainstream on the Bosstones ’97 album Let’s Face it and while sacrificing none of the stylistic integrity, this zeitgeist finally seemed like it could apply to everyone and maybe for a couple years, eclectic, fun music could take the place of hate and calamity, the world over.

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52 Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros – “Get down Moses”

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To be honest, though on one hand it‟s objectively a success what with Pearl Jam starting their Live on Ten Legs album with a cover of “Arms aloft,” it’s still hard for me to formulate an opinion of complete soundness on Strummer’s album Streetcore here, because of the vociferous, emphatic praise it’s got from some people I’ve talked to. Anyway, this project seems drug-fueled to an entertaining extent, as well as geographically off-kilter, naming Tennessee as its locale, which is probably a great place for a trip, too, as it were.

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51 Goldfinger – “Answers”

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This to me is an essential album for anyone who wants to know ’90s pop-punk (talkin’ ’bout The Offspring, Green Day, Rancid, Blink-182, etc.), the highest ranking song off of it here having again that sneer of brutal honesty, and even tackling the issue of people who try to sidestep the truth within the lyrics — yeah I guess he’s kind of a hippie, what with his endorsement of free thinking and annihilation of social boundaries, and all that good stuff.

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50 The Suicide Machines – “Break the Glass”

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This is sort of a funny song title to me because at the time when I was listening to Destruction by Definition a lot I was actually sort of a destructive person, prone to vandalism (mostly teepeeing and egging) and a little petty larceny… anyway I definitely always thought this song was really underrated — I think it‟s too intense of a ska-punk roller coaster for some people out there (ahem, squares).

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49 Easy Star All Stars – “Electioneering”

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Wow, it‟s hard to imagine much more of a 180 in mood than that from this skating music over to Radiohead… again this Radiodread album has been pretty important to me for more than 10 years and this is one of the installments I thought worked pretty well, slowed down and made swampy and sassy, with pithy, intermittent horns, from the original.

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48 Sublime – “Jailhouse”

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Rarely isolated from full-album listening or spurred into “single” status, despite that it’s pretty catchy, “Jailhouse” is typically a notable high point for those taking in the entire Sublime self-titled LP, with a languid, infectious reggae groove, and compelling stream-of-consciousness storytelling ability by Bradley Nowell.

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47 Jimmy Cliff – “You Can Get it if You Really Want”

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Hey, here’s one of those songs everybody probably knows but nobody knows the singer of, and in general Jimmy Cliff’s path to stardom is sort of curious, what with being so bound up in a movie, The Harder They Come, which could actually ironically be a way of AVOIDING imagistic frill which would otherwise attach itself to your musical career. But maybe I’m wrong. It’s a good song either way.

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46 Mad Professor – “Ankoko”

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A staple of the Professor’s early stuff here, “Ankoko” has this charming, primitive interface, with the upbeat stabs coming I believe courtesy of a back-played piano recording (a re-recording), and as seemingly always just enough flair like wild drum fills and sporadic key changes to keep this stuff fresh.

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45 Fishbone – “Cholly”

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Sometimes I think this stuff is so PC and good-vibes oriented, and then they hit me with “Cholly,” this crazy reggae party celebrating… I think… the glory of fat girls, or something like that? Or is the fatness of this particular individual just pertinent? Or did they just eat a lot of shrooms and smoke a lot of buddha in the studio? That must be the one.

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44 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “He** of a Hat”

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“He** of a Hat” comes on Question the Answers’ classic side a and like “A Sad Silence” spins a sour, ominous tale, stretching in this case from playground fights out to gun violence, a dude in this pimp’s hat in the club garnering the question from Dicky Barrett “Why you gotta pack the heat?”

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43 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Stir it up”

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This is one of those delightful songs that it SEEMS like has been covered a million times but either way should definitely be a staple of everybody’s music-listening pool… I would have put it first but that would have almost been like an uncomfortable endorsement of blessed-out rapture, the type of thing that would probably lead to quite the let-down in real life, eventually, I’m guessing.

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42 Bruce Cockburn – “Rumours of Glory”

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One thing I like about Canada’s Bruce Cockburn, among many, is that you can almost always understand his lyrics — he’s got this unmistakable, everyman sort of voice that comes across crystal-clear. Of course, this would seem to present a problem when you get to the quandary of there being a finite amount of things that people actually WANT TO HEAR, so he takes certain semantic and metaphorical liberties on this creative foray into reggae, for you to enjoy.

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41 Mad Professor – “Bucket Brigade”

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More classic reggae shmooze off of the instructor‟s timeless debut Dub Me Crazy!, “Bucket Brigade” just hits me as the epicenter of this accomplished, blissful brand of reggae that‟s perfect for summer, like barbecues, or more appropriately, sitting there stoned and staring out your window.

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40 Less Than Jake – “Automatic”

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This first leg of what’s in my mind a staple 4×100 meter relay kicks off the kinetic, blistering Losing Streak, proving that nobody else played ska as fast, or as good, as Gainesville, Florida’s one and only Less than Jake. I think Less than Jake curates an annual Gainseville festival where they charge almost nothing for their set and promote a bunch of local talent, but there‟s almost no coverage of this sh**, plus one time I met this dude who literally bought a ticket to a Less than Jake concert in order to give Chris Demakes the middle finger.

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39 Long Beach Dub Allstars – “Rolled up”

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To be honest I almost forgot this song and band entirely, since although it‟s two members of Sublime it’s not typically the bass guitar work that jumps out about this particular cut… I think what made me remember it is the nicer, sunnier weather coming around and my memories of 2000 when this unit was together and the Warped Tour and Q101Jamboree featured a lot of the same bands. I doubt that will ever happen again.

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38 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Could You Be Loved”

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Unusually upbeat and galloping for a Marley number, this song features prominently in the VH1 “Behind the Music” (which was actually really good, too), pertaining to the trip to Jamaica that Bradley Nowell’s dad took him on, hence turning him on to reggae music.

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37 Peter Tosh – “Downpressor Man”

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In the continuing reggae spirit of bridging gaps and lamenting “them belly full but we hungry” sentiment, “Downpressor Man” seems to just make subject of those who own wealth and practice social hegemony, drawing on images of the book of Revelations and asserting that one day the first shall be last and the last shall be first, like Killah Priest said, too.

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36 The Police – “Walking on the Moon”

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You could say that the fact that it’s basically impossible to tell what this song is about is either a blessing, or a curse, depending on how you look at it — one thing‟s for sure, it’s white music influenced by black music, but pretty good at that, not in the least for the manufacture of a positive, revelatory chorus out of all that minor-chord tension in the verses.

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35 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Three Little Birds”

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Boy Doug Martsch and company SWOOPED IN on this one for that charmer “You Were Right” didn’t they… well that just shows you the power of Marley’s words here, so potent that they perhaps didn’t even need quite as much musical depth to accompany them as a couple of other tracks by the master (but that remains to be seen now doesn’t it).

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34 Sublime – “Burritos”

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Get stoned and listen to this bassline on headphones, I’m tellin’ you: it’s one of the best low-register runs ever put to wax, with this spellbinding combination of sustained notes and staccato. Also as I state this is the astonishing portion of this album… I’m a huge “The Ballad of Johnny Butt” fan too.

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33 XTC – “Wait Till Your Boat Goes down”

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And now we come to the touching Valentine’s Day portion of this list, where you tell a girl she’s gonna get fat and the wheels of her life are going to fall off, at which point she‟s going to come running back to you… in all serious this band is like so fun it should be illegal, and all their major singles, including this one, seem in some way distinct.

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32 Wayne Smith – “Icky All over”

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The second-highest ranking Wayne Smith ditty on this list, this one doesn’t lose too much off of the first one, again the verbosity sticking out in the listener‟s mind along with vaguely sexual content another undeniably catchy chorus.

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31 Toots & the Maytals – “Pressure Drop”

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Somehow it’s weird but I can never seem to find on Spotify interfaces of the best-of CD’s I used to have, like my one of Jimmy Cliff or of these guys, whereon “Pressure Drop” featured prominently as a catchy and memorable number. I never could tell what he was saying at the beginning though… “Hippie jew”?

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30 The Suicide Machines – “No Face”

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I don’t think you’ll find any song that encapsulates the “pop-punk” side of this ’90s zeitgeist better than this one, an anti-violence call to arms and awareness that might to an extent justify how staunchly and maybe belligerently anti-drugs/grunge/Chris Cornell this band sometimes was.

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29 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Get up, Stand up”

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Despite the fact that Marley cowrote this one with Peter Tosh and that Tosh is often the hipster pick for superior of the two musicians (I don’t mean to imply that I’m not a hipster, in other sectors), I put this one ahead — to me there‟s more personality in Bob Marley’s voice, more emotion, and the instrument playing is a little looser. They had more fun? Yeah, maybe.

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28 The Clash – “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais”

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This track comes from the band’s self-titled debut but I first remember it from my The Singles disc, a collection of amazingly eclectic variety consider the nature of the document. 311 tried their hand at this tune at one point and in general it seems to unflinchingly tackle race issues and of course, a style of music that was still pretty new to whities at this time.

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27 Mustard Plug – “You”

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About 15 seconds into this to this tune, it should be obvious why I positioned it the highest among Mustard Plug opuses on this puppy — there’s that snazzy and awesome technique of slowing the drum beat down by one half while retaining the same guitar-strumming speed (I wonder what you call that actually) and there’s the ingratiating set of lyrics that seem so entrenched in enticing relationship matters, but it’s all nothing compared to that powerful, anthemic chorus.

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26 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Trenchtown Rock”

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We’re getting to the point in this list where a lot of these puppies were picked up by coverers (two-thirds Sublime, one-third any band other than Sublime) and you guessed it the Long Beach rockers did try their hand at this one, to commendable results, really: removing the percussion and replacing it with this gentle, warbly electric guitar strum (non-reggae)… and actually I’ve seen Umphrey’s play this live to but this original version will always be sovereign, the album opener on Bob Marley & the Wailers – Live!

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25 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “The Rascal King”

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Earlier for my “Noise Brigade” mini-blurb I state that this Let’s Face it album by the Bosstones was a sort of landmark moment in ska/punk when its popularity really became undeniable and fully submerged itself in the general consciousness of the mainstream. “The Rascal King,” I think, takes things even further: it transforms its own musical camp into something more textural and hypnotic than most things even of its kind, with these gentle, almost nudging vocals barely peppering the peppy soundscape of melodic romping, the kind of thing that almost qualifies as hippie-ish by today‟s standards (although we certainly never would have said that back then).

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24 Jimmy Cliff – “Vietnam”

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Here comes a very sad song from Mr. Cliff about a war victim and a letter of tragedy sent to the victim’s mother, all set to these bright major chords like a reggae version of ’80s post-punk, where the subject matter is concrete and political instead of being metaphoric.

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23 Peter Tosh – “Equal Rights”

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What’s amazing about this cut you could say is how Peter Tosh’s generally intimidating genus of songs takes such a calm, calculated form: in declaring “I don’t want no peace / I want equal rights and justice”, he’s equally coming across as a singer very content in the shoes of his own art, a man who doesn‟t have to yell to get his point across, because he possesses that much confidence and has that large of an impact.

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22 Toots & the Maytals – “Monkey Man”

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It‟s rebellion, but it‟s peaceful and loving, not overly aggressive and vitriolic like Rage against the Machine. Well, I’m a huge Rage against the Machine fan and there’s probably something to be said for both sides of the dichotomy. Anyway, here we see Toots Hibbert’s creative flair for getting point across, with the animal reference, but more importantly the band’s uncanny knack for retaining your attention with a groove that lays itself down and basically doesn‟t change at all for four minutes.

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21 Sublime – “Get Ready”

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I have to say whether stoned or just playing video games I’d get ENSCONCED in this album to where I lost track of it: well that “Some folks say that smokin’ herb is a crime” line was always a jolt back to consciousness and perhaps why I ranked this one so high. There’s also the fact that he gets so white-boy gangsta and somehow doesn’t come across as ridiculous or wi**er-ish, something probably nobody nowadays could pull off.

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20 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “All Things Considered”

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The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ 2000 album Pay Attention marked a slight downturn in tempos and rambunctiousness factor, but the inspiration and meaning were still there in full force, perhaps even more so as we here examine the overall human comedy and a 30-something sympathizing with an elderly who tells false stories about his childhood: “All things considered / What he’s telling us isn’t hurting anyone”. It’s an absolutely sublime, astonishing number, right down to the structural intricacy thrown into the last verse… I can‟t say enough about how much I love this song.

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19 Toots & the Maytals – “54-46, That‟s My Number”

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Here’s another song covered by Sublime… what a shocker! Well maybe I was too much of a bratty, punk kid in the ’90s, like memorizing Sublime’s discography here, anyway I think this was the opener on my Toots greatest hits CD I used to have, and it was every bit the worthily positioned too, with its spirited tale of doing time and its catchy chorus.

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18 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “No Woman, No Cry”

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Ya know it hadn’t even occurred to me prior that this song might not actually BE reggae — there are no up-beat guitar or organ stabs, that is, but hey it is by Bob Marley and that up-beat snare presence is sort of an unorthodox wrinkle, which you might say mimics reggae atonally (maybe that was even part of their strategy there). Another interesting thing I just noticed about this song is that the original studio version is actually faster, and the one that made it onto Legend is in fact that same live run-through that graced Bob Marley & the Wailers – Live!, as far as I can tell.

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17 Mad Professor – “Your Rights/My Rights”

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This is the highest ranking cut from his degree-holding heir on this list and you’ve gotta love its M.O.: let the guitar handle the bounce, give some horns the melody, lay down a steady beat that go on to probably serve some rap groups the next few years, and just let it rip with a sassy, sneering riff that would serve the whole song through. “Your Rights/My Rights” is the first tune on Mad Professor’s infectious first album, Dub Me Crazy!

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16 Black Uhuru – “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner”

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I have to admit that, as dorky as it is, I did take a class called “Rock Music in the 70s and 80s” at Indiana University and this song was actually part of the curriculum, dealing as it does with the theme of being a black dude romantically interested in a white woman, something in which Fishbone seems to almost accidentally immerse itself, as well. Of partially interesting note too (aside the fact that the movie really sucks) is that Guess Who? with Ashton Kutcher is supposedly meant as a response to this song and original movie from the ’60s, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, except that Kutcher’s character was white and dating a black girl, attempting to ingratiate to a black family.

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15 Fishbone – “Skankin’ to the Beat”

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I used to have really weird dreams, which you might say are the only kind of dreams, one of which had me commissioning this ska festival in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, the other of which for some reason saw fit to tell me that this was the best song on The Essential Fishbone — it’s sort of easy to gloss over anyway just for its conventional style and disposition, and predictably fast tempo. But remember, they were basically the first to ever to this stuff, or to fuse it so kinetically with punk as they did.

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14 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Royal Oil”

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I have to say I’ve heard this song like a million times, but it’s still fun, my premiere Bosstones selection for this post and that catchy chorus that just seems to shoot out of the speakers talking about this strange stuff called “royal oil.”

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13 Niney the Observer – “Blood and Fire”

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This is really just a great tune, with a great vocal and basically just two chords relied upon, but a vocal so distinct and full of gravity that PJ Harvey would borrow it (and excellently so) for the song “Written on the Forehead” off her 2011 album Let England Shake. Remember, Harvey was on Island Records, so probably associated herself by default with a lot of Jamaican artists.

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12 Burning Spear – “Calling Rastafari”

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This song opens up with pretty conventional instrumentation and overall reggae rubric, but then those vocals come in and they’re just so sublime, the work of a true professional who knows he’s speaking the good word and doesn’t have to lunge into gimmick or anything uncomfortable to convey his art. Interestingly, I just noticed that this is actually an album’s title track.

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11 The Clash – “Bankrobber”

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“Bankrobber” is another cut I first came across on my The Singles disc I must have burned from the library way back in the day — it’s a beautiful and strange creation which definitely makes that album worth it, especially since it doesn’t appear on any of their proper studio LP’s.

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10 Toots & the Maytals – “Alidina

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It certainly seems like if it wasn‟t for bad luck then reggae visionary Toots Hibbert wouldn’t have had no luck at all, seeing as all of his songs seem to be about some sort of atrocity, either worldly or personal, this one coming in the form of this “Alidina” person who‟s both “lazy” and “crazy” but still apparently so interwoven into his life that he had to go and write a song about her.

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9 Peter Tosh – “Steppin’ Razor”

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Sublime cover alert (sorry… I really have no idea if that’s important or not). This is a very catchy song, which, seeing as it seems to be about preparing to stab somebody, is sort of troubling, you’d have to admit — my personal favorite part might be that bit at the end when he combines all of the things he embodies into one verbal smear of gibberish. Eh, he’s getting his point across anyway… that’s for sure.

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8 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Lively up Yourself”

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Now here’s a song which ironically to me seems like a great BLUEPRINT of a song but could theoretically spawn a cover version to surpass the strength of the original. I always found the original studio version a little sluggish but the pressing that gets done for Live! generally does the trick, with some gorgeous background vocals and of course that infectious, upbeat message.

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7 Rancid – “Time Bomb”

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I used to work with all Mexicans in this one kitchen and they would play this radio show where the talking would be all in Spanish but then they’d choose certain American songs that they really liked and play them, and if you can believe it this is one of them. It’s sort of like “Skankin’ to the Beat” in that it’s so conventionally bound to the overall style in DNA that it’s easy to forget how fun it actually is to listen to.

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6 Wayne Smith – “Under Me Sleng Teng”

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Fabled as the mid-’80s introduction of a reggae hit with a programmed beat (actually it’s the only once since then either, that I can think of off the top of my head), “Under Me Sleng Teng” is actually meant to represent the words “slang tongue,” just done up in funky dialect and skewed in classic pop form. The song has many entertaining moments, such as the juxtapositions of the plentiful verses and of course that part about passing a joint to his next door neighbor through his window.

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5 The Clash – “Guns of Brixton”

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When I was growing up this was actually just about my favorite song on London Calling… since then I’ve developed a taste for the aching chord progressions in “Spanish Bombs” and “The Right Profile,” but this dark dirge about evading or conflicting with police still certainly hits hard, and hopefully qualifies us whities as capable of performing this music. Well, it’s better than Vanilla Ice, anyway.

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4 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Buffalo Soldier”

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As far as I can tell, “Buffalo Soldier,” while certainly catchy and oddly comforting as a sort of unifying reggae anthem, is basically a fantasy about moving to America and executing a sort of reverse-Manifest Destiny type deal where you kill all white men and reclaim the fertile land thereon for the hands of people of color, the type of people who theoretically won’t pollute it and grow genetically modified crops there, or so you’d think. The “buffalo” reference, then, makes me think that it was envisioned as a west-to-east maneuver, which literally would be Manifest Destiny in reverse.

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3 Peter Tosh – “(You Gotta Walk and) Don‟t Look Back”

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Here is a great song complete with Mick Jagger on background vocals, who is said to have been a “kindred spirit” of Peter Tosh. There’s no Wikipedia page on this song but for some reason I have the mental image of them recording this tune in Jamaica. It’s certainly got an exotic feel about it, with the festive horns draping the bridges and that genuine, feel-good message of not needing anything in life except your own freedom.

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2 Jimmy Cliff – “The Harder They Come”

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Obviously, this song hardly needs an introduction at all — it spawned a major film of the same name, that is, and has certainly become an inspiring radio anthem over the years. Of primary note I guess is the artist name, which many people might not be aware of, though they’ve no doubt heard the tune before, or at least heard their hippie uncle singing it at a family reunion, or something along those lines.

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1 Bob Marley & the Wailers – “One Love”

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Lots of people name “Three Little Birds” as the best Bob Marley song but I look to this one for several reasons. For instance, it seems more effortless to me, sort of like to a greater extent an exercise in sacrifice, putting the larger good before yourself in a transcendent sort of way that’s stalwart and worldly but still somehow miraculously transmissible through music in this pliable sort of way. It’s certainly hard, anyway, to imagine war existing in a world where this song also unfurls.

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