With over 50 years of records to choose from, creating a top 10 reggae playlist is a hell of a job — but it helps if DJ Don Letts is helping out.
Letts has been DJing for over 40 years — from playing reggae and dub to the punk kids at the Roxy in London, then years DJing at clubs and festivals. He’s not stuck in a reggae and punk rut, though — his weekly Culture Clash show on BBC 6 Music can throw up plenty of curveballs, from krautrock and soul, to hip-hop, post-punk and Afrobeat.
He’s been in a reggae cocoon lately though, producing his first ever podcast Reggae 45 — a four-part series that he describes “my personal journey, through my life in reggae”.
In an interview with me a few days ago, Letts discussed his love of sound system culture in detail, along with plenty of tales from the reggae frontline.
But as Reggae 45 is finally released today, the Don is only focusing on the music. During the interview I put him on the spot asking for his desert island reggae discs, but he promised to get back with a playlist, and he emailed me back with this exclusive top 10 ‘Crucial Reggae Killer Cuts’ (“in no particular order”), and a few words on each one…
Toots and the Maytals – Broadway Jungle
An old school classic that’s guaranteed to nice up any dance.
Lee “Scratch” Perry & the Upsetters – Black Panta
One of the earliest examples of the dub maestro at work.
Dawn Penn – No, No, No
A tune I drop nearly every set I play ’cause it gets the girls movin’ and groovin’.
Tenor Saw – Ring The Alarm
A sound system anthem that has to be heard that way.
Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown
The track that started my life-long passion for dub.
Johnny Osbourne – Buddy Bye
If you wanna get the party started this is the tune to play.
Big Youth – Marcus Garvey
Two for one with this cut — roots legend Burning Spear along with one of the original mighty three DJs.
Chronixx – Alpha and Omega
My current favourite reggae vocalist on a kicking track that features Sly & Robbie.
DJ Vadim – Fussin’ & Fighting
A track that demonstrates reggae’s reach — Vadim’s from Leningrad, Russia.
Damian Marley – Welcome to Jamrock
A killer combination of heavyweight groove with some social commentary his dad would be proud of.
Don Letts’ Reggae 45 series is a partnership with the Turtle Bay Caribbean restaurant chain — find the episodes at turtlebay.co.uk or iTunes .
- Original post on buzz.ie