5 Classic Reggae Albums To Listen To When You're New To The Genre

Reggae music originated in Jamaica, and for years, it was really only popular on the island. Over the past few decades, however, reggae music has expanded its reach. If you've recently discovered the genre, there are a few classic albums you should listen to in order to really get a feel for reggae.

The Harder They Come

Released in 1972, The Harder They Come is an album by Jimmy Cliff. It was one of the first reggae albums to gain popularity outside Jamaica. The beats are enthralling, uplifting, and have really stood the test of time. Definitely look for a physical vinyl copy if you can. The art on the cover, depicting the artist dressed in colorful garb, is priceless. 

Catch a Fire

Bob Marley did a great job of popularizing reggae in the United States, and his album Catch a Fire, released in 1973, gained real notoriety. The harmonies on this album are really unique to Bob Marley's style. Some would describe the music as kinky, and it was considered very progressive at the time. 

Tubby King Meets Rockers Uptown

Sometimes reggae can be playful and almost joking, and this album is a good example of how that trend began. The artist, Osbourne Ruddock, went by the nickname King Tubby. The music is more instrumental than some reggae, and the lyrics are melodious and often hilarious. King Tubby was also praised for his use of reverb in this one. It was released in 1977 when the U.S. was becoming more familiar with reggae but still a bit new to the genre.

Journey to Addis

Released in 1978, this album by World provided a few real, toe-tapping dance tunes. The album has a very traditional Rastafarian feeling with a lot of drum solos, and it went on to influence the disco music of the coming decade.

Uptown Top Ranking

This album became popular almost by accident. A U.K. radio station accidentally played one of its tracks, and listeners loved it. The album then spread across Europe and the United States. The performers behind the album were Althea Forrest and Donna Reid, who were both teenagers at the time the album was released in 1977.

If you listen to these five classic reggae albums, you will emerge with a better understanding and a greater appreciation for the genre. Build your collection from there, listening to as many different soulful reggae albums as you can.