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Our Favourite Reggae Albums 2011

Our Favourite Reggae Albums 2011

Our Favourite Reggae Albums 2011

By on - 16 comments

As voted by some of our team.

Angus Taylor hates making end of year lists. Erik Magni loves them. So this time we decided they should join forces in choosing their favourite albums of 2011 (we decided "the best" was asking for trouble!). Only those that showed up on both their private lists were selected for the final top 20. However, we have also included a list of essential albums that didn't make the list so that all honourable mentions are included. This list is unranked, but feel free to suggest which albums were better than others and which ones have been overlooked. No reissues or compilations have been counted. There is a special section for free downloads at the end.

Stephen MarleyStephen Marley - Revelations Part One: The Root Of Life
The second half to this two part concept series never surfaced this year as initially promised. But part one was a beautifully crafted tribute to Stephen's father's era of music and his finest platter yet.

SizzlaSizzla - The Scriptures
Every culturally minded album by Sizzla is hailed as a return to form but this one actually was: a wobbly opus using digitally enhanced Jammys rhythms from his son John John. The tracks actually felt like they had been chosen for a reason while Sizzla's controversial falsetto never sounded better on the Beach Boys/Animal Collective-like Jah Is My Shield.

Takana ZionTakana Zion - Rasta Government
The Guinean chanter's longplayers have gone from strength to strength and this was his masterstroke. Lyrically simple (but hey, the man speaks multiple languages), the messages were manna to roots reggae fans worldwide.

Hollie CookHollie Cook - Hollie Cook
Punk had a curious relationship with reggae in the 70s. But today the ethereal voiced daughter of sex pistol Paul Cook created a head swimmingly retro lovers rock debut with unstoppable engineer Prince Fatty that pleased purists and public alike.

AlpheusAlpheus - From Creation
When British Studio One prodigy Alpheus said he would never sing another modern reggae song it sounded bizarre. But that was before he and producer Robert Sanchez unleashed this note-perfect recreation of the days of Coxsone and Phil Pratt in the ska and rocksteady era which took the critics of Europe by storm.

Earl SixteenEarl Sixteen - The Fittest
Dubby Dutch double team JahSolidRock and Not Easy At All trumped this list with two releases last year. This time they kept their hand in with a full showcase effort from prolific roots internationalist Earl Sixteen.

Richie SpiceRichie Spice - Book Of Job
The unmistakable voice of Richall Bonner over Penthouse and other rhythms was an early favourite from Jamaica in 2011. My Life, a remixed adaptation of Randy Crawford's Street Life, was an instant modern classic, while Richie's singing on the Raging Fyah production Black Woman had a distinctly West African vibe.

ProtojeProtoje - The Seven Year Itch
Lorna Bennett's talented singjay son's eclectic radio-friendly introduction silenced the doom and gloom merchants who had been writing off Jamaican music. The last-minute removal of strongest track Our Time Come (due to clearance issues over its Burning Spear sample) was a disappointment but the rest still held its own.

I-TawehI-Taweh – Overload
Again the naysayers were silenced when a St Ann's parish roots reggae artist took the Richie B album chart number one spot. Veteran session musician I-Taweh Cunningham's story - like his record - was one of the most inspirational of the year.

PerfectPerfect - Back For The First Time
Another St Ann's man, the ever dependable Perfect, linked up with Californian rhythm team Lustre Kings for a record that hit his highest heights since 2008's Born Dead With Life. More of a grower than that album it was a unanimous choice in our office nonetheless.

JoggoJoggo – Modern Rockers Vol. 1
Yet another strong rootsy album from the Netherlands. Clarence Seedorf's brother Joggo’s direct and desperate tone along with several sing-along choruses made this a very memorable set.

Uprising Roots BandUprising Roots Band – Skyfiya
The debut album from one of the several bands that have surfaced in Jamaica in recent years. This is eerie roots reggae that pays homage to pioneering Jamaican groups such as Culture and The Gladiators.

LucianoLuciano – Rub a Dub Market
His third full-lengther in less than a year, and Luciano continues to work with producers outside Jamaica with great success. This one was produced by Vienna-based IrieVibrations and holds many familiar Luciano ingredients – beautiful harmonies and grandiose choruses.

Sara LugoSara Lugo - What About Love?
The little lady from outside Munich with the room-silencing voice decided not to make a straight reggae album for her debut. Even so, it was a prodigious statement that played on the close relationship between soul and reggae, and announced the rising of a new star.

I WayneI Wayne - Life Teachings
I Wayne's Third Record for Loyal Soldiers caused a dilemma for liberal listeners. His proscriptive lyrics seemed preoccupied with sexual behaviour but the music was stronger than anything he had released before.

J BoogJ Boog - Backyard Boogie
The Hawaii based singer's cracked-voiced crooning seemed well at home on the more Jamaican sounding rhythms of his second disc. This versatile, hugely popular artist delivered one of the best slices of "island pop" this year.

Ziggi RecadoZiggi Recado – Ziggi Recado
Ziggi’s third album showed a brand new side to him. This was an adventurous blend of reggae, soul, hip-hop, funk and even rock. In some cases it would have sounded disunited, but it’s actually a cohesive whole.

MidniteMidnite – Kings Bell
On their fifth album in 2011, and about the 45th during their career, Midnite is more accessible than ever before. But it doesn’t mean that Kings Bell offers extravagant harmonies or na-na-na’s. It’s still the same Midnite, but - thanks to producer Andrew Bassie Campbell and his top Jamaican session musicians - with clearer melodies and more memorable hooks.

Raging FyahRaging Fyah – Judgement Day
Singer Ray Darwin’s former band mates have found a new singer, and on their promising opening set they play skanking, uplifting reggae as it was played in the 70’s.

Little RoyLittle Roy - Battle For Seattle
The reggae covers industry took a bold step beyond the safer choices of Easy Star Records. Little Roy's second album in 2011 deservedly moved him into the mainstream as he highlighted the uplifting quality to Kurt Cobain’s songs across a series of Nirvana covers. It’s the second appearance on our list from producer/engineer Prince Fatty whose daring concept showed he is as interested in taking reggae forward as looking back.

Other essential albums that didn't make the list (i.e. we couldn't agree!)

Reggae Regulars - If Only
Tappa Zukie - X Is Wrong
Gappy Ranks - Thanks & Praise
Little Roy - Heat
Deadly Hunta - Speak My Mind
Etana - Free Expressions
Joey Fever - In A Fever
Ray Darwin - People's Choice
Alborosie - Two Times Revolution
Warrior King – Tell Me How Me Sound

2011 albums

Free downloads

Collie Buddz - Playback EP
Kabaka Pyramid - Rebel Music EP
Mark Wonder and Zion Roots - The Dragonslayer
Mandinka Warrior and Mr Williamz - Dancehall Nice Again
Jahmali – Sounds with a Purpose

2011 Regage Albums

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Read comments (16)

Posted by Xavier on 01.04.2012
Great work! I am happy to read your comments :)

Posted by BenPeronne on 01.05.2012
Wawww ! 2011 was a very bad year for Reggae (as the 5 years before...) It's very sad for me because i really love reggae music, but this selection is very poor and miserable.

Reggae is not dead ! Please we want real good reggae not this creepy shit...

Posted by Gaz Birtles on 01.05.2012
Don't miss out on the new reggae sensation that will sweep the country this year - BY THE RIVERS - check them out here -

Posted by Jah will rise you up on 01.05.2012
Bless up on the efforts to promote our beautiful reggae music... I was wondering how jr gong - distant relative didn't make the list. Anyway alot of good reggae music is out there it is just not in main stream. Several reggae artists are doing their own production and promotion. Check out Principle & Jah Juice - "Jah will ise you up".

Posted by Julian Schmidt on 01.05.2012
Distant Relatives is from 2010 not 2011!

Posted by MrQuick on 01.05.2012
From Creation - Alpheus

Posted by Blahblah on 01.05.2012
Wow no Alborosie - 2 Times Revolution. Def one of the best of the year!

Posted by Professor on 01.05.2012
Professor:Madness all the way!!!

Posted by Gibsy on 01.06.2012
As a big supporter of today's underground reggae and dub scene I am a little surprised there isn't any mention of underground foundation releases, taste is taste and each to his own, But I'd like to put forward : 1) Yabass 'Back A Yard Dub' on Cherry Red Records 2) V/A 'Roots Temple Dubplates' on Roots Temple -for the benefit of Japan. 3) Ital Roots Players 'History Mystery Destiny' on Roots Temple. 4) Yabass Yaba Radics 'Guns Down The Obeah At OK Corrale Centrale' on Come Fi Conquer/SpringlineRecords 5) -Free album- V/A 'Revolutionary Dub Vibrations Chapter3 and my non underground choice is 6) Bristol Reggae Explosion 2 . All the above are official releases either or both on CD and download stores.

Posted by xavier on 01.06.2012
Gibsy > No reissues or compilations have been counted.
But you right what a good releases!

Posted by Dutty Bookman on 01.06.2012
Bless. Good-looking list. I noticed you had Raging Fyah's album as 'Judgement TIME' but it should be 'Judgement DAY'. Big up da band deh as well as Uprising Roots! Also, Protoje album is one that I am really proud of as a yard man. A lot of greatness rising out of the Rock these days... Looking forward to Jah9 on the list next year! Bless.

Posted by dubtubby on 01.06.2012
Great selection of albums. Need to say that the Earl 16 album has not been removed from my car stereo since i bought it . Def one of Earl's best releases so far .

Posted by ITALIANVIBES on 01.07.2012

Posted by menunggu pagie on 01.08.2012
I really like Protoje & Joggo

Posted by Skarl on 01.10.2012
What No Mungos Hi Fi?!!

Posted by peter on 01.13.2012
Great online magazine,read all the articels about mayor players in the reggae bussiness.
But the selection of so called best albums of the year is truly sad,with all the respect to the artist,so much more going on underground why not noticed.
Most is overproduced slick,in the pocket of the companie.
Once again money rules.

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