The Playlist Special: Top Artists Pick Their Personal Top 10

Mick Jagger: Reggae

Jagger duetted with Peter Tosh in the Seventies, and he and the Rolling Stones covered the reggae classic "Cherry Oh Baby" in 1976. But his love of reggae dates to the Sixties, when he danced in clubs to Jamaican music. Jagger and Charlie Watts were the first Stones to become entranced: "We were interested from a rhythmic point of view, so we started to play reggae beats with the band, and the rest of them picked it up," Jagger says. He adds, with a devious chuckle, "I'm sure Keith would say something different."







Listen: Mick Jagger's Top Reggae Songs

  • 1.
    "Get Up, Stand Up / No More Trouble / War" | Bob Marley, 1976

    I met Bob at the studio when he was doing Catch a Fire. I think I was doing overdubs on Black and Blue in London. He has so many well-known songs that I decided to go with something not-quite. I love the popular songs, but I really love this take from the Live at the Roxy album, a medley. It's a bit left-field: a very long version of "Get Up, Stand Up," which is a great groove of a song that segues beautifully into "No More Trouble" and "War," and then back to "Get Up, Stand Up." The whole thing lasts 24 minutes, but if you decide to dance to it it, you'll still be going at the end.

  • 2.
    "Pick Myself Up" | Peter Tosh, 1978

    "Legalize It" is really good, but I'm going to pick this, a slow one. It's so wistful and different, and the groove is really good.

  • 3.
    "54-46 That's My Number " | Toots and the Maytals, 1968

    I don't know exactly why, but I've always loved this song. It's danceable, for starters, and the vocal delivery is very cool. Toots was so raw. I like the way he just slams it at you, vocally. He's great on this one.

  • 4.
    "You Don't Love Me" | Dawn Penn, 1967

    I first heard Jamaican music in the Sixties, and it wasn't called reggae then, but "blue beat." There were lots of Jamaicans in London, of course, and you'd hear blue beat, which eventually morphed into ska, and you'd hear calypso and other Caribbean music. I remember going out to dance at clubs in Mayfair. You wouldn't call "You Don't Love Me" hard reggae, exactly, but it's got these incredible, lilting rhythms, and she sings it in such a soulful way. I love that tune. It's beautiful. It was a giant hit, and rightly so.

  • 5.
    "Cream of the Crop" | Gregory Isaacs, 1983

    This is a very sexy song, with a supremely relaxed groove.

  • 6.
    "War Ina Babylon" | Max Romeo and the Upsetters, 1976

    This established what you might call the tenet of reggae. Lee "Scratch" Perry produced it – it's essential reggae. And what a great bass line!

  • 7.
    "Brethern and Sisters" | The Viceroys, 1983

    This is a good example of one of those togetherness-and-love songs, and it has a sort of doo-woppy vocal to it, like you'd hear back in the early days of reggae.

  • 8.
    "Writing on the Wall" | Ronnie Davis, 1983

    This is another song with a super-relaxed groove, and yet the playing is extraordinarily tight. When you listen to it, you're drawn in almost hypnotically to the tune.

  • 9.
    "Ring The Alarm" | Tenor Saw, 1985

    I've long gravitated toward reggae with other than what one considers a standard beat. This is very unusual: The timing and the vocal are so strange.

  • 10.
    "Marcus Garvey" | Burning Spear, 1975

    It's about the continued connection of Jamaica and Africa, which is all part of reggae history: a connection that's at once mystical and very real. I was just talking about Marcus Garvey with someone the other day: the Back to Africa movement, all these people on ships from New York to Liberia. It was a very strange time.