If memory serves, Red was on of the very first (non-Marley) full-out reggae albums I ever purchased, and I was instantly captivated by the opening track, “Youth of Eglington.”
A protest song written and sung by Michael Rose, “Youth of Eglington” is driven by a single, repeating guitar (or at least I think that’s a guitar) figure and in-and-out harmonies from Puma Jones and Duckie, “Youth of Eglington” was also the first time I ever heard the riddim section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
It was obvious from that very first listen that they were monsters, masters of groove and hypnotism. Just on this song, listen how Robbie lays back on the verses, and then just totally drives the chorus straight through to completion.
In 1981, reggae was still pretty new and alien to me. Of course it was all over my beloved Clash albums; Tim had turned me on to Catch a Fire and Burnin,’ and I’d also gone out found the seminal soundtracks to The Harder They Come and Rockers.
But most of that was rummaging around in the past. Red was different: it was contemporary reggae by a relatively new artist, meaning that it was forward-looking, and hopefully the tip of a music that was moving forward and could even take over the world in the 1980s.
“Youth of Eglington” performed live in 1981
My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist: