In Praise of the Great Jamaican Sound Systems

I’m fascinated with the history of Jamaican sound systems, the big street parties that became a phenomena back in the 50s in Jamaica. 

The gist is this: DJ’s would load up a big sound system into a truck and drive into the poorer areas of Kingston and other cities, crank it up and hold an impromptu party. The parties became so popular eventually promoters started selling tickets and alcohol, and the whole scene became a critical incubator for ska, dub, reggae and the Jamaican sound. 

Eventually a few of the sound systems DJ’s headed to the UK and the Bronx where they still exist today, in slightly different forms.

In the spirit of the great Jamaican sound systems, I made a mix on Spotify you can listen to here. It’s a lot of early reggae and ska and will hopefully get you feeling right this weekend. 

See also, this interview with the guys behind Eastern Standard Time, one of the best sound system-ish radio shows on the air today.