Album: Various artists

Trojan Christmas Box Set, Trojan/Sanctuary
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

As Yellowman's "We Wish You a Reggae Christmas" confirms, reggae artists have never been found wanting when it comes to cheap seasonal gimmickry - though they usually forgo the excessive pieties in favour of a little fun. This three-disc anthology draws together 50 Christmas songs from four decades of Jamaican pop, generally the older the better - especially The Granville Williams Orchestra's "Santa Claus Is Ska-ing To Town" from 1964, on which the familiar ska "chick-a-do, chick-a-do" vocal percussion sounds like Santa urging his reindeer to "giddy up". But there's a predictable unanimity about the performers' idea of decent stocking-fillers, with Jacob Miller & Ray I's "All I Want for Ismas" plumping for "colly herb, and we smoke up the pipe", while the very first present that Peter Broggs anticipates in his rasta adaptation of "Twelve Days Of Christmas" is "a garden full of sensi". Never mind universal peace, satsumas and goodwill to all men, they'll take a massive spliff, thanks all the same. The bulk of this collection is fairly anodyne fare, but there are some gems such as Eek a Mouse's "The Night Before Christmas", The Maytals' ebullient "Happy Christmas" and, best of all, King Stitt's berserk dub toast "Christmas Tree", which pares the occasion down to a few essential barks: "Nice! Nice! Drink wine, feel fine! Rock your bodyline, it's Christmas time!".