Spirit Of 69

Fifty years ago reggae and skinhead went mainstream.

It was back in 1969 that the exciting new musical style from Jamaica was discovered by the world at large, with the likes of Desmond Dekker & the Aces, Max Romeo, Tony Tribe, the Upsetters, the Pioneers, Jimmy Cliff and the Harry J All Stars all securing significant chart hits in Britain and beyond.

While the buying power of the UK’s expanding Afro-Caribbean population played a substantial role in the unexpected success of these records, the unforeseen growth of a working-class mass youth sub-culture, later labelled ‘skinhead’, proved equally as influential.

Irresistibly drawn to the dynamic, unpretentious, no-nonsense sounds that matched their outlook and a clean cut dress sense largely inspired by the clothes of their Afro-Caribbean counterparts, these British teenagers embraced the music as their own, purchasing reggae 7” singles and albums in their thousands, and in so doing helping to make numerous Jamaican-born acts international stars, while also transforming Trojan Records into a major player in the music industry.

Over the years that immediately followed, music and fashion changed dramatically, but a faithful few continued to champion skinhead styles while also maintaining a deep affection and respect for the Jamaican music of the Sixties and early Seventies. But by the 1980s, the look had been appropriated by others, whose extreme political views severely damaged the legacy of the original skinhead generation. Despite this significantly detrimental development, many chose to maintain the spirit of ’69, forming Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (S.H.A.R.P.) as a stand against those that had so sullied their reputation

Since then, successive generations around the world have been drawn to the look and music so beloved by thousands British youths around the close of the 1960s. So much so that 50 years since reggae and skinhead first made their dramatic impact upon British culture, they both continue to attract new devotees, so ensuring the Spirit of 69 will continue to burn bright for a very long time to come.

This year, Trojan is paying due respect to those original stylists and the irresistible boss reggae sounds that brought so much joy to so many throughout the world by issuing a number of specially curated releases that showcase the music of the late Sixties.

Kicking things off is Do The Reggae, a 2CD set featuring some of the most popular UK-released tunes from 1969. The latest collection in the popular ‘Monkey Business’ series, the compilation sees issue on 22 February and can be ordered from the Trojan online store and all good CD retailers.

Next up will be the aptly titled Spirit of 69 Albums Collection’, a ‘clamshell’ box comprising reproductions of 5 of the most collectable Trojan albums from ’69, which is to see release on 29 March.

Full details of both are available elsewhere on this site, while information on further ‘Spirit of 69’ themed releases will follow over the coming weeks and months. So be sure to keep watching this space!