Natty and Nice

Natty and Nice

A Reggae Christmas

Rhino

Not since the Blue Hawaiians have I felt so warm during the holidays. I know, I live in Florida, but the sounds of reggae renditions of classics, traditionals, and originals somehow cuts through the chill of the air conditioning and truly completes the tropical Yuletide feeling. Name brands include Toots and the Maytals, Beres Hammond, and Lee “Scratch” Perry, but overall the quality of the disc (eighteen songs in all, some dating from as early as 1964) is consistent, whether you recognize the artists or not. The main distinction you can hear on this disc is the plain simple joy of the holidays the people of the Caribbean experience. While a lot of Christmas albums sound like musicians capitalizing on a situation — creating a specialty product suitable for seasonal demand — the music here is genuine and straight from the heart. Copious liner notes give a glimpse of the holidays in Jamaica from several perspectives, and the refreshing feeling you get from knowing there’s still a place where the holidays aren’t commercialized is worth the price of the disc alone. Special moment: John Holt’s rendition of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com

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