Jamaica Observer / Fifty years ago, the world was introduced to a new sound, a sound from Jamaica. Britain would be the first of the international markets to embrace this sound, thanks to the work of Trojan Records, a new-to-the-scene outfit that would change the way Britons accessed our music.
Trojan Records was reportedly named after a flatbed truck owned by trailblazing Jamaican producer Arthur “Duke” Reid, which he used to transport his soundsystem around Jamaica. The label was launched in 1968 by Lee Gopthal and Chris Blackwell. Initially formed as a UK outlet for Reid’s releases, the label went on to bring the likes of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Desmond Dekker, The Pioneers, Bob Marley, Prince Buster and Jimmy Cliff to a mainstream audience.
As part of the golden anniversary celebrations of Trojan a year of activities is being planned including the release of a commemorative catalogue of its releases over the part 50 years; a documentary; a coffee table book and a series of live events across the united Kingdom and sections of Europe.
A year-long celebration is being planned to commemorate the landmark, Trojan Records will be putting on a series of live events and releasing a catalogue of music releases, including a definitive 50th anniversary box set, for those true fans of reggae and its rich culture.
The label has started releasing genre-themed double CDs which draw inspiration from the deep catalogue that is Jamaican music. So far Trojan Records has released This Is Trojan Ska, This Is Trojan Reggae, This Is Trojan Rock Steady and This Is Trojan Boss Reggae. Ska & Reggae Classics was set for released last Friday, while both This Is Trojan Roots and This Is Trojan Dub will be released on June 22. Come July 27 the label will release its centrepiece — its 50th Anniversary box set, a definitive collector’s item which is also said to include four 12-inch LPs, 6 CDs, two seven-inch vinyl records, an album covers book, a seven-inch adapter, poster, patch and slipmat.
Trojan Records’ Laurence Cane-Honeysett has made mention of the role the label has played in the development of the music industry.
“Trojan’s place in the development of mainstream popular culture should never be underestimated. Often hailed as the Motown or Blue Note of reggae, the company introduced the sound of Jamaica to a global audience and by so doing was instrumental in forever changing the sound of popular music. A success story that is both British and Jamaican, its importance is reflected in the fact that after 50 years in business, Trojan continues to attract music fans the world over.”
Anthony “Chips” Richards, one of this year’s recipients of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation made his mark in the music through his association with Trojan Records in the 1970s.
His involvement in the marketing and promotion of reggae began in the United Kingdom nearly five decades ago. He made his mark with Trojan Records, helping to promote major hit songs like Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own which made the UK national chart in 1975.
“In 1971 I was invited by the owner of Trojan Records to get involved with the marketing of reggae in the UK. This was a bad period for reggae as the music was often associated with the dysfunctional behaviour of the Skinheads, who loved the music,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Other local acts who helped push the label and music into the mainstream were Desmond Dekker, The Maytals, Dave and Ansel Collins’ Double Barrel and John Holt in the early years, followed by acts such as Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Bob Marley