Adults Only: X-Rated Reggae
While most reggae focuses on love and social consciousness, there are also tunes about, well, sex.
The island’s very rich tradition of smutty songs was kickstarted in the ’50s and ’60s. In the ska era, we had none other than Lee “Scratch” Perry telling listeners to call him “Dr. Dick.” And, of course, there were Owen & Leon with the even more risqué “Want Me Cock.” By the late ’60s, Prince Buster took it one step further with the even-less-subtle “Wreck a Pum Pum” (sung to the melody of “The Little Drummer Boy”), “Pum Pum a Go Kill You,” “Rough Rider” and “Wine and Grine.” (In Jamaican patois, “wine” refers to grinding and gyrating—both at the dancehall and the bedroom.)
The U.S. in the ’70s had the notorious Blowfly cornering the X-rated record market, but in Jamaica, a whole string of “legit” singers went lewd, notably the handsome—and appropriately named—Max Romeo, who, before discovering Jah a few years later, specialized in proto-“slackness” with his first big hit, “Wet Dream,” singing, “Every night me go to sleep, me have wet dreams/Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down.” He revisited the subject numerous times, with “Sexy Sadie,” “Wine Her Goosie” and quite a few others – plus, ska innovator Derrick Morgan went lewd in the ’70s, with his own Prince Buster version, “Wreck a Fanny,” and quite a few other tunes.
But it wasn’t just the men coming in strong. The ladies could hold their own in the adult reggae realm, too. In the ’60s, Nora Dean had her hit for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle with “Barbwire;” Faye Bennett had her sultry “Bedroom Mazurka,” “Hole Under Crutches,” “Big Cockey Wally” and more. The Soul Sisters, also known as The Rude Girls and The Sexy Girls, were the vocal trio of Nora Dean, Cecile Campbell and none other than Rita Marley, and these ladies went so far as to take on an answer record to Prince Buster with “Wreck a Buddy.” Here’s a playlist of raunchy reggae, that inevitably will make you wine and grine.
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