The Ultimate Guide to Great Reggae - The complete story of Reggae told through its greatest songs, famous and forgotten - Michael Garnice
Michael Garnice [+]
Mento has banjo and rumba box, ska has trombone, rock steady has piano and reggae has electric bass. Dub, too, has its signature instruments. First is the mixing board that made the music possible. Second is the melodica, due to the music of one man, Augustus Pablo. If you are not familiar with a melodica, it’s a handheld keyboard that is blown into, making it something of a cross between a harmonica and an accordion. Before Augustus, it was less known and less respected than either of these instruments, disparaged as a teaching keyboard and certainly not thought suitable for recording. But the instrument was common enough in Jamaica and reggae musicians were resourceful and open-minded enough to see no reason not to utilize the melodica. To be fair to Peter Tosh, he had begun to use the instrument on a few tracks by The Wailers beginning in 1971, the same year that Pablo first recorded with it. And Bobby Kalphat also recorded with the instrument around the same time. But whereas these other keyboardists could have used organ just the same, it was Pablo who gave the melodica a new voice.