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WHILE contemporary Jamaican acts failed to impress music buyers in the United States, older artistes did comparatively better in 2012 mainly through the reissue market.
Bob Marley again led this 'vintage' field. The official soundtrack to British director Kevin MacDonald's documentary, Marley, sold 31,656 copies according to SoundScan — the company that tracks record sales in the US. Solid figures for that market.
Legend, the 1984 compilation containing 13 of Marley's popular songs, soared past 25 million copies. It is one of the biggest selling 'greatest hits' collections in music history and has been a fixture on Billboard magazine's catalogue chart for over 20 years.
The Marley documentary premiered in Kingston in April and drew a massive crowd to Emancipation Park. It was enthusiastically received by critics and has been nominated for a NAACP Image Award.
As Jamaica celebrated its 50th year of Independence, record companies in Europe and the United States continued to do well by reissuing Jamaican music from the 1960s and 1970s. Trojan Records in England released a series of ska and rocksteady titles geared at Europe which has always been receptive to those sounds.
In the US, VP Records, owners of the vast Randys catalogue, maintained its reissue campaign with its 17 North Parade arm. They released 'best of' albums by Culture and Barrington Levy, but their most ambitious project was Out Of Many: 50 Years of Jamaican Music, a four-CD set compiled by former Jamaica Prime Minister Edward Seaga.
Tads International Record, which operates out of Kingston and South Florida, also celebrated Jamaica's Golden Jubilee with Jamaica 50th: Then And Now, a multi-song tribute. The company's Jamaica 50 album contains 50 songs produced or licensed by its founder Tad Dawkins in the last 35 years.
Like jazz and R&B, the reggae reissue market has always been vibrant. That looks set to continue in 2013 with Trojan already promoting a list of ska projects and Tads pushing a Gregory Isaacs collection.
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