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on January 31, 2001
If you're looking for a quick and easy read on the history of Reggae, this probably isn't the place to start. If you're looking for a reference work to help you flesh out your reggae collection, this is the book for you. Steve Barrow might well be the most knowledgeable person writing about Reggae today.
Since buying this book I've personally dropped a couple a grand on Reggae CDs, mainly on recommendations in this book or the Virgin Reggae guide. Overall, I'd say about 90%+ were worth my money. In this respect, the book has been invaluable to me. If you're a true fan of Reggae, it will be invaluable to you too.
Some of the criticisms leveled by other reviewers on this site are a result of unfair or misguided expectations. They are apparently disappointed that the book isn't an easy read, or an oral history of some sort. I think the best way to approach this book is to start with a particular style of Reggae that you're interested in (i.e., Roots, Ska, etc.) and dig in. Get some on the recommended CDs, and enjoy! Then move on to another chapter if you are so inclined.
One last plug for the author: Steve Barrow is the co-owner of Blood & Fire, currently Reggae's best reissue label. Buy everything you can get your hands with the B & F logo! - the stuff is worth its weight in ganja.
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on March 13, 2012
I have used the rough guide to reggae and the smaller "Rough Guide: 100 Essential CDs" by the same authors, for over a decade. They have proven to be excellent resources that, as the other reviewer's touch on, serve as buyer's guides rather than books to be read cover to cover (though the smaller one can be read cover to cover).

Some of the other comments that criticize the book's organization and objectivity are in my opinion totally irrelevant when you consider the overall depth and quality of this reggae resource. I have been a roots reggae deejay for 10 years and thanks largely to Barrow and Dalton my collection (and enjoyment) of the music has exploded. They basically never fail to recommend great music, they seem to know everything about the genre, and I find myself gaining more and more profound respect for their judgement.

I consider my reggae to have gone from first tier knowledge before reading the rough guide (the Wailers, Isaacs, Brown, Spear, Toots, Wailing Souls, Scratch, pablo, tubby, etc), on to a "second-tier" understanding after starting to explore this (skatalites, abyssinians, yabby you, junior byles, heptones, ellis, sugar minott, u-roy, keith hudson, etc) and then after really digging into the rough guide I have reached yet another level entirely, which has brought me some of the most classic and under-appreciated music to emerge from Jamaica (guys like joe higgs, jackie mittoo, the royal rasses, slim smith, and bob andy).

The gift that keeps on giving. I particularly like the smaller "100 Essential CDs" for the layout and cover-to-cover readability. Plus it allows for a longer review of each album that becomes a de facto mini-biography of the artists.

Thanks Steve and Peter for bringing me this muck joy! I am sure I will continue to find more classic music from your guides.
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on April 16, 1999
I enjoyed this book very much. If you have this, "Reggae Bloodlines" and "Catch a Fire," you have quite a comprehensive overview of the reggae phenomenon. "Reggae: The Rough Guide" is an indispensable World Music book, along with such must-have volumes as "The Brazilian Sound" and "World Music: The Rough Guide."
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VINE VOICEon May 25, 2006
Great book, one of the best resources, along with allmusic.com. However, if you have the 1st or 2nd edition, there is not enough new here to warrant buying this, wait for 4th edition.

If you don't have any of the editions, which amazon sells all three, this is a great start as are the other two.
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on August 5, 1999
The Rough Guide to Reggae is a good resource for starting a reggae CD collection. But it's not a very good read. Interested reggae fans should probably buy it. But if you really want to know what Jamaican music is all about, Reggae Routes - The Story of Jamaican Music is the real deal.
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on April 14, 1998
Thorough, thoughtful, history of the progress of Jamaican music, with added bonus of discography. Interviews with many important participants in the music. Well presented, and giving credit to many who have been glossed over or ignored elsewhere. Only fault is slight over-emphasis on English scene and sound and corresponding under-play on the US.
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on March 14, 2015
Fantastic read-flows so easy and the insight you gain form this book is amazing. A MUST have for any fan of the genre.
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on August 11, 2005
My parents raised me on roots, but when I wanted to broaden my DUB collection, one of the resources I turned to was the Rough Guide.

Rough Guide is a great go-to reference for the history of different reggae sub-genres and makes a solid buying guide. I've not regretted any music purchases I've made using information from this book. It really helped steer me toward the kinds of music I enjoy and away from things I don't like quite so much, but it also suggested successful adventures I might never have tried otherwise.
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on July 17, 1999
I loved this book, and I really learned a lot. I have read a lot of books about reggae, but this book was exceptional- this one was very informative!
This is a must for any one interested in reggae!
- Rob, A.K.A. "Jah" Schreiber
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on December 2, 1998
There is wealth of reggae-related information in this book. The discographies are fantastic. It is the best Rough Guide I have yet read.
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