Toppa Top 8: Eight Reggae Albums By Non-Reggae Stars

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Serge Gainsbourg-Aux Armes Et Cætera
Ten Reggae Albums By Non-Reggae Stars

Decades before Vybz Kartel and Spice were banned for being lyrically lewd and lascivious on Jamaica airwaves, French singer/songwriter/poet/composer Serge Gainsbourg and English singer Jane Birkin were ramping rough on the orgasmic “Je t’aime…Moi Non Plus”– a single so risqué that the record executive who released it in Italy was supposedly excommunicated by the Vatican. Ironically, it was the first French single ever in regular rotation on Jamaican popular radio. Finding a solid footing with Jamaican audiences, Gainsbourg went to Jamaica in the late ‘70s, calling on the musical genius of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, and the backing vocals of the I-Threes. 1979’s Aux Armes Et Cetera, a mixture of Gainsbourg’s patriotism, politics, and vulgar sexual fantasies, was France’s first reggae album. The title track, a reggae version of the French National Anthem “La Marseillaise,” was perceived by some as an insult to the French Republic and became even more controversial than “Je t’aime,” with death threats and the whole nine. Allegedly Bob Marley was also insulted that Gainsbourg had his wife Rita singing slackness on tunes like “Lola Rastaquouere.” Gainsbourg teamed again in 1981 with Sly & Robbie and the I-Threes, as well as Ansel Collins, on another reggae LP, Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles.