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Satta Massagana by Abyssinians
Released: Jan 1976
Label: New Rounder
This album shifted the roots reggae universe. Recorded in 1969 and then tabled, Satta Massagana saw staggered, semi-legal releases through the '70s, but that didn't dull its impact: Besides defining spiritual reggae, many argue that it actually set the stage for dub and dancehall as well. The group's broad spirituality extended to actually using Amharic, a primary Ethiopian language, in their songs. (Kingston was apparently teeming with young men learning Amharic at the time.) The one-drop beat dominated, and those close, minor-key harmonies became the gold standard for roots groups.
Sarah Bardeen
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