Only in the world of reggae could you get away with a whole album of different versions of a song formed from a single backing track, yet how each version voices the track — with new vocalists, lyrics or different lead instruments — is exactly what excites the reggae audience.

“Satta Massa Ganna” (“Give Praises” in the ancient Ethiopian language of Amharic) was recorded by The Abyssinians in 1969, but its initial release was held back a few years because it was considered ahead of its time. In hindsight, it really does seem like the blueprint for the roots reggae that dominated Jamaican music in the ’70s: the tough drum and bass, the haunting minor-key melody, the spiritual Rasta lyrics and the all-encompassing sense of brooding dread.

It soon became a dancehall staple and has been covered more than 100 times. Twenty of these variations are included here, the original leading into ’70s DJ versions by Prince Far-I, Dillinger and Big Youth, up to specially commissioned takes from ’90s singers like Anthony B and Tony Tuff. Indeed, this release shows how out of the seed of “Satta Massa Ganna” sprouted a magnificent tree of musical creativity.

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