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Old 03-16-2010, 11:52 AM   #91 (permalink)
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I've been skimming through this thread for a few days now, you have quite a few interesting reggae acts that you posted about so far. I know a bit about reggae, but not nearly as much as I'd like and it's starting to irk me. I think what would be most helpful for a philistine such as myself is to get an introspective view into the history of the movement, how it evolved from rocksteady & ska and so on. Just so my understanding is accurate, the "golden age" was approximately 1965-1973, correct?

The "Golden Age of Reggae" is a term I've used to cover the era from roughly 1973 until 1986 which was the era when roots reggae, dub and dancehall were in their prime. It's also the era when reggae music went international and reggae musicians like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear. Peter Tosh, U-Roy, Gregory Isaacs, Steel Pulse and Culture brought reggae music to the attention of people all over the world.

Reggae music didn't really exist before 1970 when the Wailer's drummer Carlton Barret developed the slower one-drop drumming riddim that distinguished reggae music from faster ska riddim. During the next 2 or 3 years other Jamiacan drummers, most notably, Horsemouth Wallace and Sly Dunbar adopted the one-drop riddim and by then end of 1972, this distinctive one-drop riddim music with a Rastafarian consciouness became known as "reggae" all over Jamaica.

Chris Blackwell and Island Records changed everything. Blackwell, a British national Jamaican citizen founded Island Records. Island Records was the most successful indie rock label of the 60s. Blackwell signed such rock stars as the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Fairport Convention, King Crimson, and Emerson Lake and Palmer to Island Records.

As a sideline, Blackwell had been recording ska music in Jamaica since 1959 and Blackwell became the most prominent figure in the rise of reggae. Blackwell founded Trojan Records to distribute ska music in the UK where it developed a small but devoted following among West Indian expatriates and a youthful audience of skinheads and mods. Because of his involvement in early ska music scene, Blackwell became the most prominent promoter of reggae music outside of Jamaica almost by default. His only competitor was Richard Branson, another British national who was scouting Jamaica for reggae talent for his newly founded Virgin Records.

In 1973 Blackwell's Island Films released the theatrical film The Harder They Come, and in the same year Island Records released Bob Marley and the Wailers' first globally distributed major label album, Catch A Fire. Both the film and the album marked ground zero in the rise of reggae music to international prominence. Few people outside of Jamaica knew what reggae music was before The Harder They Come and Catch A Fire were released.

Reggae music received even wider international attention when Eric Clapton recorded a version of Marley's song I Shot the Sheriff on his 461 Ocean Blvd. album a year later in 1974. Clapton was still the most influential rock guitarist of that era and he served as a gateway to introduce the music of Bob Marley to millions of rock music fans all over the world.

Roots reggae music was at it's peak between 1977 and 1982 when Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear and Peter Tosh were doing extensive American and European tours and the newly arrived punk music scene began to incorporate the one-drop and dub effects of the reggae idom into their highly stylized rock music. The Clash produced the Black Market extended play single with dub oriented producer Mikey Dread at the controls, Public Image experimented with dub on their Metal Box album and the Specials founded 2-Tone Records and began recording like minded ska and reggae oriented groups like the English Beat, Madness and the Selector.

I was a big fan of punk and the 2-Tone bands but I most of the early 80s ingoring "new wave" music and listening to dub music and the early dancehall deejays, like U-Roy, I-Roy, Big Youth and Mikey Dread. My biggest reggae hero was, and still is the mighty U-Roy who created the dancehall style during the ska era, became the first reggae (and still the best) reggae dancehall deejay and is currently aninfluential force on the electronica scene with his Love Trio In Dub group.

It's all too easy to say that the decline of reggae began with Marley's death in 1981, however Bob's presence was a central force in maintiaing the socially conscious integrity of roots reggae.

Ironically it was the success of reggae that contributed to it's decline. The Jamaican deejay music and dub music became a big influence on the rising American hip hop and rap music scene, in the late Seventies. As a result, reggae producers began experimenting with different tempos and began adding synthesizer tap loops to dancehall music. Roots reggae was mutating into a form of tropical hip hop. As hip hop went international, the one-drop riddims of real roots reggae got lost in the mix.

The "Golden Age" ended around 1986 with the rise of the 165 beats per minute of the sleng teng riddim and the increasing prominence of the dancehall deejays who toasted in the boastful and misogynistic slackness deejay style instead of the roots conciousness style of the early deejays like U-Roy, I-Roy and Big Youth. Slackness is a Jamican term for rude boy behavior.

There really hasn't been a significant international roots reggae star to emerge from Jamaica since the early 80s. The elder statesmen U-Roy is now 67 years old, Burning Spear is 62 years old and the last young turks of the early 80s dub music movement like U-Brown & the Mad Professor are now in their early 50s.

There has been a small revival of both dub and roots reggae the past year but many of the artists are outside Jamaica and artists from the UK, France, Africa and Australia have become a prominent force is this revival . One example is the Austrailan group, the Moonraisers who combine reggae music with their own native Aborigine music.

The video below is an incredible live performance of the Moonraisers doing their song Slave Station.

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Old 03-16-2010, 07:08 PM   #92 (permalink)
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Ironically it was the success of reggae that contributed to it's decline. The Jamaican deejay music and dub music became a big influence on the rising American hip hop and rap music scene, in the late Seventies. As a result, reggae producers began experimenting with different tempos and began adding synthesizer tap loops to dancehall music. Roots reggae was mutating into a form of tropical hip hop. As hip hop went international, the one-drop riddims of real roots reggae got lost in the mix.
I mentioned something similar to this on the forums a year or two back but the consensus seemed to be that it didn't influence Hip Hop which I find incredulous considering 'toasting' over beats was in force in Jamaica many years before Hip Hop came to the fore and the correlation between the use of words and experimental beats was very similar even though Hip Hop used European Electronica and Funk/Soul cuts to provide the backbone but the processes involved were very similar.

Gil Scott Heron is (quite rightly) heralded as an early pioneer of Hip Hop but other similar artists are not given their due. Linton Kwesi Johnson was another phenomenal artist who deserves far more recognition and not just because of the template he used regarding words and music. His spoken poetry over beats regarding social and political issues put him far ahead of his time.
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:35 AM   #93 (permalink)
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I mentioned something similar to this on the forums a year or two back but the consensus seemed to be that it didn't influence Hip Hop which I find incredulous considering 'toasting' over beats was in force in Jamaica many years before Hip Hop came to the fore and the correlation between the use of words and experimental beats was very similar even though Hip Hop used European Electronica and Funk/Soul cuts to provide the backbone but the processes involved were very similar.

Gil Scott Heron is (quite rightly) heralded as an early pioneer of Hip Hop but other similar artists are not given their due. Linton Kwesi Johnson was another phenomenal artist who deserves far more recognition and not just because of the template he used regarding words and music. His spoken poetry over beats regarding social and political issues put him far ahead of his time.
Very perceptive comments. There was a very large contingent of Jamaican deejays doing dancehalls in the Bronx and Brooklyn prior to the rise of the first wave of hip hop. By the time Grandmaster Flash came along, local toasters like Shinehead and Sister Carol were sharing the same dancehall venues with Flash, Run DMC and Curtis Blow. Jamaican deejays like U-Roy, I-Roy and Big Youth were very influential and well known among Bronx and Brooklyn rappers. This current generation of rappers adore the early dub poets like Oku Onuora, Linton Kwesi and Mutabaruka.

Both rap music and reggae toasting go back to the ancient dance rituals, drum riddims and tribal chanting of the African homeland. (As does jazz and blues music for that matter). Any music historian knows that nearly all black music in North America and the West Indies share a common African root. The development of rap music and Jamaican dancehall are very closely linked.

Gil Scott Heron was a great pioneer but not the first poetic rapper. I've met Gil and he usually will tell anyone listening that The Last Poets were his biggest influence and his musical role models. A few years before Gil began performing, The Last Poets emerged from the New York avant garde jazz scene. The song below, Before the White Man Came, parallels the African influenced Nyahbingi drumming and chanting that Ras Michael and the Sons of Negrus were doing in Jamaica at almost the same exact time. The Lost Poet's Pan-African mindset is also very close to the emerging Rastafarian consciouness in Jamaica.


Last edited by Gavin B.; 04-11-2010 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 03-20-2010, 01:31 AM   #94 (permalink)
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Buried Treasure From My Distant Past

I came across this ancient I-Tones video on YouTube, The video was made 1985 and brings back a lot of great memories for me.

At the time this video was made, I was living in Cambridge Massachusetts and did quite a few dancehall deejay gigs at the Western Front, a local reggae club. The I-Tones were pretty much the house band at the Front and I frequently spun music at their gigs I became friends with Ram, Chris and Jah Shirt. The I-Tones formed around 1980 I were one of the first American reggae bands and got a few recording contract offers but they wanted to do things their own way and formed I-Tones Records to release their music on.

I met a few reggae stars like Albert Griffiths and Joseph Hill as a deejay at the Front and of any club I've ever played or gone to, the Western Front had the best vibes. They even had their own ital chef, Phillip who cooked up meat pies, curried goat and rice and peas in a small dining area downstairs. The music was upstairs. The Western Front is alive, well and still in buisness when most of the 80s era clubs in Boston are long gone. It will always be a special place for me.


The marquee and entry to the Western Front in Cambridge

The music video below is for their 12" single which was filmed in Paris but only the singer and bass player, Ram travelled to Paris for the film shoot there. The video of the full band was shot on the tiny ground level performing stage upstairs at the Western Front.

The video and single of Walk On By got a lot of attention and airplay in Europe but didn't do much business in the USA. The I-Tones finally called it quits in 1990 much to the dismay of loyal fans that followed the I-Tones for nearly a decade. The band played a big role in my own musical education and I'm glad this lost video of the band was finally unearthed by an old I-Tones fan.

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Old 03-21-2010, 10:33 AM   #95 (permalink)
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U-Roy Rocks the Dancehall with Runaway Girl



(left) Cover of a 1975 Jamaican Album by U-Roy (right) Photo of Richard Branson in 1975, the year his Virgin/Frontline label released Runaway Girl. Branson has hardly aged over the past 35 years and Sir Richard's good health is a testimony to the beneficial effects of reggae music and ganja use on human test subjects.In a similar fashion, U-Roy has remained eerily ageless over the past three and a half decades.


Runaway Girl Is An Early Success For Branson's Virgin/Frontline Record Label

In 1975 Virgin Frontline Records released Runaway Girl by Jamaican dancehall deejay U-Roy. Runaway Girl was a massive dancehall hit and one of the first big success in the UK for the Virgin/Frontline label, which was founded by Richard Branson to bring reggae music to a global audience. Reggae music fans know the rest of the story: The mighty U-Roy became international star and is the acknowledged father of all reggae deejays. At age 63, U-Roy is alive, well, touring all points of the globe and sounding better than ever.

Sir Richard Branson will turn age 60 in June and has became a celebrated icon global capitalism. In 1984 Branson founded Virgin Atlantic Airlines and in 2004 Branson co-founded Virgin Galactic a space tourism company that intends to make space flight available to the public. Branson's personal fortune is estimated at $2.5 billion (1.5 billion in the UK) and current ranks 261 on the Forbes 500 list of the world's wealthiest individuals.

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Old 03-26-2012, 08:45 AM   #96 (permalink)
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I could post the best song youd ever hear here but the site isnt letting me post links. dang
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:32 AM   #97 (permalink)
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I could post the best song youd ever hear here but the site isnt letting me post links. dang
You seem so sure of yourself.
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:11 AM   #98 (permalink)
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I could post the best song youd ever hear here but the site isnt letting me post links. dang
I'd wager it's Bob Marley.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:08 PM   #99 (permalink)
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Just discovered this thread & have saved the first page and a halves songs to a playlist in Spotify (although there were 4 or 5 that Spotify didn't have) and will add more from this thread when I get familiar with those tracks.

Cheers Gavin!
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Old 08-04-2012, 11:41 PM   #100 (permalink)
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Lovin this thread.
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