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Old 01-21-2014, 09:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Golden Age of Reggae

Note to Reader: I'm going to attempt to reconstruct the journal I began way back in 2009 on the golden age of reggae. The links to all of the songs in the journal were cut off by YouTube over a dispute I had with them over the fair use of intellectual property back in 2011. It's now two and half years later (2014) and I won the dispute, and I'm allowed to post music on You Tube again. Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to attempt to reconnect all of the original links from The Golden Age of Reggae & perhaps revive the journal with some new posts. Below is a copy of the original post I opened the journal with in 2009.

--------------------------------------------

The Golden Age of Reggae
Historical Background

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 Barrett 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 consciousness became known as "reggae" all over Jamaica.


Chris Blackwell in the late Seventies

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.


Bob Marley

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 idiom into their highly stylized rock music. The Clash produced the Black Market Clash 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 spent 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 an influential force on the electronica scene with his Love Trio In Dub group.


U-Roy

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 maintaining 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 consciousness 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 71 years old, Burning Spear is 67 years old and the last young turks of the early 80s dub music movement like U-Brown & the Mad Professor are now in their middle aged 50s.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The Songs

Country Boy - the Heptones This is one of my favorite roots tunes in which the Heptones criticize a rude boy who grew up in bush country and moves to Trenchtown and gets himself in trouble by falling into the company of urban gunslingers and drug dealers. This is the original Channel One 1974 pressing of Country Boy is very hard to find and the most heartfelt version of the song that the Heptones recorded many times during their career.


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African Blood - Congo Ashanti Roy I found this song on a 1994 collection of Bill Laswell produced reggae songs called On U-Sound Crash Mix. I don't know anything about the history of the song but Congo Ashanti Roy is half of the legendary Congos vocal duo along with Cedric Myton.


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The Border - Gregory Isaacs Gregory is best known for his silky smooth renditions of lover's rock but throughout his careeer he wrote just as many sufferer's tales and roots conscious songs as love songs.

The Border is a sufferer's tale about a rastaman on the lam from the law. Gregory was writting from experience and he did more time in Jamaica's harsh General Penitentary than just about any other reggae singer.

This song was recorded sometime in the late Seventies and he's backed by the Revolutionaries a collection of various musicians that played as the Studio One house band, most notably Sly and Robbie. But Sly Dunbar isn't drumming on this cut... On the drum-kit for this session was Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace whose crisp, elegant, and riddimatically complex drumming makes him my favorite reggae drummer. The Tamlins are singing the sublime harmony parts on on the chorus of the song.


===========
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There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The Songs

Rub A Dub Sound - Sugar Minott The hypnotic groove of Rub A Dub rocked dancehalls from Kingston to Sav La Mar in 1980. The muscular drum and bass of Sly and Robbie drives the riddim of this Sugar Minott song.


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Under Mi Sensi - Barrington Levy Like Rub A Dub Sound, Under Mi Sensi is a riff driven song with a mezmerizing drum and bass line. Recorded in 1984, Under Mi Sensi is one of the most sampled songs in the history of reggae. It's a killer riddim.


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Peace and Love in the Ghetto - U-Roy This the first single by a reggae toaster I ever purchased and it's still my favorite. It came out in 1977 under the imprint of the newly founded Virgin Frontline label which was founded by British air travel tycoon Richard Branson. There's a lot of Studio One players on the song. Horsemouth Wallace's distinctive drumming drives the riddim and it's a version of the popular song The Man Next Door a song that was a big hit in Jamaica by Johnny Clarke and later a hit for Dennis Brown. You can find this song and 8 other smokin' toasts by U-Roy on Jah Son of Africa, perhaps the greatest deejay album ever to come out of Jamaica.


======
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There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The Songs

Hail Mi Idrin - Ina Kamoze - When I visited Jamaica in 1984 Ina Kamoze was being hailed as an inheritor of the roots conscious legacy of the the recently deceased Bob Marley. Ini recorded Hail Mi Idrin and about a dozen stellar tracks at Sonic Studios with Sly and Robbie. I love Kamoze's chilled out minimalist approach and the spacey dub sounds on the cut. Ini Kamoze never lived up to his early expectations but his first album the self titled Ina Kamoze is a reggae classic.


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Dance In A Greenwich Farm- Cornell Campbell - Cornell Campbell was a big star in Jamaica but never broke through as an international star. His smooth falsetto voice reminds me a lot of Smokey Robinson. Dread In A Greenwich Farm is typical of of the the long string of hit records during his collaboration with producer Bunny Lee at King Tubby's studio in the Seventies. There about a two dozen Cornell Campbell songs from his Bunny Lee/King Tubby period that are seriously dread. You can hear those tracks and others on the 2 CD Natty Dread Anthology recently reissued on the indie label Sanctuary.


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Gunman - Michael Prophet Gunman was Michael Prophet's commentary on the violence by gun and machete wielding possies who caused a great deal of violence leading into the 1980 Michael Manley vs. Edward Seaga presidential election. Michael Prophet wrote this song after a gang of gunmen rousted him out of bed one morning wanting to know who he was voting for in the presidential election. Most Rastafarians were supporters of Manley but as a group they steered away from the partisan fussing and fighting that dominated the Jamaican political world throughout the Seventies and early Eighties.


======
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There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
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Old 01-21-2014, 02:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This thread is so full of win! Cheers to you Gavin B!

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Old 01-22-2014, 12:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for your interest in old school, roots reggae. I'm hoping to get all of the broken links fixed by the end of the week and I'll start doing new posts by next week. I've been meaning to do the technical repairs to the links for over a year but I've been so busy with other things.

One love, brothers & sisters...
Gavin B.

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Old 01-22-2014, 10:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The Songs

Uptown Ranking - Athena and Donna This song by a pair of female vocalists blew my mind when I first heard it in 1978. The Joe Gibbs production on the single bubbles along while Athena and Donna throw down their seriously dread lyrics. It's an amazing cut.



==============

Make It Up - June Lodge Junie Lodge has been called the Diana Ross of Jamaica, but take my word for it, Junie is a whole lot better than Diana the diva. This song got a ton of dancehall play in 1980. Her winsome and elegant vocal on Make It Up established her as a major star in Jamaica in the Eighties.



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Mi God Mi King - Papa Levi This is one of the fastest reggae toasts ever recorded. Shortly into the song Papa Levi starts rapping in double time and his blazing speed outclocks any rapper or toaster I've ever heard. It was recorded at Taxi Studios with Sly and Robbie in 1984. One day when I had nothing better to do I translated and wrote down the amazing lyrics to Mi God Mi King and they're provided below the embedded You Tube video below.



Lyrics to Mi God Mi King
Intro:
yeah in smoking sensimelia,yuh gotta give thanks an praise unto di almighty LORD GOD JAHOVIA. do it JAH. murda.

chorus1x:

mi GOD mi king him name JAHOVIA
JAH MAN mi GOD mi king him name JAHOVIA

verse1:

HIM inspire mi to be a mic chantah
mi mass wid di mic rrroun di amplifiah
mi fling way di slackness cau now a culchah
di conscious lyrics yuh a go hear mi uttah
so if you are a adult or a teenagah
say everyday yuh wake yuh fi read a chaptah
beginning of wisdom is di fear of JAH
di bottomless pit mek wi trow lucifah
dem tek way wi gold JAH MAN dem tek wi silvah
dem heng mi puhpa an rrrape mi maddah
dem trick wi from di wondaful land a AFRICA
fi slave fi di plantation ownah
dem tek way wi name JAH MAN dem call wi niggah
di only word wi know "i is a coming mastah"
dem tell wi say wi ignorant an inferiah
an how dem intelligent an superiah
true di complexion of dem skin colah
but i as a yute bawn as a supah
mi badda dan di bite from a tarantulah
yuh hear fi mi voice a come tru di speakah
but it soun sweetah wid di echo chambah
say R fi di roots C fi di culchah
say S fi SELASSIE earth rightful rulah
say once as a lamb going to di slawtah
now di conquering lion a di tribe a JUDAH
yuh cann enta ZION wit a bushmastah
a m16 or a rrrevolvah
say tana babylon wid yuh ammunition
cau deh so a di ultamate destruction

bridge:

puhpa levi pon di version
hail JAH MAN a levi pon di version
how mi stay

verse2: (speed rap this verse)

JAH MAN mi cool nuh stubbon like mule
mi walk pon di street nuh gwaan foo fool
arrive a di dance di mic a mi tool
eat off a table sit on a stool
nuh black mi brown,mi brown nuh black
mi ribs deh a mi chest,mi spine in mi back
trousiz have pocket an pocket have flap
well soul a rock but REGGAE mi chat
cap a nuh buck an di buck a nuh cap
an di bottom a bass an treble a top
wheh hot nuh cold,di cold nuh hot
electricity can gi yuh a shock
nuh fraid fi nuh mouse nuh fraid fi nuh rat
stawt from di bottom mi reach to di top
eat up di snack di crackle di pop
mi run in di toilet fi cut di crap
mi hungry again mi nuh eat a snack
an from mi a yute mi nuh scowa nuh pot
fi mi head dread mi head it nuh platt
nuh live inna house mi live inna flat
lawd if yuh hear wen dis ridim drop
yuh head yuh toe yuh body a rock
from mi pon di mic it's a lyric attack
put slackness a bottom an culchah pon top
AFRICAN land affi i an i spot
in time ah trouble JAH naw tunn him back
mi pray to JAH mi neva will stop
who worship satan a foolish idiot
JAH blow breath di devil cannot
who get a bullet nuh mista Sadat
afta reagan public fiyah shot
MALCOLM X dem kill pon di spot
up inna ZION di righteous a clap
dung inna hell di wicked a rot
di sweetest singa a sugah minott
di madess comedian a kenny everett
dracula tunn inna vampiah bat
but wen him si sun him caan tek dat
yuh eye dem dawk affi use contact
but a me pon di mic is levi a chat
not so long JAH walk pon di lan
di peaceful righteous RASTAMAN
trod wid di MACCA B inna him han
preaching love to man an woman
him crucify by di roman
dem nail him to di cross tru him foot an him han
rise again di resurrection
well a him create di earth an heaven
tek six day nuh tek seven
give riches to king SOLOMON
make him wisa dan all odda man
EVE couldn't mek wid out ADAM
living in Babylon as a blackman
well all mi face is racism
wen mi weak dem say dat mi strong
wen mi right dem say dat mi wrong
true mi nuh check fi politician
nuh care who win di election
pon di mic mi please everyone
flashing down style an fashion

chorus:1x
then 1st verse to fade
__________________
There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
Townes Van Zandt

Last edited by Gavin B.; 01-22-2014 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The Songs

Ganja Smuggling - Eek-A-Mouse The charismatic Eek-A-Mouse has a completely unique singing and deejay voice. A lot of his singing sounds influenced by Arabic musical modalities of singing. Ganja Smuggling was released in 1982 and was produced by Henry Lawes and mixed by King Tubby and Prince Jammy at King Tubby's Firehouse. The Roots Radics lay down the riddim track and it's Eek's own epic saga of working as herbs smuggler.

Eek is a bit of a scary person who stands 6'6" tall. When he stayed at my house during a 1981 tour in Boston, he frequently would check out to get "sushi." Sushi, I later found out, was Eek's code word for cocaine.



============

Government Land- Horace Andy Government Land is Horace Andy's musical demand for land reform in Jamaica. It was a big hit for him in 1977. It was produced at Harry J.'s has an all-star studio group consisting of Jah Malla, Horsemouth Wallace, Leroy Sibbles, Michael Taylor, Andy Bassford, Privy Dread, Augustus Pablo, Bobby Kalphat, Bernard Touter Harvey, Tommy McCook, Don D. Junior, Charles Bashford, Dirty Harry, Scully Sims, Horace Hinds, and Sylvan Morris.

Horace has achieved international notoriety as one of the vocalists for the crossover trip hop and dub group, Massive Attack. Horace sings lead such Massive Attacks songs as Spying Glass, Man Next Door, and One Love.



===========================

A Song- Pablo Moses A Song was recorded in Jamaica using the island's finest session players and then remixed in London in 1980. It comes from an album with the same title and it established a cult following for Pablo Moses in Europe, South American, Canada and the USA. He backed off the reggae scene for several years but he's begun to tour again in Europe, Africa and South America where he draws large crowds. Pablo maintains a frequently updated page at My Space with great jukebox of his tunes.



=================
__________________
There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
Townes Van Zandt

Last edited by Gavin B.; 01-22-2014 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The Songs

3 Early UK Ska Hits

Carry Go Bring Come - Justin Hines and the Dominoes Justin Hinds and the Domino's Jamaican smash Carry Go Bring Come mashed up sound systems in the UK way back in 1964 and may be the earliest song with a Rastafarian message. Hinds has recorded the song dozens of times and it is one of the foundation songs of ska.



=======================

Red Red Wine - Tony Tribe The original of Red Red Wine by Tony Tribe was played at a much faster tempo than the 2nd wave UB40 version. It was another UK ska hit that got a lot of play in UK dancehalls during the first wave of ska.



====================

Pressure Drop - Toots and the Maytals Another early ska hit that folks in the UK are probably already familiar with. It was originally release on Trojan Records UK and included in the soundtrack of the epic reggae movie The Harder They Come This version is a beautifully restored and resmatered version of the 1972 original single.



=====================
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There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The Songs
3 American Hit Songs from From the Early Eighties



Nancy Reagan - Blue Riddim Band The most unlikely success in the history of the Reggae Sunsplash was the appearance of the Blue Riddim Band 5:45 in the morning on August 8 1982. It was unlikely because Blue Riddim Band was an all-white band from Kansas singing a song about Nancy Reagan.


The Blue Riddim Band

I was operating a video camera that was doing the pan shots of the crowd for a Sunsplash documentary and I was stunned at the enthusiastic reaction of the mostly all black Jamaican crowd. Even the mighty reggae singer Burning Spear (Winston Rodney) was skanking and clapping his hands to Blue Riddim's dubwise version of Nancy Reagan.

I have the rare 7" original single and dub version of the song which really smokes. I'm happy to say that Nancy Reagan is now available on iTunes as a digital download after 32 years of being out of issue.



================

No Vacancy - Sugar Minott Sugar Minott's populist cry for jobs in Jamaica was a monster hit in the island in 1982. No Vacancy refers to no job vacancies and it's a suffer's tale about humiliating state of poverty that exists on the island.

The lyrics are in the militant style and Sugar lays down the line with these lyrics:

Quote:
I man try and me nah try
But I just can't get reply
Applying to the factory
I-man's clothes are so shabby
Dem a people just a watch me

Everywhere you go it's no vacancy
They must fe waan me commit robbery
Everywhere you go it's no vacancy
Tell me how you gwan benefit me
No vacancy especially if you are natty


========================

Slave Market - Gregory Isaacs Soon Forward is a crucial album in the history of reggae music. It's 1979 and reggae was standing at the crossroads of roots conscious, dub and dancehall styles and this album pulled it all together into a collection of songs that stand up to the test of time. Slave Market is a sufferer's tale from that album and Gregory sings it with a winsome but fiery vocal. Sly and Robbie do drum and bass with most of the Roots Radics on other instruments. The Roots Radics were far and away the best studio musicians of golden age of reggae and Isaacs was using the Radics as his live backing band during this era.

Soon Forward was one of the earliest albums recorded at Sly & Robbie brand new Taxi studio and released the Virgin owned Frontline label in the UK and the USA.



=======================


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There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
Townes Van Zandt

Last edited by Gavin B.; 01-22-2014 at 05:29 PM.
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