Calling all reggae fans, dancehall fans, Jamaicans, American tourists, Americans in general, hippies, policemen, gangsters, journalists, politicians and academics: If you belong in any one of these groups, then you’ll find something in Thibault Ehrengardt’s book Gangs of Jamaica: Babylonian WarsÂ that will make you angry. If you can hold back the bile, though, you’ll also find this book highly entertaining. read more »
Many people will fight you down
When you see Jah light
There’s a whole world of reggae fans who see Bob Marley as a musician who sold out his career to make pop songs. Others observe that after an attempted assassination attempt, it was natural for Marley to row back on his more militant politics. Peter Tosh also suffered for his crusading views, and took physical and emotional beatings for his works, but it only made him more determined. Even Tosh’s friends were inclined to describe him as bigheaded, arrogant and eccentric – but was Tosh only trying to protect his integrity in a world awash with pretenders? John Masouri has just produced Â the first biography of the reggae star inÂ The Life of Peter Tosh: Steppinâ Razor.
Tosh was much loved as a musician and singer but UK writer John Masouriâs biography sometimes makes for uncomfortable reading, though itâs a welcome addition to the library of serious music fans. Even those who loved Tosh found him to be difficult but Tosh had little time for ceremony in a world that he considered fundamentally unjust. Its subject proves to be a complex and unforgiving character with little of the âRedemption Songâ vibe that warms the hearts of Marley fans. â[Bob] was singing commercial songs acceptable in a commercial worldâ says Tosh, âbut I sing songs of protest.â The book is generously leavened with anecdotes and juicy incidents, and readers will approach Toshâs music with an extra layer of appreciation. read more »
Is this another way of talking about the meaning of dub?Â The reggae scene, perhaps especially the dub scene, is quite an insular business and this is also reflected in what’s written about the music. Yet some of the best writing about reggae comes from broader musical culture. For those of you interested in sound system culture, there’s not much written that can touch the reggae chapter in Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’. (Just read in the promo notes that the Nazis invented clubbing. Don’t remember reading that part before). So we’re going to be sharing some weird and wonderful stuff from the world of music.
On the cover, youâll see Volcano Hi Fi selecter Danny Dread and Burro Banto prepare for a session in autumn 1983 during the short lived reign of Henry Junjo Lawes soundsystem. The journalists behind the Finnish magazine Cool Runnings spent a few months with the Volcano crew and their book Volcano Revisited is a treasure of a story. They caught a moment when the music in Jamaica was changing, as Coxsone departed to New York and the record companies had abandoned Jamaica. Lawes and the Roots Radics were defining the future of dancehall music. The regular Volcano DJs and singers included Barrington Levi, Burro Banton, Josie Wales, Tony Tuff and Charlie Chaplin.Â Irie Up talks to author Pekka Vuorinen about a special piece of reggae history.Â more inÂ issue 10
Babylon, more accurately âMystery Babylonâ, is a central theme in reggae music, but what exactly is it? Some people think itâs the police, others say itâs the Vatican, and others say itâs a state of mind â a mental slavery, so to speak. But is âMystery Babylonâ a symbol of something else, or does it actually exist? The signs are all around us that âMystery Babylonâ does indeed exist, and the mass media is its biggest and most successful project.