April 20, 2016

Reggae books rundown

krikon

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jamaicanwarriors
Jamaican Warriors (Stephen Froehr)
I don’t know what to make of this book, i got mixed feelings! Regardless of what you think of Mr. Froehr as a person he is a good writer. His research is top notch, he presents stuff in a straight forward way and bombards us with facts without being overwhelming. Whit that being said, at times he has a real superior attitude. At one point he writes of Jamaican men as bad lovers because they don’t like to perform oral sex (it’s my opinion that you should not be judged for not liking it or for liking it, your sexual preferences only concern you and your partner) and his writings on some of the persons he meets is a bit insulting (esp. when he meets Mortimer Planno), that bugs me.
The book itself is a mix between an fascinated outsiders expose’ of the reggae industry and an traveling book. He meets tons of interesting folks, gives us plenty of background info along with tons of tourist observations and anecdotes. We get pieces on “Mortimo Planno”, “Leonard Howell”, “Sugar Minott” and many more. Regardless of what you may think of Mr.Froehr and his approach you will learn plenty from reading this book and considering you can get this book for like $2-3 + shipping it’s a great purchase.
jamdan
Dancehall, the rise of Jamaican Dancehall culture (Beth Lesser)
Without a doubt, this will go down as one of the ultimate books on reggae ever made, from the photos all the way down to written material, this book leaves little left to be desired. If you’re into the 80ies reggae scene this book is an treasure. While being an “coffee table” photo book the accompanying text is very good and just as much an reason to buy it as the photos. I absolutely love the sense of fashion many of these folks have, they truly make something out of nothing.
 This is an eyewitness account of the scene, Beth Lesser and her husband spent a lot of time down in Jamaica, hung around the artists, gained their trust and befriended them. Doing so they where probably able to get a lot of material and insight a regular journalist never would. Together with books like “Volcano Revisited” and “King Jammy’s” it provides a more complete documentation of the scene than what makes sense. Hopefully the other eras in the history of reggae will be just as comprehensively researched and documented as the late 70ies and early 80ies have. Last time I checked on Amazon it was out of print and used copies went for like +$200 so u may have to pay a bit for it, well worth it though. A must, both for the photos, texts and layout.
reggaeint
Reggae International (Stephen Davis & Peter Simon)
The title of this book is misleading, it hints at documenting Reggae around the world but at the time this book was written there was no international scene (besides England, wich this book briefly deals with) except for Jamaican immigrants trying to create a slice of home abroad and a few scattered clicks of international fans with the focus on Jamaica.
 This is not a bad book though (although a bit predictable) and has chapters on the history of Jamaica, it’s religious life, RastafarI, the history of Jamaican music, Deejays, vocal trios and political unrest. It’s accompanied by a wealth of images and most definitely a recommended purchase. It has been out of print for a while now but can still be found in good shape and for a decent price on Amazon.
roughguide
The Rough Guide to Reggae (Steve Barrow)
There is a book called “Reggae & Caribean Music”, an attempt to write an encyclopedia on everything Reggae. I am not crazy about it and feel it lacks in several departments. I guess this is the successful version of that book. You don’t read “The Rough Guide to Reggae” from page to page. There is no coherent narrative that ties everything together. However, this is one of the most complete books on Reggae you will ever read.
 It covers every era and all kind of artists and scenes. Early “Ska” and “Rocksteady”, 70ies Roots, dub and recent dancehall all along with local scenes like New York (Wackies) and British Reggae (Roots as well as “Lovers rock”) in easy to digest, compressed pieces. There are several editions of this book available while each is slightly updated and expanded there’s no need to buy them all, another must have addition to your Reggae library.
one
One love, One heart (James Haskins)
It’s every parents duty to be a positive influence in their childrens life and what could be a better example of this than to steer them into the wonderful world of Reggae? But besides bombarding them with music, how do you do it? Perhaps with a book aimed especially for children, it’s a very thorough book starting with the history of Jamaica, slavery, african roots and RastafarI. It’s amazing how “James Haskins” is able to pack so much information into so few pages and still keep it easy enough for a child to understand. He continues with Jamaican music history, how it ties to african traditions, the birth of Ska and it’s transformation to Rocksteady and later on Reggae.
He deals with soundsystems, “Bob Marley”, the Roots Reggae of the 70 ies and more modern dancehall. The final chapter deals with International Reggae and has info on African acts like “Alpha Blondy” and “Lucky Dube” only to continue with Europe and the UK where he mentions that the original skinheads where white, British teens fascinated with Jamaican music, not the Racists many think of today. Sprinkled throughout the pages are a bunch of photos and in general im quite impressed with this book. It may not have that much to offer to adults but it’s an excellent way to introduce kids to Reggae.