I have to say, this is probobly my favorite book. A true musical bible written for the reggae obsessed (or even just reggae curious) by the reggae obsessed. A true labor of love by its authors, long time reggae fans themselves (Steve Barrow being that founder of the very successful Blood and Fire reggae reissue label and Peter Dalton, a writed involved in the music for over 20 years with Barrow).
Reggae The Rough Guide begins of course at the beginning, the very beginning. Tracing the roots of Jamaican music back to Mento. Although I'm not too interested in Mento, anyone who should be interested is treated to in depth history, artists, a few music reviews and some excellent period photos. The book for me really begins to take off with the beginning of the Jamaican Rhythm and Blues and Ska sections. There is so many great behind the scenes stories on producers, early studios, artist interviews, record reviews (with markings saying if an album is released on CD or Vinyl and a big E saying if they think a certian record is essential or not.)
This excellent writing style is carried on through a sub section titled "Rude Boy Music" which they see as the middle music between the Ska and Rocksteady eras. There are also chapters for Rocksteady, Early Reggae (1968-1973), Roots Reggae (1974-1979), Dub, Dancehall, Ragga and the digital rhythm makers of the mid 1980's through to the modern days. International reggae also gets chapters for reggae made in the UK, the USA and Africa.
Everyone is here too it seems. Even if its just a record review. There are features on every major name like The Skatalites, Bob Marley, Lee Perry, Burning Spear, Big Youth, U Roy, Sly and Robbie,and so many others. The interviews are with such singers, producers and engineers like Johnny Moore of the Skatalites, Dobby Dobson ("Loving Pauper" fame), Brent Dowe, Sonia Pottinger, Larry Marshall, Delroy Wilson, Clancy Eccles, King Stitt, U Roy, Dillinger, Yabby You, King Jammy, Sylvan Morris, Scientist and many others.
Not too much needs to really be said about this book which hasnt been said already. The book is literally booming with facts, stories, informative record reviews, artist producer and engineer perspectives, and so on. This is a critical book to add to a reggae library. For serious fans and people just dabbling, alike. Another great thing about this book too is that it seems to give Reggae even more cerdibility as it is treated as such a heavy subject as books on more accepted genres of music like Jazz and Rock are. A second edition has just been published, though I have not read it personally, it looks thicker and I am excited to get my hands on it.
Click Here for "Reggae: The Rough Guide":
1 Mercer St.
London, WC2H 9QJ
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