This is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica’s Music by Lloyd Bradley

This is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica's Music

Quite simply, this is a crash course on reggae music, it’s history and development, and an insight into many of the famous musicians and prodiucers from past and present who have helped to shape Reggae music. An essential and fascinating book from the same author that wrote Bass Culture.

From Prince Buster to Burning Spear, Lee “Scratch” Perry to Yellowman, Bob Marley to Shabba Ranks, reggae music is one of the most dynamic and powerful musical forms of the twentieth century. And, as Lloyd Bradley shows in his deft, definitive, and always entertaining book, it is and always has been the people’s music. Born in the sound systems of the Kingston slums, reggae was the first music poor Jamaicans could call their own, and as it spread throughout the world, it always remained fluid, challenging, and distinctly Jamaican. Based on six years of research, original interviews with most of reggae’s key producers, musicians, and international players — and a lifelong enthusiasm for one of the most remarkable of the world’s musics, This Is Reggae Music is the definitive history of reggae.

With flair, skill, passion and stamina, Lloyd Bradley fluidly traces Jamaican music’s odyssey, but the meat lies in how Jamaica’s poverty, societal strife and “politricks,” tempered by the creativity, spirituality and upbeatness of its people, yielded the music, which for better and worse reached the world.

Born in London to Jamaican immigrants, Bradley spent six years studying his subject. Avoiding the who/what/when tedium that encumbers many music histories, he reveals the whys and the hows. The legendary Prince Buster whets readers appetites in the foreword and throughout the book Bradley interviews the originators and major players (including Lee “Scratch” Perry, Big Youth, Burning Spear) for lengthy, lively quotes and anecdotes. He pays scholarly attention to musical detail and attempts to highlight everyone who has made reggae waves, not just the stars.

He writes, “It’s a brave publisher that will put out a volume about reggae in general without its jacket artwork conspicuously featuring Bob Marley’s face.” And a brave writer who forestalls addressing the master’s impact until the 17th chapter. “For many, Marley is reggae”; but it’s a “colossal irony that, during his tenure at the top, reggae’s most famous exponent exerted practically no influence over the music’s development at grassroots i.e., Kingston studios level.” Such insider-expert revelations will delight reggae’s many devotees.

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