Monday, February 11, 2013

Amazon's Book Reviews: Reggae History Month

This is a review for The Encyclopedia of Reggae: The Golden Age of Roots Reggae by Mike Alleyne - Whether you are new to reggae / Jamaican music or been a passionate listener for years this is a must have. Dr Alleyne does a fantastic job covering all the major players and those whose work time may have forgotten in one place. The real defining attribute to this book is the narrative written for each artist, producer, historical figure, etc. Unlike other genre overviews, The Encyclopedia of Reggae significantly benefits from the sole voice of Dr. Alleyne. There are no contradictions, long held but summarily disproved myths or over emotive descriptions. Each entry deftly lays out the who, what, when, where, why it is / they are significant and recounts the artists key discography. A fan and some what scholar of early Jamaican music myself, if found little to dispute over any lack of inclusions or over stated relevance. Rather, I read the book cover to cover and agreed with each choice, learned a lot of new information and realized there are quite a few hole in my record collection that need plugging thanks to this definitive account of reggae, ska, rock steady, dub, mento and Jamaican music. Read more:

This is a review for This Is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica's Music by Lloyd Bradley - An overall delightful and informative read, every page of this book is animated by Lloyd Bradley's unflagging love for reggae music -- a passion that took him all over Jamaica, England, and the States in a quest for first-hand accounts and setting-the-record-straight interviews. It is also this true fan's passion that guides his writing, which is strangely informal, as if Bradley is explaining the history of reggae to you while you buy him pints down at his favorite local. While for the most part, this chatty style is kind of fun, it does detract a bit from the more scholarly tone Bradley occasionally adopts when discussing religion and politics. And, like any fan, Bradley is quite opinionated -- it's easy to sense his likes and dislikes, the latter of which seems to include most reggae performed after the 1970s. This is very much a book about ska, rocksteady, and roots reggae. (Bradley is almost ridiculously biased against Bob Marley's Island work as well, and makes some rather amusing and almost charmingly against-the-grain assertions about Marley's later catalog.) Additionally, there are a few chapters on British reggae, which -- let's face it -- are nowhere near as interesting as the Jamaican material. It would have been better if Bradley would have written a separate book on English reggae and devoted the extra space to a deeper exploration of dancehall and ragga. But despite these quibbles, the book is definitely worth reading, and contains many wonderful insights and anecdotes. Read more:

This is a review for The Reggae Scrapbook by Roger Steffens,Toots Hibbert - Page after page, Reggae Scrapbook delights. If you're like me, you'll get your hands on this and wonder whether to read it properly as one should with all books, from start-to-finish, or consume it giddily, turning at random for the treats. At one point, the Scrapbook opens to a splashy little 12-page magazine gummed to the page about the phenomenon of Jamaican dances. Page 43 contains an envelope with three gorgeous postcard-sized photo/illustrations of Haile Selassie. Fastened elsewhere in the book are concert handbills (pages 11, 91 and 129), two panels of peel-away stickers (page 81), miniature reproductions of singles in little white sleeves (pages 85 and 139), some of them autographed by the artists. (Among the latter is Cornell Campbell, who writes a sleeve note correcting a mis-identified 45 of "You're No Good.") Steffens and Simon, mighty repro men for the reggae generation, leave no dead space anywhere in this deluxe volume. Read more:

No comments:

Post a Comment