This looks extremely promising from the folks on Beeb 4 for Friday.
John - That looks really excellent. I will certainly be watching it and look forward to hearing peoples comments on this thread. (On a very different note, this caught my eye. Tuesday on Radio 4 - "The Music That Melted") - Lat.
'My ears are alight' as someone once sang...
John et al,
Thanks for pointing to this. I rarely bother with tv listings !
It was a very enoyable programme in deed and might persuade me to try ( again )
to sort out the reggae crate in the loft
What's the next reggae item on R3 likely to be, I wonder ? ( always remember looking round at the radio when Verity Sharp played Dillinger's 'Cocaine In My Brain' ! )
Wasn't too struck on The Barbican do - I think the live audience got more out of it.
Really enjoyed this with Mrs W dancing in the lounge!
Need to dig out our Island albums, and Marleys, see if grand-daughter enjoys!
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Have you posted any images of the dancing, on-line ?
Not only did I enjoy the programme, I came to see how little I knew about reggae in Britain - some terrific stuff in there - that whole thing about the Sound System playing only Jamaican and them making the bigger holes in the record - and that strange flat somewhere in suburbia, and the punk/reggae thing, and the death of reggae - and my wife was just lovin' the hats (not Boy George's one, mind you!)
Yes, I enjoyed it. All of these Britannia music programmes and series have been excellent. I knew a bit more about this one than I have known of several of the other genres. There was actually a fair bit of reggae in the singles charts when I was a nipper. Remember vividly The Israelites when aged five and could sing You Can Get It If You Really Want It shortly afterwards. All those fantastic singles like Young Gifted and Black, Double Barrel, Wonderful World, Beautiful People. They feel like they are in my musical blood. Marley, of course. If anything, I identified with the ska/reggae side of punk than the rock and roll/glam side. I now love dub and early ska and I always liked a bit of lovers rock. Janet Kay's "Silly Games". What a single but timing-wise it was really closer to rocksteady. There were quite a lot of people of significance for me on the programme. Letts, Bovell, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Simenon etc. I have huge amounts of time for them all. Music was immensely important in the struggle for justice and in bridge building and we were all so fortunate to have such a wealth of cultural richness.
I was interested to see it ending with Soul II Soul in 1989 - a great soundtrack to that year in many ways, certainly in London, seemingly coming from every other flat window and car radio. There is something about that year - not quite the day the music died - but it became different from that point. I feel that it was the turning point for British and American black music. The start of the decline was the early/mid-1980s and by 1990 it had largely lost its soul. In fact, I'd say that it was no longer evolving then, at least in the same way, although those involved in hip-hop and dance may wish to differ. There was some really dreadful reggae material in the charts in the nineties while soul just disappeared. It seems to me that world music has filled this vacuum to some extent while doing a tremendous amount more. Among other things, this reflects the ways in which the world has opened up to travellers. There are not so many who have never been abroad or at most just visited the tourist parts of Spain or the countries of their families' origins. On the plus side, there are some hints across the industry that this may be the decade when musicality comes back although progression is probably more likely to involve dabbling rather than anything as radical as we had for thirty years.
I have some slightly uneasy feelings around parts of the dialogue in this programme and others like it. Slightly controversial and I never know if I should say it for fear of being seen to be politically incorrect. However, on balance, I always feel that truths away from the usual mantras are enlightening, if emanating from good places. One is that I tend to get rather irritable about the shorthand political messages on race in the seventies. It is not the case that the welcome from working class and lower middle class whites was wholly frosty. There were many of us who positively welcomed difference, for want of a better word, and actually from the late-sixties there was no colour bar on television for musicians. As for radio ignoring black music, soul and reggae were huge on radio in the early seventies because they were so frequently in the Top 30. What I don't think we got was the direct experience of a system that was often discriminatory notwithstanding the 1976 Race Relations Act, although we sympathised as youngsters and in some ways also identified with the lack of power.
The second I think - and this is possibly almost unsayable in some places - is that there was actually an interest in what were then foreign cultures because they were less known, misunderstood, and rarer. Such things added to the charm. It might sound terribly patronising, it might sound like dilettanteism, it might even sound offensive, but it was true and personally I've never been prepared to accept a rewriting of history to suit current norms. It was of its time. It wasn't such a bad thing. It led to a decent sense of politics in many. Some right-on middle class types - far from all - would sneer at the remoteness this conveys but that would be to get it all wrong. I had a Jamaican teacher who was of all my teachers the biggest influence on my life and I spent much of my time with family in inner London where there was already a real cultural mix. Close to this perspective is a book that has been both applauded and condemned and just happens to be written by the grandson of one of my late grandmother's friends. I've never met him but it does reveal how the white working class has often been unfairly pilloried by Guardian-esque and New Labour revisionists -
Last edited by Lateralthinking1; 13-02-11 at 01:21.
Anyone here remember LKJ's "From Mento to Lovers' Rock" series on Radio 1, back in the early '80s? Can't quite recall whether it went into the area of Reggae Britannia. I did have the whole series saved on cassette, but not one of them remains now.
Damn it! Just discovered 6 Music rebroadcast it last summer. Anybody here record it?
I'm glad you felt it appropriate to make the points you did, despite fearing some comments of patronising or politically incorrectness.
My family is mixed race and so I can speak from 'the experience' of the last four decades in the UK, and agree with much if not all you have said. Yes there was what might be called racist attitudes from many white folk in the 1970s/80s but also a lot of what you say as 'interest' from other white folk in black culture and music in particular. Watching Reggae Brittania brought back many fond memories of the old reggae music which is rarely heard now (and in our family only at parties!) and also memories of the inner-city riots; I worked in Ladywood Birmingham at the time and knew Lozells and Handsworth well (and bought Steel Pulse's brilliant album!). And we lived in Coventry throughout the Ska-TwoTone years, great fun years for youngsters then.
Yes reggae was much in the charts back then, because it had wide appeal, not just black listeners, and 'lover's rock' dominated late night music on many commercial radio stations for over a decade, and indeed still features on many commercial stations' evenings now. In Birmingham nowadays, the Rastafarian culture is now very low key in comparison to the 1970s/80s; a new generation has become more 'British'.
Mrs W has 'Silly Games' as the tone for her mobile text message, cute you might think but it does go on for three minutes if not attended to!
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