Rub A Dub Style – the Roots of Modern Dancehall – by Beth Lesser


This book is a must own for anyone interested in the history of Jamaican music, particularly the wonderfully vibrant era of Dancehall in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.

Full of first person testimony and coverage of many artistes who rarely got recorded, let alone talked about after the event in any country other than Jamaica, or by the most dedicated of fans overseas.

Artists like Brigadier Jerry, Johnny Ringo, Early B, Charlie Chaplin, General Echo, Welton Irie, Lone Ranger, Sugar Minott all get an airing, and it’s great to really get a feel for the energy of Jamaican music during this era.

Anyone interested in ‘Reggae’ cannot deny that this was a time when Jamaican music was made for Jamaicans by Jamaicans and was undiluted by corporate strivations to make it appeal to bed sit hippies and bearded spliff heads with a degree in economics from Loughborough University.

For example, having never been interested in exploring the sub genre of slackness in 80s Jamaican music I now find myself ordering Welton Irie and Johnny Ringo Lps.

Beth was there, knew the artistes and loves the music and that shows.

The book as I have said is an absolute must own, in that it is so cork up with information and first person tale, that this alone makes it’s appeal.

Unfortunately the book suffers from the almost total lack of narrative voice and the narrative through line becomes little more than a fragmented exploration of the many aspects of ‘Dancehall’ and the Sound Systems that tell the tale. It’s a little boring how lack of authorial talent means that many people who have the opportunity to do something really amazing pass it by. Also the unfortunate frequency of typographical screw up, misspelling and grammatical error detract from the book and at times make it a frustrating read. There IS a reason why self publishing isn’t always the right or best option whatever the aim. However, it is just SO FULL of stuff you need to know, the sheer excitement of learning more makes it a page turner and a book I for one will return to again and again.

You can get it as an electronic download or online at lulu.com. I’ve got the paper version, and as I write it’s sitting by my bed awaiting another read, I think I might go to bed early tonight and ignore the wife’s appeals to my energetic side😉

~ by bigmikeydread on October 20, 2012.

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