Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

This Is Reggae Music

The Story of Jamaica's Music

by Lloyd Bradley

“The most thorough attempt yet to tell [reggae’s] who story. Although the author, the British music journalist Lloyd Bradley, wasn’t around to witness at first hand most of the developments he describes, he has spent six years talking at length to many of the people who made them happen–and his whole life, by the sound of it, loving every last detail of the music and memorizing its gloriously rich and expressive slang. . . . He is as attentive to the island’s shifting social and political scene as he is to the gradual evolution of the music.” –The Sunday Times (London)

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 592
  • Publication Date October 22, 2001
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3828-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $17.00

About The Book

Jamaica is a small country in the Caribbean, 146 miles wide and populated by less than 3 million people. Nevertheless, it exerts a powerful hold on international popular music. 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 across the globe it always remained fluid, challenging, and distinctly Jamaican. Based on six years of research, original interviews with most of reggae’s key figures, and a lifelong enthusiasm for one of the most remarkable of the world’s musics, This Is Reggae Music is an indispensable achievement.

Praise

“Jamaican music at last has the book it deserves.”—Prince Buster, from the Foreword

“A celebration of a music and a culture from the grass roots up . . . written with passion, style, and gusto.”—The Independent on Sunday

“An expansive, impassioned history of reggae . . . An exciting and thorough sense of reggae’s originality and perseverance in the face of crooked businessmen, thuggish interlopers, and general apathy from the Jamaican establishment. This will be the standard reference on the subject.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“With flair, skill, passion and stamina, Bradley fluidly traces Jamaican music’s odyssey from the pure energy of 1950s Kingston’s open-air sound system scene to the eruption of homegrown ska. . . . insider-expert revelations will delight reggae’s many devotees.”—Publishers Weekly

“In a witty and engaging manner, [Bradley] traces the development of the genre from mento to sound system dances, ska, rock steady, reggae, dub, toasting (precursor to American rap), and many other offshoots.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“A genuine keeper among reggae books.”—Booklist

“In Lloyd Bradley’s long-awaited history, the ghettos and the ganja are explored alongside independence and international relations to produce a definitive account. . . . [An] informed analysis and intoxicating aural history.”—GQ (London)

“A brilliant, comprehensive history of Jamaica’s principal twentieth-century art form . . . Bradley deftly intertwines the key themes of the Caribbean island’s chaotic music industry and its checkered social history. Essential.”—Q Magazine (London)

‘should you want to know how Island Records found and champion of reggae Chris Blackwell arrived at ghetto music via being stranded on a reef and passing out before Rasta fishermen rescued him; why Peter Tosh always referred to Blackwell as Whiteworst; why Bob Marley was shot in the name of politics; or why the experimental producer and errant genius Lee ‘scratch” Perry was found walking backwards, striking the ground with a hammer after burning his studio down as reggae disintegrated into computer-led, bass-free rhythms; Bradley nails them all. For anyone who has ever shaken a stick at a skank.”—The Herald (Glasgow)

“There are as many versions of Jamaica’s music history as there are remixes of this month’s hot tune; reggae books have tended either to perpetuate the old myths or get it completely wrong. But Bradley has untangled the tall stories and written a compelling social and musical history . . . filled to the brim with anecdotes to keep the most hardened music-head happy.”—The Face (London)

“The most thorough attempt yet to tell [reggae’s] who story. Although the author, the British music journalist Lloyd Bradley, wasn’t around to witness at first hand most of the developments he describes, he has spent six years talking at length to many of the people who made them happen—and his whole life, by the sound of it, loving every last detail of the music and memorizing its gloriously rich and expressive slang. . . . He is as attentive to the island’s shifting social and political scene as he is to the gradual evolution of the music.”—The Sunday Times (London)

“An in-depth and comprehensive study of reggae and its origins . . . that will appeal to the casual reader as well as to aficionados. From the pioneering sound systems of the 1950s through to the ‘digital present” via ska and dub, Bradley’s reverential awe of the music, and of its practitioners, is apparent. . . . This is a book many musicians would benefit from reading. . . . The technological and production aspects of Jamaican music, with its history of tireless innovation, are also discussed in depth and at length in the book, with the debt owed by other genres of music well acknowledged. . . . Dizzying in its scope, yet at the same time meticulous in its attention to detail.”—The Independent on Sunday (London)

“[This Is Reggae Music] attempts—and succeeds—to chart the history of reggae; Jah, guns, politics an” all. With rare suss, a sharp critical acuity and an informed sense of where the music came from and where it’s going to, this welcome study is as positive as it is lively, and as refreshing as it is definitive.”—Time Out (London)

‘lloyd Bradley’s meticulous book traces not only the growth of an art form, but also explores Jamaica’s struggle to define its own culture. Bradley’s anecdotal stories are excellent, and his love of the music and the culture that inspired it is evident at every turn.”—The Latest (UK)

“Every contemporary music form owes reggae money, or at least a debt of influence. Lloyd Bradley plots the course of the sounds that have pulsed from the island; in the days when Jamaican performers copies the look and sound of US R&B artists, up to modern dancehall, taking in roots, dub and rocksteady along the way. Bradley illustrates superbly how the music of the dispossessed, the ‘sufferers,” became a global force, and how Jamaica forged its identity through drums and bass. Crucial.”—The Big Issue (London)