|Beth Lesser - Reggae Quarterly|
Beth Lesser - Rub A Dub Style -
"Dave and Beth are loved in Jamaica" Augustus Pablo told me that way back in 1986. It was real compliment from a great man. The eight editions of RQ are all essential. They pull together all the various strands that made up dancehall. Last year Beth mentioned she was working on something new.
A year later and here it is. The most comprehensive guide to dancehall yet! This review is in two parts because so far I have got about half way through the book.
Every aspect of the dancehall is covered from sound systems, to deejays to producers.
What Beth captures so well is that nearly every aspect of the Dancehall style was new. That is what made it so exciting. Although its foundation or foundations were strong. Studio One/Treasure Isle/King Tubby.
You want to know about Jah Love, its here. Briggy its here. Can't understand the battle between Culture and Slackness its here. Echo and Stereophonic its here. Junjo and Jah Life its here. The Roots Radics its here. A major work for all the dance hall fans. Like I said this is Part One. Version Two good for you soon come. To obtain a copy please go to -
After Junjo, came George Phang's 'Powerhouse' label. Unlike Junjo's George tended to pick and mix artists who had already made an impact in the dancehall. Barrington, Sugar, Little John, Half Pint and Frankie Paul.
Although's to George credits - he did push the likes of Michael Palmer and Echo Minott. All this and more is explained.
Next up is a chapter on Dubplates and Specials. The latter more than anything else for most people - brought the dancehall scene into disrepute. You can learn more about this problem in the few pages here than you could anyone else!
Other subject touched on next are Radio in Jamaica and Distribution. Just at the time Junjo was bringing in the dancehall, Mikey Dread was doing this on the airwaves - and is given full credit here.
The book takes in Metromedia, Youth Promotion, Arrows, Stur Mars. And finally concludes with the emergance of King Jammys, and his battles with King Tubby - before Gussie Clarke a major producer of the seventies brings the eighties to a close. They were the golden years of Dancehall.
What came next is the stuff of nightmares!!! Beth does a very good job at trying to explain what happened - but even after 20 years of the event - its not really clear why at the beginning of the nineties reggae music had got itself into such a state.
That book as yet to be written. I'm sure it will, and lets hope that someone like Beth writes it!!!
Dancehall - The Story Of Jamaican Dancehall Culture - Beth Lesser - Soul Jazz - 218pp £19.99
Reggae Quarterly was published eight times from 1981 to 1988. In that time Dave and Beth Kingston captured exactly what was going on in reggae music. Every edition was like an event! People loved RQ - and Augustus Pablo told me that Dave and Beth were loved in Jamaica. RQ covered reggae music not just dancehall. Roy Shirley gave them a great interview, Burning Spear did, and of course Augustus Pablo.
Of course the driving force in reggae music in the eighties was 'Dancehall' and its this aspect that is best remembered from those editions of RQ. Dancehall was viewed as some kind of sickness back then. A fever that would pass. Well it didn't pass. Next year 2009 will make its 30th Birthday!!!! And its this aspect of the book that interests me the most.
Dave and Beth got it so right in those eight editions - could Beth sum up dancehall today. Reggae music is today on its knees. Some would say in ICU. And a lot of these problems can be traced all the way back to 1988/89 It was around then that the sound system - the engine that had powered reggae music from the start - changed. The deejays were replaced by dubplates or so called specials.
On page 180 of this massive book in a chapter called 'The Decline And Fall Of Dancehall' its all explained. by Beth. Quotes from all the leading figures are here. My favourite is from Big Jack Scorpio - while my good friend Dennis Alcapone also makes the same point.
Anyway this is a book that celebrates reggae music its huge - the nearly the size of a LP. Its packed with photos in full colour. And its a great work. Congratulations to all concerned.