Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mojo Feature on the Birth of UK Reggae

In addition to a feature on Bob Marley's eventful 1976 in JA, the September 2016 issue of Mojo contains a fantastic article on the late '70s home-grown British reggae scene wittily titled "Chant Down Albion." Using the April, 23, 1979 Special Patrol Group assault on the People Unite community center in Southall, London as a focal point (where anti-racist/fascist locals had fled a police riot after a National Front rally and an Anti-Nazi League counter-protest), the piece goes on to explain how the pervasive racism/oppression these black, British roots reggae musicians experienced from the police (who used the notorious Sus law as an excuse to stop and harass any non-white person), right-wing politicians, and many of their fellow countrymen led them to create some of the most powerful and political-charged reggae songs of the time. Highlighted acts/musicians include Misty in Roots (whose manager and studio engineer were seriously injured by the SPG attack--in addition, almost the entire band was arrested in the raid and their keyboard player left the band after spending several months in jail; Misty's recording studio was destroyed; and the SPG even smashed their records), Steel Pulse, Aswad, Dennis Bovell, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and reggae-loving punks The Ruts (Misty in Roots paid for their first recordings and "In A Rut" was the first release on the People Unite label; "Jah War" was a tribute to Misty's manager who was brutally beaten by the SPG).

There's one error to be aware of in the article--Rock Against Racism was not a campaign of the Anti-Nazi League, but its own organization that often held joint protests with the ANL.

Ska fans will also want to know that the free "Jamaican Explosion" CD that accompanies this issue contains a mix of familiar and somewhat obscure early 1960s material from Laurel Aitken, Prince Buster and The Blue Beats, Roland Alphonso, The Folkes Brothers, Byron Lee and The Dragonaires, Rico, Jimmy Cliff, Don Drummond, Lord Creator, Derrick and Patsy, and more.

Just a reminder--this is old-school media. There's no online version of the magazine. To read the articles, you have to buy a physical copy...

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Unknown said...

There seems to be a run of good articles in UK magazines at present. Vive La Rock #38 has a 16 page special on 2-Tone which might also be of interest.

Steve from Moon said...

Thanks, James! I haven't seen this issue of Vive Le Rock yet at my local newsstand! Will be sure to look for it!