In this section we review some of the most essential reggae related books avaliable. You can purchase all these books thorough our partnership with Amazon in the UK and the US.
Young Gifted & Black: The Story of Trojan RecordsMichael De Koningh and Laurence Cane Honeysett.
(Sanctuary publishing, April 2003)
Over the last few years there have been a number of excellent books on the progression of roots music and the powerful bond (culturally, historically and musically) between UK and Jamaica. Lloyd Bradley’s book “Bass Culture” was evocative and powerful, capturing the mood and enthusiasm of roots and culture as it found its way and developed its own identity on English soil. Later, the renowned Penny Reel published “Deep Down With Dennis Brown”, proving that he is surely the most dedicated and accurate reggae historian in Europe, with an.......
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Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob MarleyTimothy White
This one of the most popular and best books published about the music and the times of Bob Marley. The author spent much time tracking down Bob, his musicians and his family for research and interviews in the late 1970s when Marley mania was at its global peak. He interviews with Robert Nesta Marley and his mother, Cedella Booker form the main source of material for this book and it is generally written in a very straight forward narrative style, presenting the life of Marley from his birth to his death as the epical story of a spiritual hero, destined from his birth to change. The book also covers the history of Jamaica politics and Jamaican music and is highly recommended to any fan.
Wake The Town and Tell the PeopleNorman C. Stolzoff
There are many books on reggae but very few on Dancehall. Norman Stolzoff looks at the culture of dancehall from a long term view - he first looks at its roots in slavery and the covers the early dancehall development in the 40 and 50s. His sources are very informative, for example he speaks to Winston Blake, operator of the Merritone sound system who has many interesting stories of the rivalry been Duke Reid and Coxsone. The book is very detailed and Norman's very objective and unpretentious style is refreshing. Later the author writes at length about the daily struggle of "no-name" hopefuls, trying to be dancehall stars. He hangs round a dub plate studio with The White Hall Crew as they are known, Norman gains some very insightful information and views from these young ghetto youths. The book also has very good descriptions of a Sound Clash between Stone Love and Kilimanjaro. One of the most comprehensive books on reggae. Buy it!.
The Rough Guide to Reggae (100 Essential CDs)Steve Barrow, Peter Dalton
This is excellent companion to The Rough Guide to Reggae below. It reviews classic albums from Ska, Rocksteady, Rockers, Dancehall, to the latest Sizzla, in more depth then the other book. If you are relatively new to reggae music this is the book to get to make your shopping list. For old time reggae fans it is still very informative and good to find out more about albums you already have in your collection. Incredibly good value at under £5.
Bass Culture: When Reggae Was KingLloyd Bradley
There are now many books telling the history of reggae music and although this book repeats a lot that has been written before it is still very entertainingly written. The author can be rather "music-journo" in his writing style, but it still has some interesting sections. He starts well with some good interviews from Prince Buster about the early years of sound systems but still misses out some major players on the scene (for example Duke Reid). There is good stuff about the UK Lovers and Roots scene using Dennis Bovell as the main source. There is also some interesting material about the Pama and Trojan empires, but it really is lacking in any real look at the digital era. To sum up: Lloyd Bradley has some good stuff along with a few holes in his history.
The Rough Guide to ReggaeSteve Barrow and Peter Dalton
It is now 4 year since the first edition and the new edition follows the same format, although there are now an extra 80 pages. The book includes interviews with lots of influential producers, musicians and singers and features excellent pictures, honest record recommendations, along with album covers. This book starts from the ska days and ends with the digital era (where most of the new material has been added). There are a few records, singers and producers which only get a very brief mention in the book, which maybe the next edition can include. It is not a book to read from beginning to end though, as it is not written as a story, and it is best to dip into when needed. Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton's book will probably remain the definitive work of reference for reggae fans for some time.
People Funny Boy: the Genius of Lee PerryDavid Katz
A very in-depth look at the maverick producer's life and times. David Katz's 461 page book starts by looking at his birth, move to Kingston and struggle as a producer in the cut-throat music industry. The most interesting sections are probably the material about working with the Wailers and then setting up his Black Ark Studio. David Katz also has very interesting insights into nearly everyone who Scratch worked with at that time , so this book is also a history of that era. The last section is about Lee Perry's post Black Ark life, away from Jamaica (mainly in London) and is quite difficult to read as it is really a catalogue of problems, second-rate music and ripoffs ,and it can be just too detailed. This book is incredibly exhaustive in every detail, including many amusing stories, of the chaos, accidents, and creativity of Lee "scratch" Perry.
Rude BoyChris Salewicz
This is a very readable book about a (white) man's journey around Jamaica and his experiences. Chris Salewicz visited Jamaica in 1978. From Bob Marley to reggae; through Obeah, voodoo and Rastafarianism; to, of course, ganja. Then there is piracy and slavery; political civil war; death squads or "badmen", and "Yardie" organized crime. In 1995 the house Chris was staying in was attacked by machete-wielding "badmen", an attack he has since investigated. In this book he has written about the history, culture, music and magic of Jamaica from his own personal experience of this island of paradoxes.