In this section we review some DVDs that have caught our eye.
Made In Jamaica
Jérôme Laperrousaz’ Made In Jamaica is a sprawling yet refreshingly unpartisan documentary that gives equal focus to both roots reggae and it's brasher offspring dancehall. Shot on the island in 2004 and 2005 it features interviews and live performances from a commendably diverse range of Jamaican artists discussing music, sex, politics, religion and the grey areas in between.
On the roots/one drop side of things there’s Third World, Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs and Toots Hibbert. Representing dancehall are Lady Saw, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel. Then there are the artists such as Capleton and Tanya Stephens who sit astride the two styles suggesting their dichotomy may not be as clear as received wisdom would suggest.
Ted Bafakoulos’s Rockers is rightly regarded as the best of Jamaica’s classic reggae films: being more original than the derivative gangster tale The Harder They Come, and more heavyweight than the eccentric Countryman. It tells the fictionalised, subtitled, story of real life drummer Leroy Horsemouth Wallace, who has his bike stolen by the local mafia and enlists his friends – including Gregory Isaacs, Jacob Miller, Robbie Shakespeare and Leroy Smart – to exact an unusual brand of revenge.
Rockers ambles along at an easy pace, journeying from the city to the country and taking in various neighbourhood characters and places of historical reggae interest. Most of the cast are non-actors and they deliver their lines with a natural spunk and spontaneity. Of particular note are Horsey’s devout Christian grandmother (“You’re going the wrong way Leroy!”) and producer Joe (“I don’t give record - I sell record!”) Gibbs.
The Harder They Come (Remastered) DVD
2007, it seems, is a year for celebrating landmarks in Jamaican music. First we’ve had the 30th anniversary re-issue of Bob Marley’s Exodus, and now, a re-mastered DVD of the film that first took reggae international and ushered in the Marley era – Perry Henzel’s The Harder They Come.35 years after its first public screening, The Harder They Come remains the best loved of the classic reggae films - both motion picture and soundtrack are remembered so fondly that today they are almost indivisible in the popular imagination – and now you can reacquaint yourself with both thanks to this digitally polished DVD and CD package from Revolver Entertainment.
CULTURE: The Live Roots ToursFilmed at an intimate concert at The Buttermarket, Shrewsbury in August 2003, this sublime DVD captures a great Culture performance. This is the first in a series of Reggae DVDs which bring high production values to a genre which generally has has seen concert DVDs with less average quality. The two hour concert reaffirms Joseph Hill as one of the all-time great reggae writers. It is accompanied by a 40 minute interview by broadcaster and DJ Mark Lamarr in which Joseph gives us a glimpse of his unique view of life, reggae and rastafari. Above average reggae DVD in terms of camerawork, editing and audio.
Running time: 160 Mins
Sly & Robbie Live!This DVD features over two hours of hard driving Roots Reggae and Dub from the legendary 'Riddim Twins' Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare. The concert features some of the all-time classic riddimd ever produced in Jamaica such "Real Rock", "Stalag" and "Swing Easy" along with with the Taxi Gang's most famous riddims. Later in the concert special guest Bunny Rugs from Third World comes on stage and the delivers some classic Taxi gang produced songs such as Gregory Isaacs' "Night Nurse", The Tamlins' "Baltimore" (Originally by the Nina Simone), and Dennis Brown's "Revolution". Recorded live at The Buttermarket Jazz and Roots Club, Shrewsbury. The DVD even has the added bonus of an informative 35 minute interview with Radio 2 DJ Mark Lamarr. Excellent close up shots and the use of three cameras means contribute to the production values of both these DVDs being higher than this reviewer has seen on any other reggae DVD. Highly Recommended.
Running time: 170 Mins