Gangs of Jamaica: Babylonian Wars

Gangs of Jamaica

Calling all reggae fans, dancehall fans, Jamaicans, American tourists, Americans in general, hippies, policemen, gangsters, journalists, politicians and academics: If you belong in any one of these groups, then you’ll find something in Thibault Ehrengardt’s book Gangs of Jamaica: Babylonian Wars that will make you angry. If you can hold back the bile, though, you’ll also find this book highly entertaining. read more »

East of the Psychedelic Nile

Augustus Pablo’s music has assured him an everlasting place in reggae history, but with his son Addis stepping forward in similar fashion, the spotlight has recently returned to the melodica master. It’s timely then for Giullame Méténier’s Soul Sugar outfit to release a re-cut of the 1977 classic ‘East of the River Nile’ that captures the psychedelic essence of Pablo’s tune and turns it up to eleven.


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Hard on the Rootsman: The Martin Campbell interview

Intro note: This interview was originally published in Irie Up issue twelve.



How do you describe reggae artist Martin Campbell? His music is authentically rootsy, his lyrics are properly prophetic, and with his Jamaican accent and rootical timbre, his fans assume that he’s a Rastafarian. Some know him, after one of his songs, as ‘The Rootsman’. Yet he’s not comfortable being labelled and in his own words, he’s not an easy man to pigeon hole. He simply trods his own path. read more »

Review: ShocWave

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Shoc – Wave: A Bristol Story
Bristol Archive Records

Long before Massive Attack, Portishead and others of that ilk, Dominican expatriate Gene Walsh had a dream of establishing a record label in his adopted hometown of Bristol to promote the music of the local African-Caribbean population – and beyond. He eventually ran Shoc Wave from 1979 until 1991.
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Steamers a bubble: A mad catchy tune

We’ve been hearing this tune played out all over in the last few weeks. Then finding we can’t get ‘inna the yard’ out of our heads.

Inna the yard
St. Andrew Park
Music a bubble
Steamers a bubble

Protoje ft Chronixx – Who Knows

Peter Tosh: Many people will fight you down when you see Jah light

Many people will fight you down
When you see Jah light

There’s a whole world of reggae fans who see Bob Marley as a musician who sold out his career to make pop songs. Others observe that after an attempted assassination attempt, it was natural for Marley to row back on his more militant politics. Peter Tosh also suffered for his crusading views, and took physical and emotional beatings for his works, but it only made him more determined. Even Tosh’s friends were inclined to describe him as bigheaded, arrogant and eccentric – but was Tosh only trying to protect his integrity in a world awash with pretenders? John Masouri has just produced the first biography of the reggae star in The Life of Peter Tosh: Steppin’ Razor.

Tosh was much loved as a musician and singer but UK writer John Masouri’s biography sometimes makes for uncomfortable reading, though it’s a welcome addition to the library of serious music fans. Even those who loved Tosh found him to be difficult but Tosh had little time for ceremony in a world that he considered fundamentally unjust. Its subject proves to be a complex and unforgiving character with little of the ‘Redemption Song’ vibe that warms the hearts of Marley fans. “[Bob] was singing commercial songs acceptable in a commercial world” says Tosh, “but I sing songs of protest.” The book is generously leavened with anecdotes and juicy incidents, and readers will approach Tosh’s music with an extra layer of appreciation. read more »