Saluting Jimmy Cliff
By Clyde McKenzie
Jamaican musical icon James Chambers (we know him as Jimmy Cliff) was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a glittering ceremony in New York last week. Attorney- at-law Christopher Samuda, who along with his brother Milton and associate Dave McKenzie, was present for the historic occasion and reported that the response to Cliff’s performance of Many Rivers to Cross was simply surreal. The fact is that many Jamaicans do not understand the kind of impact that some of our Jamaican musical legends have on modern popular culture. We have to journey beyond our shores to secure a better understanding of this phenomenon. It is interesting to note that questions were being raised about the appropriateness of having Swedish pop sensation Abba (reputed at one time to be more important to the economy of their Scandinavian nation than car manufacturers Volvo). No questions were raised about Cliff’s eligibility, however; among the Rock cognoscenti he is the genuine article. The Jamaican Government had wisely awarded Cliff with the prestigious Order of Merit and the University of the West Indies has conferred an honorary Doctor of Letters on this distinguished Jamaican.
Cliff was instrumental in launching the career of the other Jamaican artiste who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Robert Nesta Marley. It was Cliff who introduced Marley to the powers that be at Beverly’s Records (a label headed by Leslie Kong, now deceased). Marley recorded his first two singles, One Cup of Coffee and Judge Not for Kong. Marley would later leave Kong to record for Clement Dodd’s renowned Studio One Label. Interestingly, Chris Blackwell notes that it was the departure of Jimmy Cliff from Island Records which perhaps paved the way for the phenomenal international success of Marley. According to Blackwell, he had identified Cliff as a potential megastar and had already set the wheels in motion for realizing this objective. Cliff, however, left Island for a more lucrative deal and Blackwell would turn his attention to Marley. I believe a story about how the lives of these three great Jamaicans intersected has the makings of a great movie. Of course, we should point out that another important figure in this story is the great Ernie Ranglin, who not only served as Jimmy Cliff’s musical director but was the head of A&R for Island Records. Blackwell has often reminded his audience that My Boy Lollipop is his favorite song of all time. This is understandable given the fact that it laid the basis for the unimaginable success of Island with the subsequent accomplishments of such legendary artistes such as Marley and U2, to name but a few. It was Ranglin who produced and arranged My Boy Lollipop.
I had the great privilege (which I shared with Nadine Sutherland) of interviewing Jimmy Cliff late last year as part of the CPTC Breakfast with the Stars series. I trust the public will soon be able to get a chance to learn a little bit more about Cliff, who shared some little-known aspects of his life with a live studio audience in this interview. When Cliff was asked to name which emerging Jamaican artiste has caught his attention. He simply burst into song: “No bwoy can’t carry me roun’ no kawna and show me no banana.” Cliff was clearly referring to Queen Ifrica, whose father, Derrick Morgan, was intimately associated with his own career. Everything seems to be so connected.
Cliff made one of his greatest contributions to the spread of Jamaican popular culture through the film in The Harder They Come. The December 2000 edition of Entertainment Weekly lists the release of The Harder They Come in the United States among its One Hundred Greatest Moments in Rock History. The only other Jamaican-related entry was that of Kool Herc “creating hip hop”. Rolling Stone magazine named The Harder They Come as “the best soundtrack of all time”.
Bob Dylan described Cliff’s Vietnam as the “greatest protest song ever written”. It is worth noting that artistes are usually not very generous in their assessment of their peers and so Dylan’s fulsome praise of Cliff, who is not an American, is truly worthy of comment.
Bruce Springsteen recorded Trapped, which was included on the We are the World album. Trapped was written by Cliff and actually appeared on the B side of one of his recordings. According to the story, Springsteen was walking through an airport and heard the song and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cliff has an amazing story which, sadly, in all likelihood, will be told by others. Since The Harder They Come, we have not had much to show by way of success in the motion picture business. This is not to say we do not have the talent to create great movies. We have cinematographers who are well-trained. We have produced actors who have enjoyed international success, and we have fascinating stories. However, the upfront (sunk) costs for making movies are prohibitively high. The biggest constraint to the development of our motion picture industry is funding. Trevor Rhone managed to get funding for his movie One Love( which introduced Jamaica and the world to the remarkable talents of Cherine Anderson) from overseas. Some of the money was accessed through the British Council, which provides grant funding for motion picture ventures. We need to establish similar mechanisms to the British Council in Jamaica to provide funding for talented creators.
The fact is that while the costs of creating movies have fallen considerably (due to the advent of digital technology) they are still quite height. What is now happening is that in many instances moviemakers are now avoiding cinematic releases and going directly to DVD. In fact, some movies now have their cinematic releases after the DVDs have entered the market. Nigeria has spawned a massive motion picture industry through this direct-to-DVD approach. We can do the same in Jamaica. I was really thrilled to hear about the production of the movie Concrete Jungle by a group of Jamaican inner-city youngsters. Art serves the function of negotiating concerns. Through the process of creation the artiste seeks to gain control of his circumstances. The process of artistic production lends itself to empathy and role playing. If we are going to arrest the crime monster, which seems bent on destroying our nation, we should look to the art for solutions. Many prisons have been successfully utilizing art in their rehabilitation exercises. There is much that we can learn from this. Source JamaicaObserver.com
Re-empowering the Unsung Wailers – The importance of Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston to Marley’s ascendancy
Herbie Miller, Contributor
Reggae month (February), also the earth month of Bob Marley and Dennis Brown, is a vital period in which to highlight the effort of historians and commentators who attempt to redress misconceptions perpetuated by clever record company public relations and publicity personnel and other interest parties that distort reggae music’s reality, purposely or innocently.
The case of the original Wailers, who were primarily Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, but at times included Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, Cherry Green, Rita Marley and Constantine ‘Dream’ Walker, is a paramount and instructive case. It is a case, which, according to a Marley insider, without any apology, seeks to “position Bob in the public consciousness morning, noon and night”. What was implied is that this would be done without much, if any, mention of the others who have been part of the group.
Some time ago, on a Sunday morning, I listened to a popular radio DJ play an extended selection of old Wailers recordings. It was the beginning of the week that would mark Peter Tosh’s birthday. The DJ repeatedly referred to the selections as Bob Marley’s without acknowledging the others, even when Tosh or Livingston was obviously the lead singer. He did so on some selections in spite of the fact that Bob was clearly not present on some songs. After repeatedly doing so, I decided to call the radio station and point this out to the DJ and to also suggest that he dedicate the session to Peter Tosh since Tosh’s birthday was a few days coming in the middle of the week. He, in no uncertain manner, let me know he knew what he was doing and didn’t need my opinion. The DJ went back on the air and said: “A bredda just call and want to talk ’bout Peter Tosh. If him want to hear Peter Tosh, mek him go play him own Peter Tosh”.
This is the kind of mindset that is cultivated if Bob Marley continues to be positioned in the public consciousness at the expense of the other principal members of the original Wailers, the group which, in my opinion, is Jamaica’s finest.
For this treatise, I will concern myself with the importance of the Wailers’ primary three, Bob, Bunny and Peter, with only minimal mention of others.
In the early days of our popular music, Jamaica produced many outstanding harmony groups. Most notable among them were duets such as Higgs and Wilson and Alton and Eddie. Groups such as the Down Beats, Jiving Juniors and the Rhythm Aces paved the way for The Paragons, The Heptones, The Gaylads and The Wailers. All were outstanding groups that copied the styles of their favorite American counterparts, even covering their hits. Some as much as adopted the names of foreign groups or applied to it some slight adjustment. Many dressed in fashions similar to the ‘brothers’ up north and even twanged when they addressed audiences. Though outstanding and well received in the role of clone, many lacked originality – the ability to display any real authenticity or inventiveness. Indeed, the local recording industry began in earnest in order to fill the void caused by the unavailability of the type of doo-wop and rhythm and blues songs that were popular in Jamaica but on the wane in America.
The Wailers could have been just another outstanding group to gain popularity by shadowing an American model, in their case, The Impressions, if they had remained so focused. But with the exception of a number of covers, to which a distinctive Wailers ethos was employed – What’s New Pussycat, Sugar, Sugar, and Go Johnny Go, among them, and a variety of successful songs that resembled the late ’50s and ’60s- R&B and soul variety, it was clear to all with insight that this group’s promise was beyond cloning. In terms of identity, The Wailers were remarkably different from any other group before or after. They made successful hits in the American vein and like too many others, may have retarded their originality and stifled their authenticity had it not been for their individual and collective awareness to retain the individuality that comes with being home-grown.
As a group, they had a sense of mission and were conscious that their immense talent, especially that of their visionary lead singer and principal lyricist, Bob Marley, was too remarkable to waste on being copycats. Unlike the polished sound pursued by most Jamaican groups (The Maytals and Justin Hines are exceptions), The Wailers perfected a style that was both raw and elegant. It was built around Pentecostal shouts, chants, and a crying wail; a fusion of melancholy and hopefulness that was ultimately celebratory; a sound that moved beyond the sentimental and engaged the profound. In addition to The Skatalites and Don Drummond, for many of my generation, those of us who came of age during the 1960s, The Wailers simply made the most unbelievable and believable music. It was real, it was palpable and The Wailers were the voice of the people. In simple terms, they represented the rebellion against the false values that existed in a generally inequitable and divided society. They provided those of us at odds with the status quo an identity.
Marley was the group’s most adept songwriter, and rather than a sweet singer, he was more of a storyteller, a Griot, if you will. His voice was the perfect instrument to convey and emphasize the song’s message, and it blended with Livingston’s and Tosh’s to empathize with the ordinary person’s fears and aspirations. Using related themes, The Wailers linked songs thus creating a grand narrative, a sequence of compositions that connected like the chapters of a well-conceived, richly textured and dramatically nuanced work of literary art. And while few artistes, whose work has been imagined as social and political commentary, were as insightful, perceptive, and successful as The Wailers’, Bob’s writing and the group’s performances displayed neither simplistic notions of heritage nor brayed the sort of protest that was the dogma of lesser talent, most of whom have realized the shallowness of their vision as time passes.
Artistes with ambitions as social commentators had available to them situations in Jamaica that provided an extraordinary and complex range of resources. Inherent in the system were signifiers or themes that have always had an impact on great visionaries and leaders for social transformation. Society provided a scope of complex references and ambiguous interactions that revolved around questions of identity, humanity, collective dignity, the responsibility and accountability of the individual, the community and government, the elegant and the obnoxious, flaws and virtues, and the successes and failings of a plantation society system seeking change but in conflict with hegemony, deceptive and often corrupt politicians and law enforcers, pompous Europhiles, ambitious nationalists, and Afro-centric romantics weaved into a tapestry of social interaction weft together by the inevitability of destiny.
Collectively, The Wailers observed and understood these complexities. They wrote and performed songs that definitely were protests in form and meaning. However, sentimentality was unquestionably absent from their interpretation of bygone or present-day life. They effectively sculpted music through which the traditional and the modern were expressed as intricate imagery and meticulous gradations of intent, of colors and tone that are symbolic in character. Indeed, they provided a heightened awareness of responsibility, dignity and humanity that is historic, mythic and caustic.
During the decade of the 1960s to the early ’70s and at their socio-political best, radio stations, and especially middle-class Jamaicans, snubbed The Wailers. How short-sighted they were! The group, which served notice to the world when Chris Blackwell signed them to his Island label and released their first concept album, Catch a Fire in 1972, always sang protest or ‘culture music’ with an impeccably buoyant beat. They would celebrate, could lament, were melancholy, or, whenever it was appropriate, even sang pure pop, imbued at times by an affable innocence.
They were masterful at projection. With their skilful use of studio and stage, flawless diction, charismatic phrasing and keen ear for melody, plus their ability to impart the meaning of the lyrics in a song, The Wailers, like all great performers, were also able to make each fan feel as if they were the group’s personal focus.
Arguably, they had the most positive effect on reggae during its classic period. The Wailers were key in pioneering the internationalisation of the genre, which, since its inception, had assimilated all that had gone before. Studio owners and quasi producers had previously dominated the scene with musicians and singers dependent on their benevolence. By liberating themselves from established local studio identification and establishing their own label, The Wailers delivered the coup de grace that gave singers the independence and significance that were previously exclusive to producers. No longer merely vocalists associated with the stables of the studio owners, The Wailers paved the way for singers to take responsibility for what they record, reducing studio bosses to collaborators, hired producers or consigning them to oblivion. Like the most intense percussive-driven horn music of The Skatalites and its brilliant soloist Don Drummond, the music of The Wailers was/is a music of cathartic experience that somehow spiritually, emotionally and psychologically purified the angst of social degradation.
Marley wrote and achieved hits with Simmer Down, Rude Boy Ska and Jailhouse; while Tosh contributed I’m the Toughest, and Bunny offered I Stand Predominate, a body of work whose sentiments reflected social realities. Marley would further provide the group with substantial hits such as I’m Gonna Put it On, Bus Dem Shut, and Hypocrites in addition to Black Progress and Arise Blackman by Tosh, and Rolling Stone by Livingston that extended the theme.
The Wailers’ music characterized life’s myths and reality as art by its passionate enthusiasm and nuanced suggestiveness; excitement that had impact on their followers, by being staggeringly provocative, and because of its heroic impressiveness, which unfolded like the plots and dramatic text that defines theatrical quality. Their music was inspirational, bold, vibrant, and strikingly remarkable in form and effect. The Wailers were always synthesizing in each composition many different myths, metaphors and realities. They brought out the vulnerability and the agony of the poor with tunes like Hurting Inside, which also communicated the wailing cry of parent and child and also a haunting aura of hopelessness.
On Fussing and Fighting, the group asks, “Why is this fussing and fighting, why is this cheating and lying,” and offers advice: “We should really love each other in peace and harmony instead of fussing and fighting like we aint supposed to be.”
Not only are the lyrics and musical arrangements noteworthy of the overall meaning of these kinds of songs, but also notable were the forces that brought together these three singers with their unique characteristics, including their haunting melancholy, and sweet and sour quality.
Yet with all its hurt, the music was not about defeat. The opposite also abound. Small Axe expresses the defiance of the little people against the big man: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe, ready to cut you down”.
The optimism, the hope and the possibilities conveyed by the music they made were also clearly evident. (Both musically and topically), their music (more so than any of their contemporaries,) was both more expansive and expressive than any of their contemporaries’, but that is inevitable, because The Wailers never patterned themselves on metropolitan references. Trench Town Rock, for example, is both lamenting the plight of West Kingston’s inner city and at the same time expressing the “grooving” good times, the humanity and the sense of defiance the marginalized can summon to balance the challenges of their existence. And in its delivery, not only is there a sense of the combative, but also a light-hearted playfulness that captures the dichotomy of ghetto or sufferer life.
Meanings and emotions
The Wailers’ music also demonstrated that some of the meanings and emotions that can be conveyed by being grounded in idiomatic forms could not be conveyed through sensibilities that are copies of another culture, in spite of sharing similar experiences. For instance, the myth of Mr Brown, a song about the sighting of a coffin running around town with two John Crows, one on either end, begins with a holler, perhaps to invoke the presence of spirits or the memory of an ancestor. It is shouted in a kind of yodel that would be out of place for an aggregation whose references are to Broadway or whose style is influenced by the smooth approach of an American soul group. That approach would lose the vernacular meaning of the song. And too many songs with social and political meaning that have become local hits had messages whose impact was lost on listeners because they lacked empathic intimacy. In the case of The Wailers, the energy, the emotional energy that comes from those expressions, is not lost. It captures and communicates the Jamaican capacity for optimism, resilience and vision. Although best known as artistes whose major works reverberated with socio-political imagery, The Wailers were also masters of the romantic ballad. They rendered chestnuts like the Junior Braithwaite lead It Hurts to be Alone, Smokey Robinson’s I Need You, with Bunny Livingston singing lead, and the perennial classic, I’m Still Waiting, which features Marley’s aching voice, all without betraying a hint of sentimentality or over-romanticizing. Later masterpieces would include the poetic brilliance of Sun is Shining, the herb influenced and metaphor-laden Kaya, while the touching mating call inherent in Guava Jelly and the playfully suggestive Stir it Up remains perhaps their most sensual and sexual pieces of creative verse.
The overall oeuvre of The Wailers’ music presents ideas that were unsentimental and complex – Jamaica is paradise but misery for those without the wherewithal; opportunities abound but not for the poor; rude boys are lawless but their benevolence benefits the community; folk culture is rich in metaphors, historic references and mystique but next to European culture it is viewed as quaint; blacks live in hopelessness but with optimism in abundance. The music of The Wailers, therefore, reflects the textural magnificence of life, simultaneously mirroring both sides of a world that inspired the motto ‘Out of Many One People': the universe of the black, the Jew, the Chinese, Indian, Syrian, the mulatto, the Jamaican, white and the immigrant; the peasant, the farmer, the government and the governed; whether rich or poor, fisherman or preacher man, higgler or merchant, professional or manual laborer, this “out of many one” motley crew shaped this grand narrative that is Jamaican from which the Wailers – Bob, Bunny and Peter- composed a perceptive and insightfully splendid enough epic that makes their best work the kind of classics they have become, and them, the acknowledged masters that they are.
And so, contrary to popular belief as perpetrated by the messages of hired publicists serving the self-interest of his beneficiaries, Marley could not have done it alone. Tosh and Livingston were crucial to Marley’s success. The three were uncannily suited to each other in personality, attitude, talent and philosophy, even in difference.
Herbie Miller is the director/curator of the Jamaica Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica and is a cultural historian with specialized interest in slave culture, Caribbean identity and ethnomusicology. He can be contacted at [email protected] Source Jamaica Gleaner.com
STORY OF THE SONG: Crown Prince puts ‘The Promised Land’ visit into song
It was recorded while the impact of a trip to Ethiopia, where the Shasamane community for repatriated persons is located, was fresh in Brown’s mind. Saxophonist Tony Greene said that it was recorded in England when Brown was on his way back from Ethiopia. The rhythm had been done by crack British outfit Aswad, who recorded the rhythm as ‘Dub Fire’ and also did Love Fire on the track. “Dennis Brown hears the rhythm and like it and they put him on it,” Greene tells The Sunday Gleaner. Brown also sings in The Promised Land: Then I said to myself give thanks for the Prophet Gad/For he gave I the teachings so I could see/the reality of my true being.
Sangie Davis says it came at about the same time he wrote Make Ends Meet for Brown and before he did the Inseparable album with Willie Lindo. It shows the influence of the Twelve Tribes of Israel group clearly and Davis pointed out that Brown often gave the standard Twelve Tribes of Israel greeting during his concerts.
He said Brown’s Ethiopia trip was solely a visit, not for a performance, and while he is not sure if it was the Crown Prince of Reggae’s first time in the country, it was his introduction to Shasamane. Naturally, then, the song had special meaning for him; Davis said “anybody who know Dennis know is a passion, The Promised Land.” The Promised Land features a moving horn section and Greene said it was played originally by Michael ‘Bami’ Rose (saxophone), Vin Gordon (trombone) and Edward ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton. “The arrangement, especially the horns arrangement, is very unique. You have to sit down and work it out,” Greene said. And he said The Promised Land was generally played in the ‘sacred’ part of Brown’s live shows, along with Ababajani. Source Jamaica Gleaner.com
Celebrating 50 years of Jamaican popular music – Part 1
Edward Seaga, Gleaner Writer
The year 2010 can be deemed to be the 50th anniversary of Jamaican popular music. While a couple of recordings were composed before that date, notably by Laurel Aitken, there was little commercial thrust of any magnitude. It was in 1960 that Jamaican popular music became sufficiently energized to emerge as a promising cultural medium.
By 1960, Laurel Aitken, Theophilus Beckford and Jackie Edwards had already produced songs composed and performed previously but not recorded as hits until 1960:
– Theophilus Beckford
– Theophilus Beckford
Boogie in my bones
– Laurel Aitken
Tell me Darling
– Jackie Edwards
Oh Manny Oh! By Higgs and Wilson soon followed. It was the first hit produced on vinyl and this transformed record production from soft acetate-based records, which had limited life, to vinyl which was a durable material suitable for an industry. Manny Oh was my first record produced in my early years of promoting Jamaican music.
Yet none of these tunes could be said to have had an identifiable Jamaican signature. It was the emergence of the ska that produced the first Jamaican popular rhythm for music. The origin of ska is not clear but it is linked mostly to Clement Dodd’s Sir Coxsone studio, where Clement Johnson (Clue J) and Ernie Ranglin were searching for a rhythm.
Early recordings struck truly indigenous note as Eric Monty Morris led off with the folk tune Sammy Dead followed soon by the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty both set to the “riddim” of the ska beat. But it was baby-voiced Millie Small singing a cover of My Boy Lollipop in 1963 (original by Barbie Gaye) to the ska beat that gave Jamaican music its first big lift although it was not an original Jamaican tune. It was produced in London by Chris Blackwell and was a huge hit on the charts locally and overseas, selling seven million copies.
The ska was well received in London where it became known as the blue beat. The popularity in London linked back to Jamaica where, as a result of the acceptance in London, ska became accepted uptown in Jamaica. Previously, it was considered downtown music and was ignored in favor of foreign tunes.
The great instrumental band, The Skatalites, gave ska another big boost with their resounding hits of which Occupation was the most memorable. The band featured the great saxophonist Roland Alphanso.
By 1967, however, the Jamaican penchant for creativeness turned to a new rhythm, rocksteady. Hopeton Lewis was recording a song aptly called Take it easy and had to slow down the rhythm because he could not keep up with it. This slower rhythm became known as rocksteady.
Many new hit songs were produced in this period most notably Desmond Dekker’s triumphant hit Israelites which went to the top of the UK charts and nearly the top in America. Although Dekker was lamenting the hard life of the Jamaican peasantry (“get up in the morning slaving for breads),” equating it with the rough passage of Israelites in biblical lore, Jewish people in the United States associated the lyrics with their own lament, pushing the sales.
Dekker was also prominent in the rude-boy era of 1966/67 when gun violence erupted after a massive raid by the police on the criminal den Back-o-Wall. His 007/ Shanty Town (“dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail a Shanty Town“) was a signature tune.
It was in this period that Derrick Morgan, Toots and Maytals and Jimmy Cliff flourished. Derrick Morgan’s clash with Prince Buster shows the versatility of the two artistes. Buster was offended that Morgan switched from Buster’s recording studio to Leslie Kong, another prominent studio. He chastised Morgan for the switch in a very sharp attack Black Head Chineman, only to find himself on the defense with an equally caustic response by Morgan, Blazing Fire. The tradition of clashes commenced here and mushroomed over later years where, in the dancehall period, it sometimes got out of control.
Toots Hibbert, lead singer of the Maytals, spent a short time in prison for possession of a small amount of ganja. He was given the number 5446 while incarcerated. On his release, he spared no time in producing one of the most popular hit tunes of Jamaican music, 54-46 That’s My Number.
But it was Jimmy Cliff, a perennial favorite through the years, who defined the late 1960s, to early 1970s. First, he performed the beautiful melody “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” a timeless, number-one hit internationally. In this same period, he not only produced one of the classic tunes of Jamaican music, The Harder They Come, but acted the lead role in Perry Henzell’s equally classic film by the same title. This lifted Jimmy Cliff’s status in the global perspective of Jamaican music to stardom.
At the juncture of the first and second decades after independence, a short but potent period of far-reaching change occurred, introducing dub and deejay. Dubbing was the result of an experiment by King Tubby, the master cutter for Duke Reid. Together with Coxsone, Duke Reid was the top producer of recordings in the early period of the emergence of Jamaican music. Tubby found that leaving out the vocals in certain sections of play allowing the beat and instruments to dominate created an ecstatic reaction by patrons when the vocals returned. With this discovery, dubbing was born.
Even greater creativity
But with even greater creativity, the vocal blanks on the dubs were creatively used for “toasting” the patrons with limericks, nursery rhyme phrasings, greetings, bravado and other lively chatter. The patrons loved it, and the deejay, as the operator was called, became an entry to the music scene. The first deejay hit was by King Stitt who recorded Fire Corner. Out of this emerged U-Roy (Ewart Beckford) who handled the sound for King Stitt. He achieved success with quick hits that ranked one, two and three on the chart at the same time, an unprecedented feat. These were:
Wear you to the Ball
Wake the Town
Rule the Nation
A most far-reaching development emerged from the experimentation with the recording process and playing of records at dances. A Jamaican living in New York, known as Cool Herc who operated a sound system there, discovered the deejay. He returned to New York where he introduced his find. It was an immediate hit and soon became an established part of dances. Later, this morphed into a related genre, rap, which has become dominant in the United States. From a seed planted in Jamaica, a mighty tree has grown.
Back in Jamaica, Bob Marley was becoming an international star. The reggae rhythm was now in vogue. Everything else faded, musical interests shifted. Reggae took the ascendancy worldwide.
The decade of the 1970s had other attractions: the prolific use of political songs befitting the political climate of the time. Better Must Come by Delroy Wilson, although written by the composer about his own condition, was quickly adopted by the Michael Manley campaign both as a slogan and a song for the 1972 general-election campaign to depict the general disposition of the people.
Dub and deejay music, although striking resonant chords with Jamaicans soon faded. Dennis Brown, a child prodigy from west Kingston, was growing up to become a dominant rising star in the early 1970s. He was a prolific composer and a performer who could fill the house and stop the show (No Man is an Island; West Bound Train; Revolution).
But reggae was yet to reach its peak. It was Bob Marley, now performing without the Wailers, who became the international star, successfully promoting reggae across the world. Bob became a global figure. He and other reggae stars sang and performed reggae on recordings in homes and live on stages worldwide, transforming it from ethnic to mainstream music. This was a phenomenal development for independent Jamaica. Edward Seaga is a former prime minister. He is now the pro-chancellor of UTech and a distinguished fellow at the UWI. Email: [email protected] Source Jamaica Gleaner.com