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Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King [Kindle Edition]

Lloyd Bradley
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The first major account of the history of reggae, black music journalist Lloyd Bradley describes its origins and development in Jamaica, from ska to rock-steady to dub and then to reggae itself, a local music which conquered the world. There are many extraordinary stories about characters like Prince Buster, King Tubby and Bob Marley. But this is more than a book of music history: it relates the story of reggae to the whole history of Jamaica, from colonial island to troubled independence, and Jamaicans, from Kingston to London.

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About the Author

Lloyd Bradley was classically trained as a chef but for the last 20 years has worked as a music journalist, most recently for Mojo - which he has just left with editor Mat Snow to launch a new men's magazine in Autumn 2000. He is the author of Reggae on CD. He lives with his wife and two children in Kentish Town, London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book is such a great read, I am so pleased that somebody had the ability and dedication to put together such a comprehensive book about reggae. Starting from the birth of sound system culture in the 1950's when they were playing strictly American R'n'B, this book covers the essential bits for ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall etc; also looking at the socio-political on-goings that perhaps caused the music to develop in a certain way. It also takes a good look into the reggae music scene in other parts of the world, mainly England, but also to a lesser extent the USA and parts of Africa (Nigeria loves the roots!).

I have not quite finished this book yet, but it has been one of the quickest I have ever read, as I just can't wait to fill my head with more fascinating info on King Tubby's studio, or Dennis Bovell and the UK scene, or some other crazy stuff about rastafari. The only issue I have with this book, is I sometimes found the socio-political stuff a little boring, but I think others would not, and I guess its essential to explain the situation in which a lot of reggae was created. I also wish there was more info on a lot of the roots artists. But still these are minor issues.... Lloyd Bradley has covered an immense amount of ground, and managed to fit it comfortably into 550 or so pages.

As most of the other reviews state, this is such a great book, and for any fans of any form of reggae, you will learn so much. You also get a great insight into how the reggae music industry worked... and that alone is so interesting as its nothing like the rock/pop side of things. BUY THIS! YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cultured read 9 Nov. 2011
I really enjoyed this book.

Firstly, it is a very comprehensive, well researched book covering the period up to 1980 in great detail.

Secondly, it is related in a very good humoured, likeable way. Bradley is a great guide to all this - funny, enthusiastic and perceptive. Never pompous or dogmatic, unlike some other authors covering this period. This is by far the easiest and the best-written narrative of this type, and I've read a few in my time.

The book ends, as lots of other reviewers have mentioned, in about 1980. Subsequent years are covered in passing, but not in detail. For me, this isn't a massive problem - my interest peaked in the 70s and I'm happy to leave the story there. This might be a problem for younger readers though (god, HOW patronising do I sound??).

Plenty of great stories in these pages. I particualy loved the connection made between the music that came out of Jamaica with the political and other events during this period - one drove and inspired the other. Also enjoyed the sense of optimism and fun as independance dawned (but which soon faded however).

If you want a book covering this period, please get this one. There are a lot of po-faced serious tomes out there which might be more 'comprehensive' or 'definitive' but this is the one, the only one, you really need.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Lloyd Bradley is to be congratulated for this most readable and informative book. This is a serious and carefully crafted book that obviously reflects the author's love of post 60s Jamaican music.
Each genre within the broad church that is 'reggae' is treated in an in-depth manner and is brought to life by interviews with the surviving artists. You can almost smell the herb.
Thankfully, the author manages to avoid a tribute to the might of Bob Marley, but steers his way deftly through the many artists that were actually appreciated by admirers of the style - whether they be in damp London clubs or Kingston lawns. As a result, the book provides a remarkable portrait and accurate social documentary of what, how and who created the form that is sweet reggae music.
Interspersed with vivid vignettes of street life of the time, the picture is one of struggle and sufferation as a nation evolves its own musical identity. The emphasis is on the period up to 1980, with detailed descriptions of the emerging sound systems, deejay culture and the influence of rastafarianism. The coverage of this era is fascinating.
The period of 1980-2000 is covered in relatively few pages, perhaps reflecting the author's dislike of the violent and slack world of ragga, gun culture and cocaine that this period evoked. If the book has a failing it would be the scant coverage of stars such as Shabba Ranks, Buju Banton and Terror Fabulous, to name a few. Although the violent overtones of this time may be open to derision, some of the music itself has an important place in modern day Jamaican youth culture - perhaps as much as roots did for the generation before.
For anyone interested in reggae music, its evolution and history Bass Culture is a must have immediate purchase. Congratulations to Lloyd Bradley.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Lloyd Bradley has done an excellent job with this book of not just documenting the origins and developement of what came to be reggae music but also capturing the social and political backdrop in which it emerged. The text is comprehensive yet hugely readable and I would say is a must read for any reggae enthusiast. He seems very familiar with both Jamaica and it's people and exlains the various changes it has undergone in a fair and balanced way. He is to be commended for his unbiased and understanding approach to Rastafari and also his commentry on the islands politics where it is relevent.
The one criticism I would have, and I'm afraid to say it's a major one, is his focus on ska/roots reggae almost entirely to the near total exclusion of dancehall. The entire dancehall era must only comprise of 1/10 of the books text. He does not delve into the developement of the deejay style in the 80's, the move to digital rhythyms, nor the key players in this who made it happen. Instead he seems to unfairly focus on the slackness and gun-talk elements of certain dancehall records and how these were a backward step for the music. This may indeed be true but it is folly to write a book claiming to detail the entire history of Jamaican music yet ignore some of it's most important musical developements, merely because they happened to provide a platform for some unsavoury lyrics. In what he does say about dancehall it is mostly on the roots revival style and how it's a step in the right direction. You won't find me disagreeing but at the same time deejays like Sizzla or Capelton would not exist today if it wasn't for the pioneers of the 80's and early 90's.
All in all I have to say though it's a great book, very entertaining, very informative and hugely enjoyable. I would highly reccomend this book to anyone, I only wish it could have been as in-depth in dealing with the reggae music of the last two decades as it was with the previous two.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Bass Culture
I'm going against the grain here, but I found myself quite disappointed with Bass Culture.

Sure it's biblical in size and features numerous first-hand accounts of the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by XBBX
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone remotely interested in the history of reggae music or...
I bought this book when it came out in 2001 and I was just starting to listen to reggae. 14 years later with a huge record collection and experience running reggae and dub nights... Read more
Published 6 months ago by scottfromsotland
3.0 out of 5 stars Bought for a friend
I have not the faintest clue whether this is good or bad. It was purchased for a friend, at his request.
Published 7 months ago by Blackdog
4.0 out of 5 stars A different take
An excellent book. Well written and a pleasant read. For me this book is especially interesting as it is written from an english-caribbean point of view, rather than the Jamaican... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Adriana van den Bogart
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Adds context and meaning to the music I already love, whilst opening up so much more. Well worth the read.
Published 19 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what my son wanted
I have not personally read this but my son loves it. He is into music and the history of it>
Published 22 months ago by Mrs. R. A. Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining account of kicking music
This book captures the essence of the sound system culture which spawned some of the greatest music of the last 50 years. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Pol O Gallachoir
4.0 out of 5 stars Bass Culture When Reggae Was King
Having run a sound system on and off for the last 40 years I grabbed this book thinking it was going to be a history of the sound system as I knew it in the 70's, but was sadly... Read more
Published on 28 July 2013 by P. D. Mcgill
5.0 out of 5 stars Book. Bass Culture.
The book arrived on the day it was supposed to and in the condition as advertised. I can't fault the service. 10/10.
Published on 28 July 2011 by P. M. Onslow
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Great book, finished it in 2 weeks!!!
Lots of info about the development of reggae in Jamaica and the UK. Read more
Published on 9 Jun. 2011 by readallaboutit
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