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Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King [Paperback]

Lloyd Bradley
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.99
Price: 10.87 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Aug 2001
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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Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King + Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital + Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae
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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (30 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140237631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140237634
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Reggae History 31 Mar 2003
This gives the right balance of social history, music history and information without overloading me with facts I can't digest. As a result I've gone off to discover new music by new artists (or rather old and dead ones, but you know what I mean). I'm not a great reader of music books, for reasons similar to those given by other reviewers of this book, but this is an exception. Well written and consistantly interesting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 15 days 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 3 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 6 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 7 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 8 months ago 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, interesting and will help dispell the stereotypes of...
As a dj playing original roots and dub, Bass Culture was a godsend. This book is highly informative and contains enough captivating and meaningful anecdotes to hold your... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2007 by Roots Rally Sound System
Bigger isn't always better. Bass Culture may be thick but it covers musch less ground than Reggae Routes : The Story of Jamaican Music and is not nearly as well written. Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, compelling and essential
Utilises a mixture of social and cultural analysis aligned to verbatim quotes from many of the key players - this is a compelling read which has inspired me to dust off many an old... Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2002 by nigeyb
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