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Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Given the fascination i have for the subject, this should have been a winner. Yet i failed to finish it. I found his style of writing very poor and couldn't engage with it at all. Read morePublished 4 months ago by ririd69
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
I have not the faintest clue whether this is good or bad. It was purchased for a friend, at his request.Published 19 months ago by Blackdog
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 morePublished on 8 April 2014 by Adriana van den Bogart
Adds context and meaning to the music I already love, whilst opening up so much more. Well worth the read.Published on 10 Jan. 2014 by Peter
I have not personally read this but my son loves it. He is into music and the history of it>Published on 4 Oct. 2013 by Mrs. R. A. Rose
This book captures the essence of the sound system culture which spawned some of the greatest music of the last 50 years. Read morePublished on 30 Aug. 2013 by Pol O Gallachoir
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 morePublished on 28 July 2013 by P. D. Mcgill
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