<32 years of Reggae Radio; 2 min. 22 sec.>
As the Rastas would say when I ‘n’ I was a youth learning Reggae music circa Fall ’86:
- Ronald (6)
- Wilson (6)
- Reagan (6)
Maybe so, but I owe it all to the man…..I’ll explain below
Always been a huge music fan and collector since growing up in Fort Benton Montana (mid 70’s-mid 80’s). When I came to the University of Utah in Fall of ’86, I brought with me a couple crates of indispensable vinyl and a couple boxes of these shiny aluminum coated novelties called the Compact Disk.
Back in 1986, when the compact disk market was so new, there wasn’t a lot of contemporary titles available yet. You had to seek them out. In the dorms,I met a Jewish kid from Baltimore, MD named Neil Cooperman. Physics Major. (Me? Middle East Studies).
He and I were loaning out our rare finds like trading baseball cards. Think of the mid 80’s. Too much MTV synthesizer. All the rock acts from the 70’s: Rolling Stones, Dylan, The Who, etc. were issuing pretty crappy records. Even my favorite punkers like The Ramones and The Clash had fallen on hard times.
Like most college kids, I was into college rock: My Big Three: The Replacements, Husker Du, The Minutemen. When D. Boon of the Minutemen died in a car crash, that was the musical low point in my musical consumption for traditional rock.
I ‘n’ I was finally living in a city with a plethora of record stores. (90% gone now in Salt Lake City). With all that choice in an emerging CD market, where was I gonna go musically as I built my collection?
Bought some Blues (Robert Cray, Stevie Ray, Muddy Waters Hard Again). Bought some World (King Sunny Ade, Rai Arabic pop, South African jive). Bought some Reggae (Jimmy Cliff, Toots, Steel Pulse)*. Nice
*In 1986, there was almost no Marley or Tosh on CD
And then the epiphany moment. Neil played for me a disk by a group named Black Uhuru. (Uhuru – Swahili for freedom).
<Black Uhuru – Anthem. The disk that lit the fuse; 87 sec.>
Yeah, the cover is pure 80’s but Michael Rose in full dreads flashing the hairy eyeball, Puma Jones looking fetching in her 80’s fashion clash.
And the Riddim Twins in the back, Sly & Robbie controlling the scene.
1983 sound of them working with Bob Dylan and Grace Jones. They were the drum and bass standouts in an synthesized sound that was 80’s rock. (Mostly bad, but Sly Dunbar (drums) & Robbie Shakespeare (bassie) were the best of the bombast.
The dorms at the U of U were concrete bunkers. You probably had bigger closets in your home. Within 30 seconds of the lead off track, What Is Life?, that synth bass and vocoder vox ricocheted and throbbed throughout the room. I ‘n’ I didn’t burn the hippie lettuce then, (Eff you Ronnie Raygun!), but that CD lit the fuse.
That was what I came to Utah to find. A new sound. Reggae music.
Enter Ronald Reagan. I’n’ I said I lived at my Grandmother’s house to qualify for student loans and grants. My first two years of U of U (even with out of state tuition the first year) was paid for in Pell Grants and loans. The grants paid for room, board and tuition. The loans went for my Reggae collection.
Used vinyl was cheap. People were selling vinyl to buy CDs which were rare and ridiculously expensive. I hoovered up both formats.
My last year at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, I discovered their college radio station, KGLT. Very similar to KRCL. Free form format, mix of college rock and community shows like bluegrass, folk, Sunday gospel. Loved it much more than the noise of commercial radio.
I ‘n’ I assumed that the Univ. of Utah radio station, KUER, would be the same. WTF is NPR? Why is a college station playing classical music?
One of the student leaders recognized this and tried to re-boot a failed college managed “radio” station that would be broadcast from the Student Union to patrons in the cafe and study tables.
It was (and is) called K-UTE. I jumped at the chance to spin disks. I did a volunteer Reggae show called Positive Vibrations (after the Bob tune.) Spring of 1987. Pure amateur setup, but fun none the less.
A year later my friend and I were in the Pie Pizzeria and heard them call out for volunteers on the community radio station, KRCL. It was not college managed. I had been listening to them, when someone told me about Smile Jamaica.
They were looking for a late night show featuring a mix of Reggae with World and Ska. I ‘n’ I submitted a proposal and was trained Spring of 1988. First show as the last Sunday Night/Monday Morning in June. 3-6 AM.
I ‘n’ I called it 3 o’clock Roadblock – from Marley’s Rebel Music. Now I had an outlet for my Reggae collection. Even if the only listeners were cab drivers, 7-11 workers and insomniacs.
<Before Smile Jamaica; 2 min. 6 sec.>
Learned the ropes. Made all my mistakes, Tried to find an on-air announcing sound that wasn’t horribly monotonous and filled with ands and ums. Great year of apprenticeship before I ‘n’ I moved over to Smile Jamaica, October 1989.
That’s a story for another day.
From June 25, 1988 to June 27, 2020: by my Liberal Arts math that is 32 years. We celebrate that with the first vinyl additions to the Ark-Ives on this SJ podcast.
Thanks for listening for 1 week or nearly 1/3 of a century!
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: June 27, 2020 = 32 Years of Reggae Radio
Jimmy Riley – Summertime; 12″ (DEB) ’76 UK Porgy & Bess cover- 32 years of Reggae Radio (Vinyl Show)
Sly & Robbie – Uhuru in Dub (CSA) ’82 Dub Album of the Hour
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Rebel Music (3 o’clock Roadblock); Natty Dread (Island) ’74 UK
<Cratedig re-collection: Bob Marley Vinyl Box Set>
Sister Candy – Laserbeam; Laserbeam (Enterprise) ’83 Brooklyn
Jah Lloyd – Dispencer; Black Moses (Virgin Front Line) ’79 UK 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
Don Carlos – Mr. Sun; 12″ (Jah Guidance) ’82 JA***End of Set 1
Black Unuru – Antjem; Anthem (Island) ‘84 US Rmx
Bob Andy – Check It Out: Retrospective (I-Anna) ‘86 UK
Barbara Paige – Babylon Must Fall; Hear Me Now (Epiphany) ‘82 US
Prince Alla – Sun Is Shining; 12” ( Freedom Sounds ) ‘78 JA***End of Set 2
Culture – Lion Rock; Peel Sessions EP (Strange Fruit) Dec. 11, ‘82 UK John Peel Sessioms
The Selecter – Celebrate the Bullet; Celebrate the Bullet (Chrysalis) ’82 UK 2 Tone Ska w/ Pauline Black vox
Dread Beat and Blood – Rainbow Warrior; Tribute to a Friend (Jayrem) ‘85 NZ Maori group
Eddy a Grant – Walking on Sunshime ; 12” (Ice) ‘79 UK
Mystic Youth feat. I Skeeda and Irie Ites – Save the Roaches: Best Wishes (Sunspot) ’82 SF: school group herbtune w/ female vo
Eek a Mousse – Hitler; Mouse and the Man (Greensleeves) ‘82 UK
Jimmy Becker & the Chariot Riders – Sunshine Kerry; 12″ JA (Crystal)***End of Set 4
Winston Fergus – Hail Rastaman; I Shall Sing (John Dread) ‘85 UK
Sophia George – Girlie, Girlie; Fresh (Winner) ‘85 UK
Gladiators – Small Axe, Symbol of Reality (Nighthawk) ‘82 St. Louis Wailers cover
Michael Administators – Summer Breeze; 12” (Cha Cha) UK Seals and a Croft cover blue vinyl***End of Set 5
Peter Tosh – Comin’ in Hot; Captured Live (EMI America) ‘82 LA
Joe Higgs – Tere’s a Reward; Life of Contradiction (Grounation) ’75 JA
Jean Binta Breeze – Dubwise + Confusion (Warner); Tracks (LKJ) ‘90 UK female dub poet
Pat Kelly – Sunshine; 12” (KG Imperial) ’80 JA John Denver cover***End of Set 6
Bunny Wailer – Ballroom Floor; Rock ‘N Groove (Solomonic) ‘81
Gregory Isaacs – Happiness Come; In Person (Trojan) ‘74 UK
Bam Bam – Star Wars; Power of a Woman (Bam Bam Internatioanal ‘87 LA female***End of Set 7
Aura Lewis Meets Lee “Scratch” Perry – Young Gifted and Broke; Full Experience (Blue Moon) ’76 Aretha Franklin update; female vox
Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus – Mr. Brown; Rastafari (Top Ranking) ’75 JA
Ethiopian People; Rastafari (Trojan) ’82 UK
A.S. Brown – Sun Shines For are; 12” (Level Vibes) ’84 UK