Pity the Compact Disk. Gone the way of the 8-Track cartridge and cassette tape. Relegated to the dustbin of dead media formats: VHS tapes and soon come, DVDs.
Digital on your phone. Fetishization of vinyl, the hipster medium. (I ‘n’ I never lost faith in vinyl, even when people told me that CDs were what’s happening.)
The shiny aluminum coaster thingees suffered the ignominious fate of being outsold by the black wax in 2019:
Vinyl Is Poised to Outsell CDs For the First Time Since 1986
<The CD is a relic; 17 sec.>
Bobbylon’s cratedigging autobiography:
- CD player for Christmas 1985: Fisher brand. Only showed track number. Low frills deck from Montgomery Ward. Bozeman Montana record shops. Summer vacation to Edmonton, CA Summer ’86
- Moved to Salt Lake City, Utah Fall 1986 – Started adding CDs: Reggae, Blues, World, College Rock: from about a dozen great SLC record shops. (All but one out of business in 2020.)
- Reggae fanatic; Oct. 1986-. I ‘n’ I had a pretty decent CD collection considering I had just moved from the rural Montana mountains. Dorms, Univ. of Utah. Met a Jewish upperclassman from Baltimore named Neil Cooperman. His CD collection was incredible. This was at a time when major stars like Beatles, Stones, Marley had very little available on CD.
Neil and I would trade out disks like baseball cards. The U of U dorms were concrete bunkers. Neil had a top rank stereo, as did I. One day we were listening in his room. He chose the disk that changed my life.
Black Uhuru – Anthem; 1 min. 20 sec.
By then I ‘n’I had a nice little Reggae CD stash: Legalize It, No Nuclear War, Marley’s Uprising. Cliff, Toots, UB40 imports. Some grey market roots collections from Germany and Japan.
Neil started up Anthem on his NakamIchi with the Bose 301’s. When Anthem was recorded, 1983, Sly & Robbie were at the synth best. Worked with stalwarts like Bob Dylan, Grace Jones, Joan Armatrading. They added electronic drum and base to Reggae riddims.
80’s were all about synth drums. Everyone from the Stones to Springsteen were overdosing on amplified drum sound. When the lead off selection, What Is Life, built to the vox I ‘n’ I was staggered. This is what I have been looking for!
Music you felt, through the bass throb, as well as heard.
Michael Rose had an Afro-Arab vocal style that was aggressive, female harmonies from Puma Jones added to the militance. Sly & Robbie brought Jamaica to NY discos.
Ka-boom! All my other genres receded to the background and I focused on building 80/20 into Reggae.
I ‘n’ I had the desire to binge as more Reggae cds hit the market, but disks were expensive. As much as $18.99 in ‘1987 dollars. (Probably 35 bucks today).
Meet the funder of the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: Ronald Wilson Reagan
- Ronald (6)
- Wilson (6)
- Reagan (6)….as the Rastas would say. (35 sec.)
Back in the mid 80’s Pell Grants and Student Loans. Loans you had to pay back, grants were free and clear. I ‘n’ I would bank one of those checks and every summer from about 1987-1993. A couple New Year’s Eves. Time to feed the Reggae habit.
<Cratedigging with student loan cash>; 1 min. 27 sec.
I’m sure Pres. Reagan would give the screwface to my misuse of funds but in the end, I paid him back. I ‘n’ I like to joke: It took me 15 years to pay off my Reggae collection.
When I ‘n’ I had an aunt in SF and then Hayward, across the bay I would couch surf for two weeks:
Heading west on I-80: Sacramento, Reno,
San Fran, San Mateo, Mill Valley (across the Golden Gate), Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Hayward (East Bay).
When I didn’t have a relative to freeload, I would stay at the Travelodge: Columbus and Bay, near the Wharf. Literally across the street from Tower Records.
I ‘n’ I would scour the city or the hinterlands during the day, grab some dinner and then spend the evenings til closing in Tower Records (deceased 2006)
The justification of any addict: How do I rationalize my consumption? In 1988 I ‘n’ I went from Reggae fan to the airwaves. With a radio show, I ‘n’ I can’t play the same thing twice. (Like a fashionista who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same outfit twice.)
Needed the Reggae Roadtrips for the masses on the radio. When I ‘n’ I started 3 0’Clock Roadblock – It was 3-6 AM Sunday Nights/Mondays.
Probably spent more dollars than ever had listeners: cab drivers, 7-11 workers and insomniacs.
But when I ‘n’ I hit “prime time” – Saturday afternoons: Smile Jamaica. Rationalization became justification.
Was it worth it? 32 years of Reggae CDs. 32 Years of Reggae Vinyl.
Smile Jamaica Annotated Playlist: August 1, 2020 – 32 Years of Reggae Radio (CDs) 1 min. 27 sec.
- Black Uhuru – Solidarity; Anthem (Island) ’84 rmx of Little Steven
- Blackbeard – Jazzz; I Wah Dub (More Cut) ’80 UK vinyl dub album of the hour
- Keith Hudson – I Shall Be Released; Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood (Atra) ’74 Bob Dylan cover
- Aswad – Ire Woman; Aswad (Mango) ’76
- Third World – Dreamland; 96 Degrees in the Shade (Mango) ’76 Bunny Wailer/Wailers cover
- Rita Marley – One Draw; Who Feels It Knows It (Shanachie) ’80 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
- Gregory Isaacs – Motherless Children; Sly & Robbie Present (RAS) ’80
- Dr. Alimantado – I am the Greatest Says Muhammad Ali; Best Dressed Chicken in Town (Greensleeves) ’73 instrumental
- Althea & Donna – If You Don’t Love Jah; Uptown Top Ranking (Virgin Front Line) ’78 female dj duo
- Ijahman Levi – Zion Train; Haile I Hymn (Mango) ’78
- Michael Prophet – Love & Unity 12″ mix; Serious Reasoning (Mango) ’80
- Inner Circle – We a Rockers; Rockers (Mango) ’79 soundtrack
- Horace Andy – Tonight (Dub); Bim Sherman Meets U Black & Horace Andy in a Rub-a-Dub Style (Original) ’79
- Cassandra – Thank You; Babylon Soundtrack (EMI) ’80 UK female lovers rock
- UB40 – Burden of Shame 12″; Sounding Off (Sound) ’80 comp.
- King Tubby – The Dub Master Dub vinyl of the hour
- Johnny Osbourne – Jah Promise; Truths & Rights (Heartbeat/Studio One) ’80
- Sisters Jam – People of the World; Rockers International (Greensleeves) ’81 A. Pablo prod’n
- Lee “Scratch” Perry – Dreadlock; Black Ark in Dub (Esoldun) ’77 Lee “Scratch” Perry/Black Ark prod’n
- Mikey Dread – Jah Jah Love in the Morning; World War III (Dread at the Controls) ’81
- Dhaima – Ina Jah Children; Uptown Top Ranking (Perfect Object) ’77
- Pablo Moses – Dubbing Is a Must; A Song (Mango) ’80
- Toots & the Maytals – Beautiful Woman; Knock Out! (Mango) ’81
- Prince Fari I – Survival; Umhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) (Tamoki Wambesi) ’83
Set 6: Lee “Scratch” Perry/Black Ark Set
<Reggae History Lesson: Black Ark Studio; 90 sec.>
- The Congos – Children Crying; Heart of the Congos (Blood & Fire) ’77 –
- Native – Rockstone ’77
- Max Romeo – Uptown Babies Don’t Cry; War in a Babylon (Mango) ’76
- Jolly Brothers – Conscious Man; Conscious Man (Seven Leaf) ’77
- Elektro Robotik Dub Orkestra – Kentucky Was a Chicken (Ariwa) ’84 UK vinyl dub album of the hour
Set 7: Wailers Family Tree Set
- Bunny Wailer – Dreamland; Blackheart Man (Mango) ’76
- Peter Tosh – Legalize It; Legalize It (Columbia) ’76
- Judy Mowatt – Screwface; Love is Overdue (Shanachie) ’87 Bob Marley cover
<Screwaface – the look you get if you don’t wear your mask at the grocery store; 13 sec.>
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Comin’ in From the Cold 12″; Uprising (Tuff Gong) ’80
Set 8: Mutant Dub
- Jah Woosh – Woodpecker Sound; ON U Sound Celebration (Trance) ’88
- Alpha & Omega – Ancient African Dub 12″ Mix; Sound System Dub (ROIR) ’95
- London Underground – Watch Your Step; Compilation 80-84 (ON U Sound) ’89
- Tena Stelin – Political Confusion; Wicked Intention (Mr. Modo) ’89
- Singers & Players – Resolution Pt. 2 and v. 2; Revenge of the Underdog (ON U Sound) ’82