The Parliament of the World Religions was in Salt Lake City. My bredrin Mahan Khalsa, a local Sikh leader and anti-war activist called me as I went on air and asked I wold like to chat with Reggae singer and toaster Pato Banton who was in town with his musical ministry. I said bring him over.
Had a real nice chat with him in the first hour of the show. Here are the interviews:
Is Reggae music gospel music? Yes and no. What attracted me to Reggae back in the mid 80s was certainly the Rastafari themed music from stalwarts (pronounced stal-a-watt in Jamaica) like Marley, Tosh and Spear.
Of course there is plenty of non-religious Reggae: love songs, pop and soul covers.
I doubt Reggae would have had such cultural saturation in the West on the backs of novelty hits like “Fattie Boom Boom” and “Israelites” or AM covers with a shuffle beat. Something about Reggae’s heavenly message attracted interested Westerners looking for something exotic and non-mainstream.
In the 70s lots of people in the West opted out of Christianity, (especially Catholicism and Judaism), and went for something new. Some went to cults. Others went for Reggae: Movement of Jah People while also protesting against the “system.” Or the corrupt and greedy “shit-stem” as Peter Tosh called it. Socialism with a small “s”.
You don’t have to be a Rasta to sing or enjoy Reggae. But the conventional wisdom is that Reggae is identified as a counter cultural exploration of worship of His Imperial Majesty as a Black Jesus. West Africans ripped from the continent, put down in Jamaica in bondage and expected to worship their master’s white god.
Rebelling against that physical and mental slavery, while still preserving Christian traditions, led to Rastafari in Jamaica: Look to a black king crowned in East Africa. The return of Jesus who will lead blacks out of “Babylon” (The West, Jamaica, UK, America, etc.) to “Zion” (Africa or better still Ethiopia.)
I’m not a Rasta. My roots are in Northern Europe and Iran. I consider myself a Rastafari empathizer. Someone who understands and appreciates the religion as a devoted observer. Not a devotee.
I grew up a twice a year Methodist: Christmas Eve and Easter. The only time the Nelson family really went to weekly Sunday service was the two years my Dad was on the City Council in Fort Benton Montana.
Not that I haven’t been trying to be a “missionary” for the secular consumption of Reggae music. I celebrate Jah for the inspiration in thousands of Reggae tunes that fill my soul with joy. But I am careful not to endorse HIM out of respect for true believers. I don’t want to be a part of what Jacob Miller complained about: Too much commercialization of Rastafari!
The reason I bring this up: I had an interview with Jamaican Reggae singer Etana. So I do what I normally do before a phone interview: go on Wikipedia and read up on the artist’s entry.
Her album I Rise starts off with a gospel cover of a brilliant Bob Marley cover tune: Selassie is the Chapel. Itself an update of an old American gospel tune. Covered by Elvis.
Etana’s entry mentioned her recording genres thusly: Reggae, Gospel.
While introducing her to the radio listeners, I casually mentioned Etana was a Reggae and Gospel artist coming to town. She interrupted me and corrected me. She was most certainly NOT a Gospel singer. Her music was not geared to religiosity.
No worries. I did political interviews for 9 years. You don’t have to agree with me to have a conversation.
But when you lead off your album with a Rasta cover of a full on gospel song you can see where I might have been mistaken!; 21 sec.
By the way, I am not religious either. What earthlings worshipped as Skygods were Ancient Aliens colonizing Earth to mine gold to take back to their homeworld, Nibiru, beyond our galaxy.
Set your I watch alarm to 2900AD. That’s when the Anunnaki return to Earth.
In fact Etana the Reggae Singer, meet Etana the Sumerian King
Etana was an ancient Sumerian king of the city of Kish. According to the Sumerian King List, he reigned after the deluge. The list also calls Etana “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries”, and states that he ruled 1560 years.
Ascended to Heaven in a Chariot of the Gods (Erich Von Daniken)
Here is what I have for you during the next 3 hours of Roots Reggae, Dubwize and Gospel; 18 sec.
Annotated Playlist (photos, captions, Reggae History Lessons, soundbytes)
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: May 30, 3015:
Wayne Jarrett – Saturday Night Jamboree; 12” (Dub Irator) ‘80
Bullwackies All Stars – Recording Connection; Black World (Wackies) ’79 Dub Album of the Week
The Tamlins – Baltimore; Taxi Fare (Heartbeat) ’80; Nina Simone cover; 13 sec.
Capital Letters – Run Run Run; Headline News (Greensleeves) ’79 UK youth group
Peter Broggs – Just Because I’m a Rastaman; Rastafari Liveth! (RAS) ’82 DC
Akabu – Feeling Good; Warrior Queen (ON U Sound) ’89 UK female group
Baltimore by Randy Newman
Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin’ to find the ocean Lookin’ everywhere
Hard times in the city In a hard town by the sea Ain’t nowhere to run to There ain’t nothin’ here for free
Hooker on the corner Waitin’ for a train Drunk lyin’ on the sidewalk Sleepin’ in the rain
And they hide their faces And they hide their eyes ’cause the city’s dyin’ And they don’t know why
Oh, baltimore Man, it’s hard just to live Oh, baltimore Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live
Get my sister sandy And my little brother ray Buy a big old wagon Gonna haul us all away
Livin’ in the country Where the mountain’s high Never comin’ back here ’til the day I die
Oh, baltimore Man, it’s hard just to live Oh, baltimore Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live
Set 6: Jamaican Jukebox 45 RPM; 6 sec.
Rob Smarley (aka Albert Griffiths) – Holiday Ride; 7” (Portland) ’78 JA; 7” Jamaican Jukebox set
<Albert Griffiths as Rob Smarley? 14 sec.>
Anthony Johnson – Oh Jah; 7” (Corner Stone) JA
Lady Ann – Informer; 7” (Taxi) ’83 JA
Carlton Livingston – Chalice in Hand; 7” (Taxi) herbtune
Set 8: Mutant Dub*
*Programming Note: power surge from all the Mutant Dub bass knocked the station off air. Most of Jah Woosh and 2 Bad Card zapped by KRCL’s weak sauce transmitter. 2 minutes of dead air chopped from the stream. Mea culpa — the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives. 21 sec.
Ari Up – Kill Em With Love (Collision) 2005 former lead singer of The Slits punk group; mutant dub set
<Reggae History Lesson: punk dubstress Ari Up: The Slits, New Age Steppers, solo 14 sec.>
The Archives feat. Ras Puma – Who’s Correct?; The Archives (ESL) 2012; Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation
Red I – Jahdgement Day; Jahdgement Day (Red I) Phillipines dub
Jah Woosh – Woodpecker Sound; Wild Paarty Sounds vol. 1 (ON U Sound) ‘81
2 Bad Card – Weed Specialist; CD single (ON U Sound) ‘95
Jah Rej – Yes I; 12” (Jah Works)
African Head Charge – Fruit Market; Drastic Season (ON U Sound) ‘83
Parting Shot Words of Wisdom: Do yourself a favor educate your mind!
***From the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives legal offices of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, please read the following disclaimer***
**The operator of the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives wishes those reading to know that we do not endorse, encourage or engage in illegal activity. These writings are in spirit with anti-authoritarian subcultures and are meant solely for informational and or educational purposes only. Edutaiment isn’t illegal….yet***)
4 down, 46 to go!
A year ago I finally turned aspiration into action. And after 25 years of Reggae Radio decided it was time for the Smile Jamaica blog. One more guy on the Internet with an opinion.
I started it out with the 20 Days of Cannabis Service Month. But it mainly became a forum to upload the Smile Jamaica Playlists and links to the Smile Jamaica Show Archives Podcasts. Or Ark-Ives as I call it. As in Black Ark – Lee “Scratch” Perry.
I quickly developed the system of cutting up 3 hours of Radio sound into soundbytes, clips and Reggae History Lessons. Upload the .mp3s. Add some photos and captions. How do you liven up a long list of songs? Week after week. Year after year for a quarter century.
So a year later, I have a crocus bag full of Cannabis Soundbytes. The Seven Leaf Symphony.
<Cannabis History Reggae Lesson – Crocus Bag; 16 sec.>
So for the 4:20 Weekend, I am going to string a whole heap of air checks from Smile Jamaica that talk about the Seven Leaf:
Read your Bible: 30 sec.
Roll a lickle spliff with di papyrus
Smile Jamaica – Healing of the Nations (Revelations 22: 2); 30 sec.
Revelation 22:2. New Testament
It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
Ergo, partake of the Seven Leaf with a fresh crop each month for the healing of the nation. Come together as a community in harmony
Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it
There was no tobacco in the Holy Land during Old Testament times. That was green smoke emanating from the Israelite nasal passages
Or read the story and look below for the Annotated Playlist
Aww, strolling down memory lane. 25 years every Saturday on Smile Jamaica. As the Ark-Ive grows, it just takes too long to cull from A to Z. All the Vinyl especially. I just reminisce too much on each album. Where I bought it, why I bought it. Are there herb tunes or Marley covers I forgot about? Halloween ditties or other oddities….and on and on and on.
So my methodology was to try my best to re-create a potential first episode. (I actually debuted first Saturday of KRCL’s Fall Radiothon). So I knew I would have to have a representative from at least a dozen or so of my original favorite artists….all on Black Wax. 50 Records where I get to juggle, consistently from show to show, between 32-35 selections over 3 hours.
I knew I had to feature these artists:
Lee Perry’s brooding Black Ark sound
Adrian Sherwood’s Mutant Dub ON U Sound label
The Clash – discovered Reggae via UK punkers before Marley, Tosh and Bunny
Plus songs that I absolutely loved in the 1986-1988 Era:
Culture – Calling Rastafari
UB40 female toaster V’s Version from the rare dubble disk UK version pared down to a single in the US – Baggariddim
Big Youth – Get On Up. Hardcore Reggae disco funk
Sister Frica – One in the Spirit: From Methodist Sunday School to Pablo’s “Far East” Jamaican sound
Arthur Louis – beautiful version with Eric Clapton of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Below is the Annotated Playlist: Reggae History Lessons, Soundbites, Playlist, photos and captions.
On this Playlist, I search deep in my LONG term memory to try and remember where I would have purchased these Black Wax Vinyls; 1986-1988. Most of these Record Stores are gone now, but back in the day it was a Vinyl Paradise. Lps were cheap to make way for these new gizmos called CDs.
Thanks for being a part of 25 years listening to Smile Jamaica. Forward ever, backwards never!
Playlist: Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: Sept. 20, 2014
Set 1: 25 Year All Vinyl Is Vital Showcase
Black Uhuru – Party Next Door; Anthem (Mango) ’84 US (Smokey’s Records, SLC)
Bullwackies All Stars – Recording Connection; Black World (Wackies) ’79 Dub Album of the Week; NYC
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Jah Live; Countryman Soundtrack (Mango) ’82 US (Cosmic Aeroplane, SLC); single recorded 1976
<Reggae History Lesson: Bob Marley: You cyaan (can’t) kill God! 25 sec.>
Rita Marley – Beauty of God’s Plan; Rita Marley (Trident) ’81 UK (Streetlight Records, SF)
Culture – Calling Rastafari; Calling Rastafari (Nighthawk) ’82 Various Artist St. Louis, Jah-ssouri (Randy’s Records, SLC)
<Reggae History Lesson: US Record Labels slinging Reggae; 30 sec.>
Black Slate – Legalize Collie Herb + Legal Dub; Rasta Festival (Alligator) UK 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement; ’81 Jah-cago blues label (Rasputin Records, Berkeley)
Desmond Dekker – Big Headed; Compass Point (Stiff) ’81 UK (Streetlight Records, SF)
Junior Byles – Cally Weed; Rasta No Pickpocket (Nighthawk) ’86 herb tune; St. Louis, Jah-ssouri (label promo)
The Selecter – Bristol and Miami; Celebrate the Bullet (Chrysalis) ’81 2 Tone Brit Ska; about riots in UK and FL (Mad Platter Records, SLC)
Don Carlos – Living in Harmony; Prophecy (Blue Moon/Magnum) ’85 UK (RAS mail order, DC)
The Congos – Children Crying; Heart of the Congos (Congo Ashanty) ’77 JA; Lee Perry/Black Ark/Upsetters (RAS mail order)
Big Youth – Get On Up; Rock Holy (Negusa Negast) ’80 JA (RAS mail order)
Burning Spear – Jah a Guh Raid; Hail H.I.M. (Burning Spear) ’80 JA (Rutabaga Records, SLC)
Sister Frica – One in the Spirit; Rockers All Star Explosion (Alligator) ’83 A. Pablo prod’n; Sunday School Hymn (label promo)
Alpha Blondy & the Wailers – Jerusalem; Jerusalem (Stern’s) ’86 UK; Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa (RAS mail order)
Desi Roots – Weedfields; Doing it Right (Hawkeye) ’80 UK; herb tune (Esoteric Records, Sacramento)
Dillinger – Check Sister Jane; King Pharoah (Blue Moon/Magnum) ‘84 UK; Marley Waiting in Vain – Johnny Clarke (Greensleeves mail order, UK)
Arthur Louis – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door; This is Reggae Music vol. 2 (Island) ’75 US Bob Dylan cover (Smokey’s Records, SLC)
<Arthur Louis and Eric Clapton cover Dylan; 32 sec.>
<Reggae History Lesson: Reggae’s love of AM pop and black soul; 23 sec.>
Jimmy Cliff – Keep Your Eyes on the Sparrow; Best of Jimmy Cliff (Island) ’75 Jah-taly; folk ballad (Half Price Records, Berkeley)
UB40 & Sister V – V’s Version; Baggariddim (Virgin) ‘85 dubble disk. Update of Boy Friday rock steady classic (Randy’s Records, SLC)
Ruffy & Tuffy – Third World War; Climax (Black Star) ‘88 Finland (Tower Records, SF)
<World War III as predicted by Nelstradamus last Feb. during Ukraine Coup; 16 sec.>
<Cold War II, Electric Boogaloo: Obama v. Putin; 20 sec.>
Lone Ranger – Legalise the National Herb; Hi-Yo, Silver, Away! (Greensleeves) ’82 UK herb tune (Tower Records, Las Vegas)
Leroy Smart – Rock and Come On; On Top (Micron) ’82 Can. (RAS mail order)
Full Experience feat. Aura – Young, Gifted and Broke; Aura Meets Lee “Scratch” Perry at Black Ark Studios (Blue Moon) Fr. Nina Simone cover; Black Ark w female vox (RAS mail order)
Casselberry & DuPree – Coming in From the Cold; City Down (Icebergg); ’86 Jah-waukee Marley cover (label promo)
The Clash feat. Mikey Dread – Bankrobber/Robber dub; Black Market Clash (NuDisk) 10” US (Randy’s Records)
Johnny Clarke – Rebel Soldering; Don’t Trouble Trouble (Attack) ’88 UK; Bunny Lee comp (Smokey’s Records)
<Smile Jamaica Reggae Lexicon: Soldering or Welding; 10 sec.>
Flick Wilson – Slave Master; School Days (Jah Life) ’80 JA (The Beat, Sacramento, CA)