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
<Even year magic: San Francisco Giants and the World Series>
The Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives Holy Trinity of Obsessions
Reggae and Dubwize
Green Bay Packers NFL
San Francisco Giants baseball
Sunday Night conundrum: My two favorites are playing at the same time. Praise Jah for DVR. Packers versus Saints. So I’m watching the World Series live while I “chop up” the Smile Jamaica Jah-loween Monster Hash 3 Hour Blast.
World Series: Royals vs my Giants. Madison Bumgarner is the Royals nightmare. Three down, 1 to go!
Been a fan of both teams since I was in elementary school. Suffered through decades of thin gruel till they started getting good with the sugar high (ha ha) of Barroid Bonds, the pre-perv Brett Favre era.
I got the dubble dose in 2010-2011. Giants finally broke through since they relocated from NYC to San Francisco in 1958. (I was so happy I bought a new car the day after they spanked the Rangers 4 games to 1).
Then when Brett Favre was showing his ding a ling to a bunch of gals, Aaron Rodgers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 leading the Packers to victory in the Super Bowl.
And after a roller coaster season, here comes the Giants again. However, I must admit. I grew up a Dodgers fan until something outrageous happened that made me hate Dodger Blue like Rastas hate pork chops.
Growing up in Fort Benton, Montana our family would pack up for two weeks every summer. Big old Ford Station wagon. My dad had to drive about 1250 miles each way. Back in the wooly days before MADD, he’d grab a sixer of Olympia beer and head out on the open road.
My grandfather lived in Turlock, Collie-fornya (home of Niners QB Colin Kapoernick) but if we were gonna check Disneyland and Knottsberry Farm, we would head for our relatives who lived in Hawthorne (home of the Beach Boys).
Probably through that connection I was a Dodgers fanatic. Here is what kind of fan I was: I won my age group’s Punt, Pass and Kick competition in Fort Benton. Rather than compete at the next level in Great Falls, I stayed home to watch the Dodgers play the Oakland A’s in the World Series.
Oct. 1974. The era of 3 channels; no VCR’s; no DVR’s. The A’s spanked the Dodgers 4-1. I remember Dodger first basemen Bill Buckner being thrown out at home and I started crying. (9 years old.) I wasn’t a bit surprised he effed up that grounder to first as a Red Sock in 1986.
Wheel it forward a few years. The old school Dodger manager, Walter Alston, retired. Tommy Lasorda took his place. Brash and Italian where Alston was serious and pensive. Lasorda might have been a paisan but he was Hollywood all the way.
Tommy Lasorda is the reason I became a Dodger hater and a life long San Francisco Giant fan. What happened? Tommy Lasorda committed the heinous crime of playing himself in a television episode of the 70’s crap TV show Fantasy Island. Mar. 28, 1978: That was an unforgivable sin.
The next week the 1978 baseball season started. In order to be an anti-Dodger, the only play was to become a San Francisco Giants fan. 35+ years later whenever I see that camera hog Tommy Lasorda I throw the malocchio his way.
Summer of Roots continues into its 3rd month: Jah-gust on Smile Jamaica
<August? No, Jah-gust!; 16 sec.>
Here is what I featured on this week’s edition of Smile Jamaica: Aug. 2, 2014
I tell you the story about how Reggae and the Bible and the Hairy Eyeball all mashed up at my sister Stacey’s wedding 20 years ago.
<Bozrah and the Hairy Eyeball: Wedding Bell Blues; 2 min 38 sec>
I love the TV show Ancient Aliens. When I retired from doing political interviews on Radioactive KRCL (2003-2012), I ditched the hopeless of change and embraced my Ancient Alien heritage. Modern Aliens, the Greys? Meh…
<Hovercraft soundbyte; 27 sec.>
Jah-gust 2, 2014: Smile Jamaica Playlist with photos, captions and sound bytes.
The In Crowd – Born in Ethiopia; His Majesty Is Coming (Creole) ’78 Fr. Vinyl;
Prince Jammy – Jammin’ for Survival; Rodigan’s Dub Classics: Serious Selections Volume 1 (Rewind Selecta) ’96 dub comp; Dub Album of the Week
Laurel Aitken – Heile Heile (The Lion); Woppi King (Trybute) tribute to HIM by ska legend
The Abyssinians – In a Kalda; Reunion (AO!) ’98 song about horse racing in JA
Black Roots – Oh Mama Africa; On the Ground (Sugar Shack) 2012 UK
Gregory Isaacs & Kenny Knots – Bush Ganja + Love Is the Key; 10” (Inner Sanctuary) 2005 4:20 Cannabis Servic Announcement
Hollie Cook – 99; Twice (Mr. Bongo) 2014 mutant dubstress out of UK***End of Set 1
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Jammin’; Live Forever (Tuff Gong) last live Pittsburgh, Jah-sylvania; 9/23/80: Stanley Theatre
Sarah B Band – Realign My Mind; Realign My Mind (Sarah B Band) 2011 SLC group
Danny Red – Little More High Grade; 10” (Sip a Cup); 2003 mutant dub herbtune***End of Set 2
Mike Brooks – Train to Buzz Rock; 10” (Teams); Bozrah with his garments dipped in blood: Isaiah 63:1
Zema – Free at Last; Black Sheep (Melchizedek) female roots out of So Cal
Bunny Wailer – Put It On; Rule Dancehall (Shanachie) ‘87***End of Set 3
Jackson Browne – Everywhere I Go; I’m Alive (Elektra) ’93 Rockers do Reggae set
The Clash – Guns of Brixton (w/ Paul Simonon intro) – London Calling (Epic) ‘79
<Paul Simonon on Reggae and The Clash; 1 min 25 sec.>
<Reggae History Lesson: Paul Simonon’s bass prowess; 35 sec.>
Ben Harper – Burn One Down; Voodoo Child (bootleg); herbtune; Bonn, Germany; 10/20/97
The Members – Offshore Banking Business/Pennies in the Pound (Virgin) ’79 UK New Wave group***End of Set 4
Casselberry and DuPree – Positive Vibration; City Down (Icebergg) ’86 Milwaukee, Jah-sconsin; Marley cover; Vinyl is Vital set
Derrick Morgan – Great Collie Herb New Style; Sly-Robbie + the Taxi Gang: Purpleman + Friends (Vista Sounds) ’83 UK herbtune
The Eclipse Band – Corrupted Society; Inner Reggae Rhythm (Only Roots) ’78 Fr.
Dillinger – Melting Pot; Badder Than Them (A & M) ’81 US
Barry Brown – Masses of the People; Stand Firm (Justice) ’80? JA***End of Set 5
Back from the land of my birth: Fort Benton, Jah-tana. Put a thousand miles on the Dubmobile. I took the long way home
Wheel it back to July 12…
Finished up Smile Jamaica, Saturday Night Stylee from SLC north on a hot evening jag to Idaho Falls. Nice to have late night sun to cruise to. Heavy duty bass tunes to keep me awake without caffeination. Every. Step. of the Way. Bunk for the night. Get in to a Super Full Moon dark sky about Midnite. (213 miles).
Straight up I-15. Sunday Morning. No road rage here. 6am and I am up. As Bob sang, “Sun is shining and the weather is sweet. Makes me wanna move my dancing feet.” In Jah-tana in July, the Sun is up at 5am and sets after 11pm.
Caffeine + bass = caffabass. Better set the cruise control or Johnny Law will give I the Hairy Eyeball.
A heinous drive in the Winter. Until my fams started having Xmas in Jah-buquerque, New Jah-xico a few years back, I got stopped at the Monida pass 3 times in 20+ years You have two choices when the Roads on I-15 get shut down between Spencer, Idaho and Lima, Jah-tana. Or as I call it the 30 Miles of White Knuckles at 25 MPH.
Live like a refugee with thousands of other Snowbirds from Canada, long haul and livestock trucks and other Holiday travelers in the school gymnasium in Lima (population 227)
Hope to Jah you can get a hotel room in Dillon, Jah-tana (-50 miles back over brutal roads) or worse Butte (-112 miles).
Summer is a different story than White Out Jah-tana
I cross the Continental Divide a half dozen times, half a dozen rivers. Spring Wheat is a carpet of green. Winter Wheat starting to turn golden brown.
Wind my way tillButte, Jah-tana. (Hastings chain book/music/movie spot in any Metro city of the Big Sky state.) Lots of cheap rock catalog stuff: Black Sabbath, Alice and Aerosmith for $5. New Beats Antique. (205 miles)
Headed for the People’s Republic of Missoulafor two days of cratedigging and bookdigging (Rockin’ Rudys, Ear Candy Records). Saw the new Planet of the Apes movie. Good but the Hercules trailer looks better. North of $300 at Rockin’ Rudy’s. Lots of buttons, magnets and T-shirts. Added to my Dylan and Drake bootleg collection. Took three clerks and the owner came out as they rang me up. I am known as a “whale” in the Cratedigging biz. Lots of great used stock I read about in Rolling Stone and Mojo. Bob & Gene, Cheech and Chong. Some Missoula reggae, The New CSNY reissue. Ear Candy: Bombay Disco and a group called Kadavar. Checked everywhere but no Vinyl for I’n’ I to be had in Jah-tana. The vagaries of cratedigging. (118 miles)
One day back in my old University town, Bozeman, Jah-tana. Main Street stroll: Cactus Records, Vargo’s Jazz and Books. A beer at the resurrected Rockin’ R
Not finding good luck in Bozeman lately. The Anchorman 2 and American Hustle Soundtracks was about it. Funny story buying Bob Marley and Johnny Cash Tee shirts in the mall. More to come…(202 miles)
Then home to the Hi Line (North Central Montana) through Helena (the Capitol) and Great Falls. 35 miles to the Birthplace of Jah-tana: Fort Benton. (225 miles).
Read on for today’s Smile Jamaica Jah-o-graphical History Lesson
The photo above is from the Aluminum (i.e. CD) share of the Smile Jamaica Ark-IvesI come from the land of the ice and snow. From the Midnight sun where the hot springs flow. Cratedigging in the land of my birth. Fort Benton, Jah-tana. Others might call it the Big Sky state: Montana
Found some great music this far North. Til I get back, enjoy last week’s edition of Smile Jamaica: July 12, 2014 Thanks for listening on the Mixcloud Here’s how we did on the Mixcloud charts for the July 5 Ark-Ive Episode
Give thankx for listening and keep spreading the word on 26 years of Roots Reggae!
So have you all ever heard the American folk tale about Shep? The loyal dog who lived in a train station. He waited for his (deceased) master everyday to return until he slipped on the railroad tracks and was killed by a train that could not stop in time. That is the definition of loyalty and love. He is from Fort Benton!