<Thanks for the positive feedback spinning Reggae Radio for 27 years! bless, robt; 17 sec.>
I have been fortunate enough to do Reggae Radio for 27 years now. July 1988-Aug. 1989 Graveyard stylee on 3 o’clock Roadblock (3 to 6am) Then by pure good luck of timing I moved over to Saturday Afternoons with Smile Jamaica (4 to 7 pm.) Oct. 1989-
<Much love to Juan Verde – John Greene. Who hired me to work for free on KRCL way back in 1988; 44 sec.>
I got accepted into grad school at UCLA but didn’t get a fellowship so I stayed put in Utah. Worked my way into the U of U’s academic library about the same time as I did Smile Jamaica.
Planted my flag and never left both institutions. Last week I decided to celebrate that legacy with a stroll down musical memory lane. Tried to recreate my first show. Being a Librarian I put all my faves into some semblance of chronological order. Pretty much from 1970-1979 for 3 hours.
Had lots of great listener feedback. Thanking me for 27 years of service and killer music selection. When you have something in the neighborhood of 10,000 pieces of Reggae. 30 songs out of that Ark-Ive are are hard as diamond.
But I didn’t get into Reggae until 1986. So my contemporary absorption of Reggae would have been the 80’s era.
This week’s Podcast Ark-Ive celebrates that era.
Bob Marley died 1981
Yellowman became King of Reggae: slackness began to ascend while Roots started to wobble when Edward CIA-ga, the right wing Ronald Reagan fan took over Jamaica. The Socialists fell away and the Rastas lost their power base.
Cocaine took over for Ganja
Like all genres in the 80’s synthesized music began to replace traditional drum and bass.
Dancehall eclipsed Roots Reggae
I was alienated by modern dancehall. My contemporary fix was more into Mutant Dub. I paint a rather bleak picture!
But there was some great Roots Reggae even if the riddims started to blend traditional Reggae with digital drum and bass. This show fixates on the best of the 80’s Reggae that I collected alongside Reggae Revives and 70’s rarities.
I learned from the deejay on Smile Jamaica when I was a civilian listener, John “Rutabaga” Reese. He had the best Roots Reggae instincts of anyone around. I used to listen like the student I was, notebook in hand, jotting down names and titles of killer shots. One after another. Then I would take my list to the Bay Area and spend my student loan money building my Roots Collection; 22 sec.
Here’s what’s on tap for the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: July 18, 2015 – Best of 27 Years Version 2: Favorite 80’s: 1980-1988; 1 min. 52 sec.
Black Uhuru – Party Next Door; Anthem (Island) ‘84
<During 3 O’Clock Roadblock I led off each show with a Black Uhuru jam; 29 sec.>
Jah Shaka Meets Aswad – Addis Ababa; In Addis Ababa (Jah Shaka) ’84 Dub Album of the Week
Peter Tosh – Reggaemyelitis; Wanted Dread & Alive (EMI America) ’81
<My first reggae LP; Xmas ‘81. Thanks Mom!; 15 sec.>
The Beat (aka The English Beat) – Tears of a Clown; I Just Can’t Stop It (Go Feet) ’80; 2 Tone Ska; Smokey Robinson cover
<The Beat called English Beat in US to avoid confusion over SoCal new wave/power pop group; 27 sec.>
John Holt – Police in Helicopter; Police in Helicopter (Greensleeves) ’82; 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
<John Holt – You burn down our weed fields, we’ll burn down your sugar cane and cassava fields; 31 sec.>
Black Slate – Reggae Music; Amigo (bbr) ’80 UK
Michael Prophet – Help Them Please; Gunman (Greensleeves) ‘80
<Reggaemyelitis – There is no cure!; 25 sec.>
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Coming in From the Cold; Uprising (Tuff Gong) ‘80
Ranking Roger & Blue Riddim – America and Russia/Selective Service System (Nancy Goes to Moscow); 12” (ORA) La Habra, CA
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Street 66; Bass Culture (Mango) ’80 UK dub poet
The Selecter – Three Minute Hero; Too Much Pressure (2 Tone) ’80 UK; 2 Tone ska
Dennis Brown – If I Had the World; Foul Play (A & M) ‘81
Aswad – Back to Africa; Showcase (Mango) ’81 UK
Rastafarians – Hold on Jah Jah Children; Orthodox (Makasound) ’81 Santa Cruz, CA
Steel Pulse – Ravers; True Democracy (Elektra) ’82 UK
Peter Broggs – Rastafari Liveth!; Rastafari Liveth! (RAS) ‘82
Fab 5 – Ooh! Ahh!; Countryman (Mango) ’82 sountrack
Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse; Night Nurse (Mango) ‘82
<Jah’s Heavenly Choir: The Crown Prince of Reggae and his bredrin The Cool Ruler; 11 sec.>
Twinkle Brothers – Since I Throw the Comb Away; Live at Reggae Sunsplash (Genes) Aug. 7, 1982 Montego Bay, JA
<Since I Throw the Comb Away – lost my job, my family and my girl; 27 sec.>
Mutabaruka – Everytime A Ear de Soun; Check It! (Alligator) ’83 dub poet
Prince Far I – Survival; Umkhonto we Sizwe – Spear of the Nation (Tamoki Wambesi) ’83
<Prince Far I: You know a rude bwoy by the way he wears his cap; 34 sec.>
Bad Brains – Rally Round Jah Throne; Rock For Light (Caroline) ’83 DC Rasta punks do reggae
<Bad Brains produced by The Cars – Ric Ocasek; 19 sec.>
Aisha – Prophecy; High Priestess (Ariwa) ’88; Faybiane Miranda cover
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
I work in an Academic Library (The Marriott Library at the University of Utah). Part of my duties is to assist patrons at the Help Desk on Level 2.
It is really quiet in the Summer. I thought I would work up a little birthday posting on account of His Imperial Majesty.
I went to the Marriott’s webpage and found a copy of the above photo: Drawn by Alvin Gittens. Hanging on the fifth floor of the Marriott Library.*
*Alvin’s son Chris trained me at KRCL 90.9FM. His father was flown in to Addis Ababa to paint an impatient Emperor. HIM was only willing to sit for about the half the time Gittens’ usually devoted to his portraits. Chris passed away about a decade ago of cancer.
As I was finishing the caption above, a dapper black gentlemen approached my desk. This is a case of serendipity or synchronicity or kismet. The patron wanted to know, in a crisp African accent, where the Library kept its History books on Ethiopia. The Zion of Rastafari. The Kingdom of His Imperial Majesty. Goosebumps!
The Library of Congress Classification for Ethiopian History (or its former name Abyssinia) is in the DT 371-390 shelves.
While I walked this gentleman and his wife to the section, I asked him if he knew today (July 23) was Haile Selassie’s Birthday. His eyes lit up. “How did you know that!”. I told him about Smile Jamaica and my 26 years of devotion to Ethiopian-esque and especially paying tribute and respect to His Imperial Majesty.
He was amazed. I recommended several books I had read. This man is a Physician who was writing a novel set in his home country. We chatted about our mutual admiration for Selassie. He was proud that his country had come out of 25 years of Civil War and repression to be the fastest growing economy in Africa.
It was really nice to know that my admiration of Selassie could be of use in my professional job. And even better: I recruited another soldier of Jah’s Army by virtue of the Rastafari Gospel that I “preach” for 26 years doing Reggae Radio. I let the music function as hymns to HIM.
A suggestion: It is preferred to call believers in HIM: Rastafari. Singular and plural. As Bob Marley said, “Don’t bother me with your isms and schisms”
<Carlene Davis – Isms and Schisms; 4 min>
That said there are two important caveats: The Rastafarians – the Reggae group out of Rasta Cruz, Collie-fornya. And Leonard E. Barrett’s crucial academic book The Rastafarians
Barrett’s book was a huge influence on me. Some of the lessons learned were how important Hinduism was to early Rastas. When Jamaicans threw off the yoke of slavery, British plantation owners imported Hindu laborers from Britain’s India Colony. Blacks and Indians worked side by side.
Hindu influences include:
Reincarnation: Some sects of Rastafari believe that HIM is the embodiment of Christ returning to Earth.
Ganja – Hindus brought Cannabis from India to Jamaica where blacks partook of the Seven Leaf as well
Kali – The Hindu Goddess of destruction where the ritual consumption of cannabis was part of worship. Rastas also ritually smoke cannabis or Collie. “Collie gives you wisdom.”
Dreadlocks – Hindu Sadhus flashed dreads as a physical manifestation of belief. Rastas adopted the practice and modified it with the Old Testament Nazarite Vow
Surgery of that magnitude would have made Bob’s phenomenally successful “Babylon By Bus” tours promoting Exodus and Kaya impossible. Bob was conquering Europe, Japan and America during those crucial years. 100,000 in Milan, Jah-taly.
And to validate his rebel spirit, Bob was the musical act to celebrate the liberation of African Zimbabwe ousting white minority Rhodesia. Bob Marley the Real Revolutionary.
By Survival and his last album, Uprising.Bob was starting to gain the support of the last holdouts to his musical charisma. That would be the important American black music consumer coming out of the decadence of Disco.
Kevin MacDonald’s superb biography of Bob’s life Marley went as far to suggest that doctors would have preferred to have Bob’s leg disarticulated entirely.
Disarticulation is the clinical term for radical amputation.
In the wake of Bob’s passing, at least a score of his bredrin & sistren took to the recording studios to rush tribute songs to the airwaves.
Over the decades, I have devoted Smile Jamaica editions to his legacy entitled Memorial Roots: Livicated to the life works of Bob Marley.
Livicated never dead-icated. One of the Nazirite vows is to not be around death or houses of death. As The Wailers, Peter Tosh and Bunny have sang: No Funeral. No Burial.
Yet, for me, the tragedy becomes the mechanism to recognize the dramatic legacy of Bob who died as he was just about to shoot off into superstardom. With MTV, the breakdown of barriers to black music sold to white kids, his exotic charisma, Bob Marley would have had an 80s musical discography to rival Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, U2 and Madonna.
Imagine Bob Marley at the vanguard against Reaganism and Thatcherism in the 80s. How he would have celebrated the end of the Cold War, the liberation of South Africa. So for me I can’t resist the tragic irony.
Saturday May 11, 2013, the calendar synched for Smile Jamaica to feature 3 hours of Bob Tributes, bootleg live, covers and rarities. Worth a listen to hear the love Bob’s contemporaries had for him and his legacy.
I think in 500 years they will be talking about three artists of the 20th century like we all know Bach, Mozart and Beethoven: The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives Presents: Memorial Roots – Tribute to Bob Marley; May 11, 2013
Tribute to Bob Marley who joined Jah’s Heavenly Choir on this date, 32 years ago.
Cedella Marley Booker – Mother Don’t Cry; Awake Zion (Rykodisc) ‘84; tribute from Bob’s Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Roots Rock Reggae in Dub vol. 1 (Tuff Gong); Dub Album of the Week; dub cuts to Marley vox
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Wake Up and Live; Brisbane, Australia ‘79
Ronnie Davis – Kaya; Jah Love (Music Club); 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement; version galore(1); Bob cover vox
Shorty the President – Kaya; Fire Fire (Charmers); ‘78 Canadian vinyl; version galore(2): Bob cover deejay; ***End of Set 1
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Kaya; Milan, Italy ‘80; herb tune
Sister Carol – Dedicated to Bob Marley; Black Cinderella (Jah Life/Heartbeat) ‘84 singjay tribute
Jimmy Cliff – No Woman No Cry; Follow My Mind (Wounded Bird) ‘75 cover
Johnny Clarke – Crazy Baldhead; Authorized Rockers (Virgin Front Line) ‘76 UK vinyl ‘76; ***End of Set 2
Stevie Wonder – Master Blaster (Jammin’); Hotter Than July (Motown) ‘80
Jah Pelikaho & the Wailers – Jammin’; 21st Century Dub (ROIR) ’80 Wailers go a Jah-pon
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Heathen; Live at the Sunplaza; Tokyo, Jah-pon Apr. 10, 1979; ***End of Set 3
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Africans Unite; Libreville Gabon West Africa; Libreville Jan. 6, 1980
Rita Marley – I’m Still Waiting; Who Feels It Knows It (Shanachie) ‘80
Culture – Double Tribute to the O.M.; Lion Rock (Heartbeat) ‘87 Order of Merit Jamaica’s highest honor; ***End of Set 4
Heptones – Natural Mystic; Good Life (Greensleeves) UK vinyl ‘79
Ziggy Marley – Pass It On; Hawaii 5-0 Soundtrack (CBS)
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Positive Vibration; Kaya Deluxe Edition (Tuff Gong) ‘78; bonus disk: Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam Netherlands July 17, 1978
Judy Mowatt – Joseph; Black Woman (Shanachie) ‘76; comparing Bob to the Biblical Prophet
Bob Marley & the Wailers – War/No More Trouble – Portland July 14, 1978; Request. Lyrics from speech HIM gave at the UN