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The Life and Times of Grandpa Parm & Scheme-On

Reggae Review

With so much bad music making the rounds in these tumultuous times, many of us music aficionados look to the good ol’ days to provide us with quality vibrations. Reggae is no different, and because the genre has had a fairly drastic makeover in the last 25 years, reggae is the perfect example of how the old is so much better than the new.

In an effort to define the genre of reggae music, I will describe what I see as two schools of reggae. Dancehall reggae and roots reggae are very different and should not be confused although artists tend to cross lines quite often. Dancehall is known for its fast rhythms and talking or chanting over the beats. DJ’s made this form popular as the youth found something to relate to while on the streets of Jamaica. These days, one could consider the vocal aspect of dancehall as a form of rapping, and dancehall is credited for influencing hip hop.

Roots reggae on the other hand is slower with simple drumbeats and traditional singing. Roots is the original Jamaican musical genre known as “reggae”. Modern reggae reflects this division in the genre and although dancehall is currently more widely accepted and popular around the world, there are many roots reggae bands springing up all over the place. Bands such as Groundation, Gondwana and Rebelution are a couple of my favorite modern roots bands.

Unfortunately, for reggae purists like me, heavy roots albums exists few and far between. On top of that, the best decade for roots reggae was the 70’s, which makes some of the true gems hard to find. Luckily, there are many modern reggae labels such as Blood and Fire, Greensleeves, and Heartbeat, who are repressing and distributing classic albums for our enjoyment.

For an example of such an album, look at Twinkle Brothers‘ 1975 album, “Rasta Pon Top”. This gritty roots record shows the rawness of true roots music and the beauty that is the fusion of great voices and the simple riddims of the time. Look out for more examples of hard, heavy roots music here at the Review.

– Parm

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September 29, 2008 - Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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