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Reggae Britannia

February 13th, 2011 · Posted by Skuds in Music · 5 Comments · Music

Last night I watched Reggae Britannia on the BBC’s iPlayer.  It was a worthy addition to BBC Four’s xxxxx Britanna series but, as always, it was frustrating to see what was missed out.

I know you can’t fit absolutely everything into 90 minutes, but not even mentioning Misty in Roots in passing?

Of course, any history of reggae will be complicated especially if you try to concentrate on British reggae, because of the feedback between Britain and Jamaica and the way the punks took reggae onboard, leading to reggae influences in all sorts of places since.   I know the Clash and the Slits were featured but not the Ruts or Scritti Polliti.  Just check out Bob Marley’s Punky Reggae Party, which namechecks a lot of the punk bands for evidence of the shared attitude.

For me, the biggest gap was everything since the mid-80s and the way dub influenced dance music in general and the particularly the trance/trip-hop scene – not even a passing mention of Bristol – and obviously dubstep.  If you want a good example of dub-influenced bands then look no further than Ozric Tentacles.

A shame also to see coverage of 2-Tone limited to the Special and the Selecter with Madness mentioned only briefly in passing and the Beat and Bad Manners not at all.  It didn’t really convey the way that, in 1979/1980 it felt like 2-Tone was taking over the world.

If anything, the programme understated the impact that the musical style of one small island had on nearly every other type of music – even Yes go a little bit ska on one track of their album The Ladder.


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