I know I’m not the main blog-contributor, and I often feel sorry about it. I’m not digging deep as Biondo or Jippie do in the config, or in the West history as SAPE and Grey do… But from time to time there is a small fact I think that might be interesting to share. So here’s a post with facts between my 2 loves; Reggae music and Western movies.
These two worlds seems to be totally different, right? Yet there is a nice connection to tell (well, I believe it’s interesting). The story goes like this:
Reggae music is a blend of different music-influences in Jamaica. Rythm and Blues was big in the ’50 so local musicians tried to make music like that. Only with the independence of JA, the music started to sound like the Reggae sound we know today. So typically about Reggae is that it’s the music of the people, for the people. Own produced and played for the ‘real’ people in the streets. In first instance, Reggae didn’t get ant airplay on the radios, so local producers started playing their music loud on their own ‘sound system’. This kept the music always very close with every day live; and also the producers and singers weren’t hollywood stars but real people that sang about everyday live: poverty, misery, violence but also about love, hope, education or even religion.
Of course, like any nation, also the Jamaican people dreamed of a different live. When Reggae was big on the isle, in the early and mid ’70, big hollywood productions started to infiltrate the local cinemas and so, every day live.
Producers were very creative and competitive to create their own sound, their own inventions and thus being the champion sound. First, they invented the ‘Dub’ or ‘Dubplate’. This is a reggae single but without the vocal-line and and effects like reverb added on the track. This created a familiar sound of the original single but gave the producers the chance to show off their engineer skills. (their are and were no copyright laws in Jamaica so producers just copied and changed the songs a bit 😉 But now second invention: lyrics could be changed so they were more based on the actual happenings of that week or even day; but how do you make a dub (without the vocals) something ‘actual’, something ‘brand new’. The solution was simple for the Jamaicans. Just call the song or the album to something ‘cool’ and ‘brand new’. So producers started adopting film titles and changed them, or they just referred to their favourite themes, actors, storylines and so on. First westerns, later Kung Fu and Sci-fi.
Enough chat, time for some examples.
Classic title is a Lee Perry album: ‘Kung Fu meets the dragon’, a reference to kung fu movies hitting the island: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec7K1sUkqLI
You might notice some albums used some samples (very new then!) but not always. Some tracks were just a reference to a title, nothing more.
Another example? A dub by Scientist is funny called ‘Beam me up Dubby’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3jbjfBhwc4 a reference to Star Trek’s ‘Beam me up Scotty’
Or more Scientist: ‘http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heftJDSFjuk‘ the album ‘Prince Jammy and Scientist strikes back’. All titles are references to Star Wars movies:. My favourite title: track 10: “C-3PO + R2-D2 = The Force ” (notice also the cool artwork of all Scientist albums)
Even more: A Sly and Robbie album ‘ Raiders of the lost dub’. Of course album title, song titles and artwork of the cover are all references to Indiana Jones.
Of course, the Italian Western movies were influential too. Recently some vinyl labels reissued some older work, and I noticed they got some references to Western movies! Guess my surprise:
Here they are:
High Plains drifter by Lee Perry & The upsetters, with titles like ‘The Man with no Name’ and High Plains drifter, a reference to a ’73 movie with Clint Eastwood! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068699)
Second release is a new one. Theses references are still used today:
Prince Fatty and Mutant HiFi, ‘Return of the Gringo’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csIJtlLkIMc, with titles like ‘the good, the vlad and the ugly’) :
“Put simply, it is a surf/ska/spaghetti western soundtrack album for a film that is yet to be made. Think Dick Dale jamming with the Skatalites with Morricone at the helm, including appearances from Alessandro Alessandroni (the original spaghetti western whistler) and you’re in the right section at the record store, although it is possibly a very small section. “
Short: great music! Will be in my next shopping list.
You might have noticed, my examples are most of the time just references, but in some rare case, like ‘the return of the gringo’, reggae music gets blended with western soundtracks. And then, it gets exciting.’ Old example; early rocksteady: Jesse James rides again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojUPS6o1C9k (song starts after 14seconds, mark the sound of bullets!)
But lets get up to date: This one is the last example, one of my favourites. Mark how great the Western soundtrack blends in with the heavy bass and strong rhythm.Vibronics ‘Fistful of Dub’ (of course, another reference.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVJnXJKjYvM
That’s all folks, hope you enjoyed it, and have fun exploring my universe!