In November 2018 Unesco, the educational, scientific and cultural organization of the United Nations, added reggae to its list of cultural institutions that deserve protection and preservation. Reggae is more than Jamaica's national music. It is a social force that serves the full cultural needs of the Jamaicans, both in the cerebral, political, sensual and spiritual sense.
In Jamaica, some people say that reggae music is the vocal equivalent or The Talking Gleaner of the Jamaican daily newspaper The Gleaner.
In the Netherlands, one of the largest (vinyl) collection of reggae music on earth can be found. The vinyl collection of an authority in this area Aad Brakus (The Hague) consists of more than 45,000 albums. During the fair, Buster will exhibit the 100 most special records from his collection. Ever since he grew up as a child in his grandma’s café with reggae records in the jukebox - think of Jimmy Cliff with Vietnam or Desmond Dekker with The Israelites - Aad lives reggae. Especially in his younger years the melody and lyrics caught his attention. In the years that followed, Aad personally met and interviewed reggae musicians, released records, presented radio programs, wrote articles about the subject, and roamed around in famous Jamaican studios. Aad is present during the fair to answer questions and give expert comments.
Jamaica, the tiny island of the Caribbean, has a rich history of music and dancing which dates way back. Think of local traditions like Pukkumina, Maroon, Ring play, Bruckins, Work songs, Jonkunnu and Mento. After gaining independence from the British Empire August 1962 the first indigenous music was Ska, followed up by Rock Steady in 1966. During 1968 Reggae (early alternate spellings are Reggay or Rege) was born in the western slums of Jamaican’s capitol Kingston where most creators of this new music were born, grew up and lived. The new beat was first heard at the existing sound systems events on the island. Some famous names included Coxson Dodd’s Downbeat, Duke Reid the Trojan and Lloyd’s Sound System the Matador. About the latter an in-depth book has been written by Jamaican music connoisseur and radio announcer Rich Lowe titled The Matador - Lloyd Daley-Sonic pioneer of Jamaican music. Reggae music embodied the emergence of black pride and became known as the music of struggle as many singers began calling attention to poor social conditions. One group became less dormant during the mid-70’s, the Rastafarians who saw Ethiopia as Zion and Haile Selassie as the ’Living God’. Wearing their hair matted in dreadlocks and smoking ganja "Holy weed" and living the "ital" way in spirit, language and food, it was certainly the Rasta’s movement became more visible than during the decades before. The Red, Gold & Green colours of Ethiopia’s national flag and the picture of H.I.M. Haile Selassie were used in many eye catching album covers.
From 1968 up to the early 70’s reggae music embraced not only the Hammond organ but also inspired musicians to record instrumental tunes (especially those of Western movies were favourite) and rude boys songs. It also marked the importance of the Soundsystem DJ, who, by now, expanded his role in becoming a recording artist, think of people like U-Roy, Big Youth, King Stitt and Dennis Alcapone. Songs could be heard on- air outside Jamaica including hits of Desmond Dekker, Dave & Ansel Collins, Bob & Marcia, Max Romeo and Jimmy Cliff. In the UK the songs didn’t got the airplay it deserved but through a large West-Indian community many songs ended up in the British top 10. Another contributing factor of this success was the skinhead movement, who adapted the early reggae sound as theirs. Trojan, Pama and Island records played an essential role in distributing the reggae in England and eventually Europe and beyond. Technical improvements of the recording studios in Jamaica and upcoming producers like Lee Perry, Herman Chin-Loy, Joe Gibbs, Clancy Eccles and King Tubby led to the birth of Dub music around mid-70’s. The Hoo-Kim brothers builded Channel One Studio and became in a short period of time one of the leading forces in the Jamaican music industry. Although the secular reggae sounds of the 70’s were often militant and revolutionary (Rockers & Steppers sound) it never lost its religious part. Singers like Otis Wright, Ken Parker, Adina Edwards and Claudelle Clarke are only a few names to mention who released reggae inspired gospel albums. Also the politics, especially Michael Manley PNP’s party, used reggae music as a tool to get their message spread to the people. The JLP of Hugh Shearer was beaten twice in 1972 and in 1976 by Michael "Joshua" Manley who used his Rod of Correction (given to him by Haile Selassie) and the Musical Bandwagon to the maximum effect. Sadly the politics (or politricks as Rasta’s would say) lead to a major setback of the music industry in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Some studio’s closed their doors like Federal and Studio One and many well-known artists stayed abroad were life was much easier than in Jamaica. Many Cratediggers of Jamaican music will recognize the hissy "fried bacon" sounds of 45’s and albums pressed during this period.
High import taxes made it very difficult for pressing plants to get virgin vinyl, so old records were granulated and melted down to be used again for "newly" pressed records. Despite the declining economy reggae music didn’t stop to develop. A whole new generation of dancehall singers and DJ’s arrived in the 90’s and the first computerised sound made his entry. It was now possible with a minimum of musicians and music instruments to create new rhythms (riddims). Prince Jammy (who started as a an engineer) became King Jammy, a highly respected and influential producer. Reggae music created in the next three decades new offspring’s and the 90’s embraced the ragamuffin and reggaeton, the 00’s the ragga-jungle, drum & bass, and finally the 10’s the dubstep, moombahton and for the more authentic reggae lover, the reggae revival!
The Reggae Expo will showcase 100 rare LP-jackets, starting from the early years, going into the DJ, dub era and 80’s steppers & rockers sound. Also some examples will be shown of folk, political and gospel albums. During the selection of the sleeves special attention has been made to avoid any rare albums which has been re-pressed over the last two decades or so. More info will also be presented about the upcoming book of musician Lloyd "The Matador" Daley.