June 10th, 2008
Title: Reggae Nashville: Deep Roots Music Vol. 1-3
Label: Dist. by MVD Visual
Format: Color, Compilation, DVD-Video, NTSC
Region: All regions
Catalog No: MVD 49-51
Deep Roots Music, an extraordinary documentary on Jamaican reggae music that was originally filmed in the early ’80s as a six part series for the BBC, was recently released on three DVDs (each including two of the original segments). Director Howard Johnson takes us on a musical journey through the complex history and culture of reggae music. Included are countless interviews and vintage footage of some of Jamaica’s most prolific musicians, producers and cultural icons. What is remarkable about this series is that it deviates from the customary documentary format and instead is filmed with a process oriented theme that gives the viewer a fly-on-the-wall perspective to Jamaican music and culture. The series is narrated by the late British reggae icon Mikey Dread, who provides the minimal commentary tying the segments together. Each DVD contains two thematic 50 minute segments skillfully blending the music and culture together:
Revival, explores reggae’s roots and stylistic influences, including Kumina, Poco, Burru, Mento, and Ska. Featured is archival and never-before-seen footage of the Skatalites, Toots and the Maytals, and Count Ossie, along with interviews with cultural historians that help bridge the gap from African music to reggae. Ranking Sounds unveils the origins of dee-jaying and toasting by introducing the mobile sound system and the birth of the Jamaican recording industry. Featured in this segment is Count Matchoucki, U-Roy, Prince Jammy, Prince Buster, and a rare interview with Duke Reid’s widow.
Bunny Lee Story is an intimate look inside legendary producer Bunny Lee’s studio plus conversations with Prince Jammy, Delroy Wilson, Jackie Edwards, and Wayne Smith. Black Ark looks at the influence of Rastafari on reggae music, featuring rare footage of His Imperial Majesty Haile Salassie 1 during his visit to Jamaica, as well as Nyahbinghi drumming, the Mighty Diamonds and Bob Marley. Also provided is an in-depth look into the creative cosmos that is Lee “Scratch” Perry and his Black Ark studio.
Following is an excerpt from this segment, including opening and closing credits:
Money In My Pocket shows the connection between politics, commerce and music. Featured in this segment is the footage of the infamous Bob Marley & the Wailers concert where he united rival political candidates during the bitter and violent campaign of 1978. Also highlighted in this segment is a close look at the “prince of reggae,” Dennis Brown, in his studio. Ghetto Riddim examines the process of finding new talent by showcasing street corner auditions, including an afternoon at Jack Ruby’s as he holds his weekly auditions outside the gates of his studio.
Deep Roots Music is a crucial series that provides much greater depth than most documentaries on Jamaican music. The interviews and rare footage alone make the series one of the most definitive resources on reggae music to date.
Posted by Heather O’Sullivan
Review Genre(s): Reggae