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Be it Studio One, Trojan, Stiff, 2 Tone or Island Records, Skinhead Reggae Boss Sounds, Rocksteady, Lovers rock, Dub, 1st, 2nd or 3rd Wave the idea of a Jamrock UK night is the second room of quality sounds on Bournemouth Pier!

The Music A Brief History

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Ska was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads, Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s (First Wave), the English 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s (Second Wave) and the third wave ska movement, which started in the 1980s and rose to popularity in the UK/US in the 1990s.

Early Reggae sometimes dubbed “skinhead reggae” due to its popularity among the working class subculture in the UK, started in the late 1960s, as the influence of funk music from American labels such as Stax began to permeate the playing of studio musicians. The characteristic defining early reggae from rock steady is the “bubbling” organ, a percussive style of playing that brought to closer light the eighth-note subdivision within the groove. The guitar “skanks” on the second and fourth note of the bar were more frequently doubled up in recording studios using electronic tape echo effects, thus complementing the double-time feel of the organ bubble.

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Overall more emphasis was on the groove of the music; the growing trend of recording a “version” on the B-side of a single produced countless instrumentals led by a horn or organ. Major skinhead reggae artists include John Holt, Toots & the Maytals, The Pioneers and Symarip. Cover versions of Motown, Stax and Atlantic Records soul songs were common in skinhead reggae, reflecting the popularity of soul music with skinheads and Mods. Reggae as a musical term first appeared in print with the 1968 rocksteady hit “Do the Reggay” by The Maytals

Roots Reggae is a spiritual type of music whose lyrics are predominantly in praise of Jah (God). Recurrent lyrical themes include poverty and resistance to government and racial oppression. The creative pinnacle of roots reggae was in the late 1970s with singers such as Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Clarke, Horace Andy, Ijahman Levi, Barrington Levy, Big Youth, and Linval Thompson, and bands like Culture, Israel Vibration, the Meditations, and Misty in Roots, teaming up with various studio producers including Lee ‘Scratch’ Perryand Coxsone Dodd. Musically, on the song “Roots, Rock, Reggae” Marley devised a new style of “off beat” music where a bar of six beats is played, with the guitar skanking on the fourth and sixth beat. Although entirely separate from the beats of ska, rock steady, reggae, skank, flyers, rockers and all later styles, this unique beat seems to have been so closely associated with Marley that few others adopted it.

Rocksteady A successor to ska and a precursor to reggae, rocksteady was performed by Jamaican vocal harmony groups such as The Gaylads, The Maytals and The Paragons. The term rocksteady comes from a dance style that was mentioned in the Alton Ellis song “Rock Steady”. Dances performed to rocksteady were less energetic than the earlier ska dances. The first international rocksteady hit was “Hold Me Tight” (1968) by the American soul singer Johnny Nash; it reached #5 in the United Kingdom and United States

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The Rockers style was created in the mid-1970s by Sly & Robbie. Rockers is described as a flowing, mechanical, and aggressive style of playing reggae. One article calls the rockers era the “Golden Age of Reggae”.

The Lovers Rock subgenre originated in South London in the mid-1970s. The lyrics are usually about love. It is similar to rhythm and blues. Notable lovers rock artists include: Gregory Isaacs, Freddy McGregor, Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest and Beres Hammond.

Dub is a genre of reggae that was pioneered in the early days by studio producers Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and King Tubby. It involves extensive remixing of recorded material, and particular emphasis is placed on the drum and bass line. The techniques used resulted in an even more visceral feel described by King Tubby as sounding “jus’ like a volcano in yuh head.” Augustus Pablo and Mikey Dread were two of the early notable proponents of this music style, which continues today.

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