HARD COPY Diggin Through the Archives & Book Review

Back in January I was all set to start a new column over at Musical Occupation. At the time there were a bunch of posts about new digital distribution which got me thinking about other media that’s been effected by that revolution, mainly books and print. This piece is a rehash of that first column where I laid out my intentions and a jumping point for getting it started here.

I cherish all my books and magazines, anything that I can hold and read over and over again. Sure there are some good sites but it’s still pretty bare on well researched or easily read information on many areas of music and artists – most legendary Jamaican artists barely have a website period. But these books have a ton of information. I can also go back and read them while sitting in a plane or on the train or in car by the park (a little too Dr. Suess maybe?).

The past few years have been good for books about the music. There was a flood of books on The Specials since they were back, a huge tome on Madness and a 30 year history on Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues. A brand new book from Pauline Black is about to be published and I’m still working my way through that Madness one.

This is in stark contrast to the prior years which were pretty bare. Didn’t seem much of anything was published in the aughts. Trojan Records released 2 books about their long history early in the decade and that was about it. Ten years ago there were plenty of zines that were released all the time but since the internet took over printed material has become scarce. There used to be the great Rude International and Skatastrophe magazines. There was the Moon Ska Gazette. There were books on the Skinhead sub-cult and vintage reggae bibles (long out of print) like Boss Sounds. Hell there was a whole publishing company geared towards sub-cult books called ST Publishing (oh the books they released!). There are also the many guides to the music like The Rough Guide To Reggae which is packed FULL of great stuff.

It might just be a blurb or could be a more in-depth review of the material in front of me. The main goal is to highlight some of the history of the printed format and how great it was to hold that book. That wonder and amazement of finally finding a book about this music I loved. I could hold it and take my time slowly turning the pages taking in each letter of my new text in trying to learn more about this lifestyle and musical history.

The column was to lead off with a review of Heather Augustin’s Ska: An Oral History book which was published last year. I finally got around to putting up a piece on that book here which got me thinking about the column again. So we’ll start this again. We’re farther then we were last time already! Happy reading.

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.