History of Skinhead Reggae 1968-1972 Book Available Now

The History of Skinhead Reggae 1968-1972 Visiting the Trojan Forum recently there was a post about a new book covering the glory years of 1968-1972 for Skinhead Reggae. This period has already been covered to great extent by Boss Sounds and nothing could really come close to the information contained in that book. But I decided to investigate anyway as I love to get every book I can about the music I love.

Taking a look at the website for the book gives you a better idea of the material covered. From the chapter titles it looks more like the book’s focus is the more well known major artists, producers or releases of Trojan Records and it’s impact on the larger international Reggae market rather than getting too deep into the rarer stuff. The chapter titles include Symarip, Trojan, Pama, Desmond Dekker, Mas Romeo, The Pioneers, Jimmy Cliff, Bob & Marcia, Nicky Thomas, Dave & Ansel Collins, Greyhound, Toots, Judge Dread, Leslie Kong Lee Perry, Harry J, Dandy Livingston, Clancy Eccles, Eric Donaldson, Dennis Alcapone, Dob Marley and more.

Which is fine as long as it doesn’t tread on the already released and amazingly well researched books Tighten Up! by Michael de Koningh & Marc Griffiths and Young, Gifted & Black by Michael De Koningh and Laurence Cane Honeysett which told the near complete story of the Trojan years already.

I’ve also noticed at least 3 different covers for the book which just seems strange. I remember reading online somewhere that there was in fact a book release party around November but can’t find it now. The pages look hastily cut and paste from what I see. Just look at the cover but maybe the info inside is well written. I’ll have to get a copy and see. If anyone has already gotten this book let me know what you think.

You can check out a preview of the book with some pages and order the book via print on demand service Lulu in soft or hard cover right now. Use coupon JANBOOKS13 and save 20% off too.

Below is how the website describes the book.

The relationship between the original skinheads of the late 1960’s and reggae music are often a source of debate, as to the uninitiated they seem curious partners. The raw unpretentious sounds of reggae, with the enduring overtones of Rocksteady were in great contrast to the mainstream progressive rock and pop that was the mainstay of the BBC playlists at that time. The music was often first heard at the school disco as very little reggae received air play on the BBC. What is in no doubt by the summer of 69 skinheads and reggae we inseparable a phase that was to last until 1972.

Reggae evolved in 1968, superseding rocksteady as Jamaica’s dominant musical style, characterized by a guitar rhythm that accentuated the second and fourth beat in each bar with the rhythm guitar either emphasising the third beat or holding the chord on the second beat until the fourth is played. The shift from rocksteady to reggae was pioneered by Bunny Lee with the organ shuffle sound featuring initially on Clancy Eccles ‘Say What Your Saying’ Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s ‘People Funny Boy’ and the Pioneers 1967 track ‘Long Shot Bus’ Me Bet’. Early 1968 saw the release of the true reggae sound with ‘Nanny Goat’ by Larry Marshall and ‘No More Heartaches’ by The Beltones.

In 1969 a record produced by Bunny Lee would take the charts by storm and become an anthem for the skinheads. Despite the ban by the BBC Max Romeo’s ‘Wet Dream’ reached number ten on the UK chart and was reputed to have sold over 250,000 copies.

The two main players vying for success were Pama a label formed in 1967 by brothers Harry, Jeff and Carl Palmer with a base in North London and Trojan with a base in Neasden, North West London. Trojan was formed as a result of a tie in with Lee Gopthal’s (B&C) and Island record owner Chris Blackwell. Trojan would go on to release over 20 hit singles receiving plenty of air play, the success with the British charts thanks in the main to the skinheads embracing the music and adopting it as their own.

The book tells the story of the rise of reggae, and its followers, the skinheads from 1968 to its height, and subsequent demise as by the end of 1972 reggae had again evolved to what some say was, watered down and string laden. A far cry from the original raw sounds of the late 1960’s which the remaining skinheads could no longer empathise. By the end of 1972 the youth had moved on who had by now ‘grown their hair a bit, not too long, and wore a baseball shirt with a number seventeen on’.

All of the major artist of the time, some who have sadly passed on are reviewed with their singles and chart positions, their albums and of course the compilation budget LP’s that were to become a mainstay, and a very important part of the skinheads collection. The leading producers of the day without whom none of this could have happened are also reviewed.

The story ends with one of the most influential pieces of work ever to emanate from Jamaica, a masterpiece that would catapult reggae to the world stage, the feature film ‘The Harder They Come’ complete with its soundtrack rightly said to be one of the most acclaimed compilation albums of reggae ever released.

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.