Reggae Brittania Documentary

Category : Reggae News

How Jamaican music helped transform Britain’s pop music and society, is the subject of Reggae Brittania, a documentary currently being shown by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  Reggae Brittania is directed by respected English film-maker Jeremy Marre who looks at the impact Jamaican popular music had on British youth in the 1960s.
Through interviews with Aswad’s Brinsley Forde and David Hinds of Steel Pulse, Marre also examines how ska, rock steady and roots-reggae affected first-generation British West Indians.
“I wanted it to be a positive story, to show how reggae in this country
evolved and impacted on British music, society and even politics. And how reggae as it evolved here, took on a kind of Britishness,” Marre told The Telegraph newspaper.
The first wave of West Indian migration to Britain took place in 1948 when hundreds of islanders arrived on the SS Windrush to help boost that country’s economy which had taken a beating during World War II.
Many first-generation British West Indians, like Hinds, were born in the
1950s. He recalls how difficult it was for him and other black youth
attending school in a pre-dominantly white society.
Hinds said he was taught about pivotal events in British history, like the
Battle of Hastings. It was when he started listening to music from his
parents’ native Jamaica that he finally discovered “something that was
ours”.
Ska had a major following among rebellious British youth named Skinheads
in the 1960s. Jamaican artistes like Millie Small, Desmond Dekker and Dave
Barker and Ansell Collins, all had hit songs in Britain during that
decade.
That trend continued in the 1970s when singers Junior Murvin and Boothe
entered the national charts with Police and Thieves and Everything I Own,
respectively. But it was the Afro-centric themes of roots-reggae that had
the biggest bearing on budding singers like Hinds and Forde.
They were strongly influenced by Bob Marley and Burning Spear whose music
was distributed by a London company named Island Records. Island would
also help nurture the careers of dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Aswad and
Steel Pulse, who decried the high level of social and racial prejudice in
Britain.
These acts were alternatives to punk rockers like The Clash and Sex
Pistols. Steel Pulse, especially, would become popular in Jamaica
throughout the 1980s, thanks to critically-acclaimed albums like True
Democracy.
Jeremy Marre has been producing films and documentaries since the 1970s.
He has done feature-length projects on Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Phil
Spector.


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