Saturday, 23 December 2017

DJ Ridym - Reggae Rockers 11 Skinhead Reggae

Skinhead, a term sadly associated these days with Extremism, violence and racism is as far from the true origins of the Skinhead than you could imagine.

In Jamaica during the 60's reggae consisted of Ska, Bluebeat and Rocksteady played by popular sound systems at venues and dances where gangs of 'Rudies' would also meet to settle disputes. 'Rude Boy' was a moniker given to urban lawless youths who would typically dress in sharp suits skinny ties and tribly hats notorious for breaking up dances and causing trouble in the 60's.

With the migration of imigrants from the caribbean islands to Britain came the music and the culture that was quickly adopted by the white working class youth around the early 60's and 70's. At the time a popular group called the Mods had divided into two separate class factions one of which was the Skinhead. They adopted a harder look and would typically dress in checkered working mans shirts with red braces tight fitted jeans and of course the trade mark Doctor Martins (DM's) boots.
White Skinhead groups united with black Rudeboys both brought together through the common love of the ska and rocksteady tunes that were being purchased in high volumes both home and abroad increasing the popularity of artists like Prince Buster, Desmond Decker, Toots and Symarip. Jamaican artists were regularly queing up to perform at popular British venues and it wasn't going to be long before a new wave of British born artists and groups would join them.
Artists like Judge Dread who was English, white and from a working class background who grew up listening to reggae music had developed his own comical style of explicit lyrics which became very popular but often banned from being played by the BBC and most radio stations at the time. Judge became the first white recording artist to have a reggae number one hit in Jamaica which is some achievement even to this day.

During the late 70's came the arrival of British bands The Selecter, The Specials, Madness, Bad Manners, UB40 and The Beat. This revival of ska and rocksteady grew a new name and sound called 2Tone.
2Tone by definition was the merging of black and white both the music and people but also during this time racist parties in Britain had began to adopt the Skinhead for its own militia wing and therein would begin the divide. Often rogue pockets of Skinheads would disrupt concerts and artists were having to stop their performances until the gangs were removed or calmed down. Artists began to disassociate themselves with the Skinheads and as a result the non racist element changed their style to a more softer smarter look opting to trade their DM's for loafers and jeans for sta-prest trousers and crombie jackets similar in look to the early rudeboy image.

The image of the skinhead had changed forever.

'This is England' is a British movie drama and a TV series directed and written by Shane Meadows which follows a group of young Skinheads from the early 80's to the 90's which essentially covers everything I've discussed here in the blog. I highly recommend watching it if you have an interest in this sub-genre. It definitely ticks the boxes for me in highlighting the social issues and relationships during that time.

Until next time keep the faith!

1. Symarip - Skinhead Moonstomp
2. Toots & The Maytals - 54-46 Was My Number
3. Claudette - Queen Of The World
4. Dandy Livingston - Rudy A Message To You
5. Tony Tribe - Red Red Wine
6. Phyllis Dillon - Eddie Oh Baby
7. Desmond Decker - Shanty Town
8. Toots & The Maytals - Monkey Man
9. The Ethioians - Train To Skaville
10. Prince Buster - One Step Beyond
11. Alton Ellis - Dance Crasher

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