The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

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The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby Blindman » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:51 pm

Greetings B&F

First and foremost i need to say that i´m pretty new into reggae and especially the uk scene, so my questions might seem a little bit stupid for a lot of you, but i really hope you can bear with my lack of knowledge...

I would really like to know more about the uk sound system culture. I´ve red about the jamaican counterpart, but i still really don´t understand a lot of things about the uk side of it. How does it seperates from the jamaican sound system culture? Is there a difference between the music uk and jamaican sounds plays in their dances? Do most uk sounds mostly play uk productions and if yes, how does it seperate from jamaican reggae in sound and approach? If they do of course. Are there any uk artists/groups/producers who are essentiel to know? I know Aswad, but they are more a "band" than a part of the sound system culture, right?
Are there any documentarys or books that can give me some insight?

Again, i hope my questions are not too stupid, and i hope some of you would take the time to point me in the right direction. I´m really fascinated about the things i´ve heard from the uk and the impressions i´ve gotten from friends and others who know more about it, make me feel that i´m on the verge of meeting a really good friend, so i hope you´ll will help me!

Thanks in advance.
Love
Blindman
 


Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby pinup » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:28 pm

I second the Musically Mad DVD, it's a very good watch.

Rather than searching for individual singers/groups you might find it easier to look at different sound systems. Some names to get you started:

Jah Shaka
Channel One Sound System
Aba Shanti - I
Iration Steppas
Kibir La Amlak
Fatman Sound
Jah Tubbys
King Earthquake

Check these websites as well
http://www.soundtapes.do-goo.com/
http://www.talawa.fr/

There's a lot of information available out there, enjoy your searching.
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby kalcidis » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:06 pm

The difficult aspect of explaining the difference between sounds is that there are a lot of things to take into account. The UK sound systems of the 60's played very differently from the ones in the 70's, and the 70's sound from the 80's sounds and etc. Also I would say that most sounds up to at least the late 80's were highly influenced by the JA side of the scene and would try to play as the JA sounds and have a lot of yard dubplates/selections. JA was still the foundation and where most people looked for inspiration through the circulation of sound tapes. Still every selector would (or at least try to) have their own unique style which of course would differentiate many/most of the UK sounds between each other.

I'm in no way an expert and would like to think that there are several board members that not only have a profound knowledge of this and also were visiting the sessions! However I would like to think that the earliest unique aspect of UK sound systems that had some influence in JA was the birth of the lovers rock genre and the playing of it. Sugar Minott did some lovers rock recordings in the UK and released them on his Black Roots imprint in JA in the very early 80's. There are some Jah Love Muzik tapes from this time where you can hear some of these UK styled lovers rhythms (mainly with Sugar Minott on them). The next big influence (and this one was a real trendsetter in both UK and JA) was the birth of the fast chat style in '82 which penetrated JA in '84 with the release of Papa Levi's seminal »Mi God Mi King«. This is perhaps the first time JA was truly inspired by the UK (and likely foremost the Saxon deejays who took the style to heart). This has to do more with the deejays on the sound than the actual selecting though.

The evolution of the UK stepper sound systems I would like to think is when the UK style first started having a style of their own that could be defined as a specific UK vibe. This was a change that started in the 70's and would really reach its stylistic pinnacle in the mid to late 80's and onward with a lot of locally produced music playing a larger part of the selections (but also JA releases that fitted the vibe). It would be mainly minor chord productions while in JA a lot of sounds were playing minor, major and everything inbetween.

Some of the heaviest UK sounds that in retrospect probably are regarded as roots sounds also played a nice and big portion of lovers rock. I'm thinking of Coxsone Outernational, Soferno B and a lot of the others who also released a lot of lovers rock on their own imprints. Several other sounds could probably be regarded as primarily lovers rock sounds even. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot less info on these compared to the roots/dancehall sounds of the same periods -- the 70's to mid 80's. I'm do not know how the lovers rock scene evolved after and what role it continued to play in the sound system scene from the mid 80's and forward. Would very much enjoy info on this if anyone here knows.

But the best thing would probably to start checking sound tapes. It probably won't be as apparent in the beginning but after having heard different sounds and eras from both JA/UK you'd probably start to get your own idea of the differences. After a while you can almost certain if it's a UK sound from the way they played and the entertainers chatted/sung on the microphone. But it would be difficult, at least for me, to pinpoint all the details that gives it away.
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby Danai » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:07 pm

documentary entitled "sound business" (1981) is well worth checking out......it's linked on the tube

the movie Babylon although dramatised also presents an accurate picture of foundation uk sound system runnings
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby kalcidis » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:21 pm

Can't someone locate the Sound Business producers and try to get it released properly on DVD?
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby Danai » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:33 pm

kalcidis wrote:Can't someone locate the Sound Business producers and try to get it released properly on DVD?


if only, if only....wasn't it a post-grad student project type of thing; some real exclusive footage them guys film, in paricular, probably the only footage of the most legendary uk session...'80 Gold Cup dance - you only get to see about 20s secs in the doc but you would think they must have filmed a whole heap more of this and the other sessions that are also seen in the doc . The footage of the big sounds stringing up at Brixton town hall just throws me back everytime - yes this documentary really captures the late'70's/early '80's signature of top ranking uk soundsystems.
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby Danai » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:02 pm

kalcidis wrote:The difficult aspect of explaining the difference between sounds is that there are a lot of things to take into account. The UK sound systems of the 60's played very differently from the ones in the 70's, and the 70's sound from the 80's sounds and etc. Also I would say that most sounds up to at least the late 80's were highly influenced by the JA side of the scene and would try to play as the JA sounds and have a lot of yard dubplates/selections. JA was still the foundation and where most people looked for inspiration through the circulation of sound tapes. Still every selector would (or at least try to) have their own unique style which of course would differentiate many/most of the UK sounds between each other.

I'm in no way an expert and would like to think that there are several board members that not only have a profound knowledge of this and also were visiting the sessions! However I would like to think that the earliest unique aspect of UK sound systems that had some influence in JA was the birth of the lovers rock genre and the playing of it. Sugar Minott did some lovers rock recordings in the UK and released them on his Black Roots imprint in JA in the very early 80's. There are some Jah Love Muzik tapes from this time where you can hear some of these UK styled lovers rhythms (mainly with Sugar Minott on them). The next big influence (and this one was a real trendsetter in both UK and JA) was the birth of the fast chat style in '82 which penetrated JA in '84 with the release of Papa Levi's seminal »Mi God Mi King«. This is perhaps the first time JA was truly inspired by the UK (and likely foremost the Saxon deejays who took the style to heart). This has to do more with the deejays on the sound than the actual selecting though.

The evolution of the UK stepper sound systems I would like to think is when the UK style first started having a style of their own that could be defined as a specific UK vibe. This was a change that started in the 70's and would really reach its stylistic pinnacle in the mid to late 80's and onward with a lot of locally produced music playing a larger part of the selections (but also JA releases that fitted the vibe). It would be mainly minor chord productions while in JA a lot of sounds were playing minor, major and everything inbetween.

Some of the heaviest UK sounds that in retrospect probably are regarded as roots sounds also played a nice and big portion of lovers rock. I'm thinking of Coxsone Outernational, Soferno B and a lot of the others who also released a lot of lovers rock on their own imprints. Several other sounds could probably be regarded as primarily lovers rock sounds even. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot less info on these compared to the roots/dancehall sounds of the same periods -- the 70's to mid 80's. I'm do not know how the lovers rock scene evolved after and what role it continued to play in the sound system scene from the mid 80's and forward. Would very much enjoy info on this if anyone here knows.

But the best thing would probably to start checking sound tapes. It probably won't be as apparent in the beginning but after having heard different sounds and eras from both JA/UK you'd probably start to get your own idea of the differences. After a while you can almost certain if it's a UK sound from the way they played and the entertainers chatted/sung on the microphone. But it would be difficult, at least for me, to pinpoint all the details that gives it away.


Initially read the above post and just kind of took it for granted that this kind of info is freely shared round here......nice (and accurate) overview kalcidis; respect due!!!
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby kalcidis » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:20 pm

Thanks. :) I would however like to correct myself and say that the lovers rock genre was the first unique UK reggae sound system style that was originated in the UK, pre-dating the typical stepper sounds (that too often seem to be seen as the alpha and omega of sound systems).
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby Reggaemusicstore » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:48 pm

kalcidis wrote:
The evolution of the UK stepper sound systems I would like to think is when the UK style first started having a style of their own that could be defined as a specific UK vibe. This was a change that started in the 70's and would really reach its stylistic pinnacle in the mid to late 80's and onward with a lot of locally produced music playing a larger part of the selections (but also JA releases that fitted the vibe). It would be mainly minor chord productions while in JA a lot of sounds were playing minor, major and everything inbetween.

Some of the heaviest UK sounds that in retrospect probably are regarded as roots sounds also played a nice and big portion of lovers rock. I'm thinking of Coxsone Outernational, Soferno B and a lot of the others who also released a lot of lovers rock on their own imprints. Several other sounds could probably be regarded as primarily lovers rock sounds even. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot less info on these compared to the roots/dancehall sounds of the same periods -- the 70's to mid 80's. I'm do not know how the lovers rock scene evolved after and what role it continued to play in the sound system scene from the mid 80's and forward. Would very much enjoy info on this if anyone here knows.



Re the "uk stepper sound systems" starting in the 70's, the only sound who really specialised in that style was Jah Shaka, and at that point in time the majority of the music he played came from JA. There were certainly lots of other sounds who played that style as part of their set ie Sir Coxsone, Fatman, Quaker City, Jah Tubbys etc but they also went into a broader range of styles which Shaka didn't. I'd say it wasn't really till the late 1980's that you started to see more sounds setting up in England who specialised in the UK roots style, and even then there wasn't really enough music being made in England to specialise in it so really it was from the 90's onwards when it took off in a big way as by that time the uk digital scene was expanding in a big way and more sounds were starting up like Iration Steppas and Aba Shanti I

For a newcomer like Blindman's education I think it'd be fair to say that most of the current crop of UK roots/dub/steppers sounds took their influence from Jah Shaka and the scene gradually evolved from featuring a lot of JA music to having more and more UK music. The people who went on to create their own brands of UK dub were heavily influenced by Shaka more than any other sound system cos he always played the heaviest most militant style of reggae which gradually began to appeal to a wider audience. Ultimately this UK influence then spread to Europe and around the world with a lot of new producers in different countries taking their influence from the UK scene.

As for lovers rock, although it still gets made in a little way nowadays, its days as a musical force seem to be long over now, with its heyday being in the 1980's. It was big and popular amongst a part of the UK reggae audience at one time, but for whatever reason, those days are more or less gone for good now - maybe because most of the young black UK audience it was aimed at no longer regard reggae as their music of choice nowadays. ...
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Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby Blindman » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:09 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer and for your great replies! Really interesting reading!
I know it is some big questions i´ve asked and they´re hard to answer without writing a whole novel, so i really appreciate your answers and recommendations!

Can somebody please recommend some soundtapes? Are soundtapes btw only homemade recordings or does there exist some official releases which are possible to find/buy somewhere? Does there exist any classics/must hears? I didn´t know the websites Pinup linked, so i´m still surfing around right now, but most of the sessions i´ve found yet are in really bad soundquality so i think it´s slightly hard to distinguish the tunes from each other and enjoy the music when you barely can hear the music.

Unfortunately i live in a country which doesn´t have the most lively roots sound system scene, so i´ve never experienced a sound system session with a real sound with boxes, but i definatly am planning to visit University of Dub next time i´m in London. I´ve gotten the impression that it probably would be the best introduction i could get to the UK scene.

But again, thank you for your answers!
Love
Blindman
 

Re: The uk sound system culture, documentary´s, books?

Postby brigadierjc » Thu May 02, 2013 8:08 am

Hi Blindman
If you go to Uni of Dub you'll be able to buy all the recordings (in pretty good quality) of the past dances.
There's alos a lot of stuff on Talawa.fr but the quality differs depending on the recording.
But hey it's free!
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