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Encyclopedia > Caribbean music in the United Kingdom

Jamaican music in the United Kingdom

Contents


White Reggae

White reggae has very low artistic credibility, but it laid a path for genuine reggae in Britain. Chris Andrews (b 1942) was a writer of songs for Sandie Shaw. "Yesterday Man" was inappropriate for her so he sang it himself. It went to number 3 in the British singles charts in 1965. At the time it was called "Bluebeat" but we would now recognise it as reggae. He followed this with "To Whom It Concerns" (no 13 in 1965) and "Something On My Mind" (no 41 in 1966). Paul McCartney bought Jamaican imported singles, but this was not obvious in the Beatles repertoire until "O-bla-di O-bla-da" on the White Album. Some of his later solo singles show a gentle reggae beat. Unfortunately, "Another Day" and "Silly Love Songs" are now counted among his feeblest ephemeral songs. The first British number one album to contain several reggae songs was Peter Frampton's "Frampton Comes Alive" in 1976. Also in the mid-70s art-rockers "Ten CC" released a few reggae singles, including "Dreadlocks Holiday" and "I Don't Like Cricket". The Police's first reggae single was "Roxanne", followed by "Don't Stand So Close to Me", "Walking on the Moon" and others. Sting's fake Jamaican accent caused music critics to cringe, but the band was undoubtedly commercially successful. Blondie's "The Tide is High" was perhaps the first credible white reggae hit in Britain.


Music from Trinidad

Large-scale Caribbean migration to England began in 1948. "Windrush" carried almost 500 passengers from Jamaica, including "Lord Kitchener" a calypso singer from Trinidad. By chance a local newsreel company filmed him singing "London Is The Place For Me" as he got off the ship. In 2002 "London Is The Place For Me: Trinidadian Calypso, 1950-1956" was finally released in Britain. The 1951 Festival of Britain brought the "Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra" (TAPSO), and "Roaring Lion" to public attention. The smart set in Oxford and Cambridge adopted both calypso and steelband for debutante parties. In 1959 Trinidadian Claudia Jones started the Notting Hill Carnival. They brought Mighty Sparrow and others directly from Trinidad. Over the years, Jamaican reggae took over. Edric Connor had arrived in England from Trinidad in 1944. He starred in a West End musical called "Calypso" in 1948. A Dutch white duo, Nina and Frederick, recorded several calypsos from 1958 to 1962, scoring in the charts. Cy Grant (from Guyana) sang a song by Lord Kitchener on a TV drama called "A Man From the Sun" in 1956. It told the story of Caribbean migrants. From 1957 to 1960 Cy sang calypsos on the BBC TV news program "Tonight". In 1962 white comedian Bernard Cribbens had a hit with "Gossip Calypso".


The Genuine Article

Cecil Bustamante Campbell (Prince Buster) was born in 1938 in Orange Street, Kingston, Jamaica. In 1961 he signed to Blue Beat records. The single "Madness" first appeared in 1963. Eight years later "mods" and "skinheads" danced to Prince Buster and other ska records in youth clubs. In 1979 a white band called Madness signed to the 2-Tone label. Their debut release was "The Prince", a homage to the artist who gave them their name. 1962 was a key year. It was the year of Jamaican independence, and the year "Island Records" was founded. One of their music producers, white Jamaican Chris Blackwell, brought Millie Small to Britain in 1963. Her high-pitched, slightly nasal voice stuck had wide appeal with "My Boy Lollipop", which reached number 2 in the UK and the USA in 1965. However it was perceived as a novelty pop song, not the start of a boom in ska. It was not until 1969 that reggae artists began to receive significant air play. Dave and Ansell Collins, Ken Boothe and John Holt had hits. The first Jamaican performers to reach number one in Britain were Desmond Dekker and the Aces with "Israelites" in 1969. The second act was "Althea and Donna" with "Up Town, Top Ranking" in 1977. Bob Marley came from Jamaica to London and recorded "Catch a Fire" in 1972. Posters of Marley, with a large roll-up, appeared on student bedrooms. Eddy Grant was born in Guyana in 1948 and grew up in Brixton. He took Carribean music further in the director of rock than anyone else. He was part of the first multi-racial group to reach number one in the UK, "The Equals" with "Baby come Back" in 1968. His studio in the Barbados has been used by Sting, Elvis Costello and others. His gritty voice took "Electric Avenue" (a tribute to the street in Brixton where the first electric street lights were erected) to the top ten. Cecil Bustamente Campbell (born May 28, 1938), better known as Prince Buster, is a musician from Kingston, Jamaica and regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska music. ... Desmond Dekker performing his hit song Israelites at the Wembley Arena in 1969 Desmond Dekker (born Desmond Adolphus Dacres in Kingston, Jamaica on July 16, 1941) is a ska and reggae singer and songwriter. ... Bob Marley Robert Nesta Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981 ) better known as Bob Marley, was a Jamaican singer, guitarist, and songwriter. ... Eddy Grant is a singer, who first made his name in the 1970s as lead singer of The Equals. ...


Trojan and 2-Tone

Trojan was founded in 1967, named after producer Duke Reid, known as The Trojan. It brought Jamaican recordings to Britain. Their first hit was Jimmy Cliff's "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" in 1969. They had 28 other hits. 2-Tone was founded in 1979. While most of the developments in the music took place in Jamaica (dub, toasting, dancehall, ragga) there was one form that was born in Britain. "Lovers rock" was a smooth, soulful version of reggae, spearheaded by Dennis Brown. From this point there as so many bands that it is difficult to present a balanced picture. Jimmy Cliff, real name James Chambers (born April 1, 1948) is a Jamaican reggae musician, best known among mainstream audiences for songs like Many Rivers to Cross from The Harder They Come, a film soundtrack which helped break reggae into markets across the world. ... Dennis Emmanuel Brown (February 1, 1957 – July 1, 1999) was a Jamaican reggae singer. ...


White Ska

White ska generally has a grittier sound than white reggae. Significant groups were The Selecter, The Specials, The Beat (known in the USA as The English Beat) and Bad Manners. Perhaps surprisingly, there is a following for white ska in Russian rock. Rock and roll became known in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and quickly broke free from its western roots. ...


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The United Kingdom is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and its ancillary bodies of water- the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and the Irish Sea.
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The flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Flag (commonly known as the "Union Jack").
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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (usually shortened to the United Kingdom or the UK) is a country (or more specifically a constitutional monarchy or unitary state) off the north-western coast of continental Europe, surrounded by the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The United Kingdom is the union of the Kingdom of England (which includes the principality of Wales) with the Kingdom of Scotland and later the Kingdom of Ireland to form a single state.
Also sometimes associated with the United Kingdom, though not constitutionally part of the United Kingdom itself, are the Crown dependencies (the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man) as self-governing possessions of the Crown, and a number of overseas territories under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
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