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Paperback The Rough Guide to Reggae Book

ISBN: 1843533294

ISBN13: 9781843533290

The Rough Guide to Reggae

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

The Rough Guide to Reggae is the only book of its kind available. The first two editions of the Rough Guide to Reggae were the top-selling books on the subject, and widely acclaimed by the music press and fans alike. Illustrated throughout with over 400 pictures, many of them exclusive photos, the book also features exclusive interviews with reggae's top stars, and reviews over 500 albums. 2003 and 2004 have been the most successful years for reggae...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

very helpful reference & buyers guide

My parents raised me on roots, but when I wanted to broaden my DUB collection, one of the resources I turned to was the Rough Guide. Rough Guide is a great go-to reference for the history of different reggae sub-genres and makes a solid buying guide. I've not regretted any music purchases I've made using information from this book. It really helped steer me toward the kinds of music I enjoy and away from things I don't like quite so much, but it also suggested successful adventures I might never have tried otherwise.


Jamaica's incredibly prolific musical output (more than one hundred thousand different records over the last fifty years) is a phenomenon totally out of proportion to the island's small size, its 2 million strong population and modest wealth. Equally significant is the huge influence of reggae music on everything from punk to hip hop to today's rave and dj culture. So if you're looking for a reggae primer that really explains what it's all about, this is the book you need. Authors Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton possess an unrivalled knowledge of Jamaica's rich musical heritage and if you've ever bought any of the superbly remastered and repackaged reissue cds from Barrow's Blood & Fire label, you'll find the same care, attention to detail and love of the music in the pages of the Rough Guide. The book chronicles the entire history of Jamaican music chapter by chapter, from the earliest beginnings to the sounds being made today; explaining when, how and why each new style developed, who made it happen and the background of continuing social change in Jamaica itself, which has always played a part in shaping the music. There are also excellent accounts of the evolution of reggae in the UK, the USA and Africa. In each chapter the main text is supplemented by profiles of the major singers, groups, dj's, musicians, producers, engineers, studios and promoters who came to the fore in that particular era, which often include interviews with the artists themselves. The accompanying discographies are well researched and can reliably be used to add to your record collection. There are over a thousand featured albums in the book, each of which is concisely reviewed, and although there's no rating system as such, the most important releases are highlighted as being essential for a particular artist or style. Such ratings are inevitably subjective, but if you follow these recommendations you won't go far wrong. The Rough Guide is also well illustrated throughout with photographs and album artwork, and overall the book is as comprehensive and accurate as it can be while remaining reasonably concise. I don't generally spend much time wading through books about music because theory (ie reading about it) is invariably much less enjoyable and informative than practice (ie listening to it), but I've found this one to be consistently useful. If you have a few dollars more to spare I'd recommend that you also buy the wonderful 4 CD set "Tougher than tough: the story of Jamaican music", so you can read and listen in parallel; and if you'd like to dig deeper into the subject try the excellent "Bass culture: when reggae was king" by Lloyd Bradley. But the Rough Guide should definitely be your first book about reggae music and will probably be the only one you'll ever need.

Great Reference work by a very knowledgeable source

If you're looking for a quick and easy read on the history of Reggae, this probably isn't the place to start. If you're looking for a reference work to help you flesh out your reggae collection, this is the book for you. Steve Barrow might well be the most knowledgeable person writing about Reggae today. Since buying this book I've personally dropped a couple a grand on Reggae CDs, mainly on recommendations in this book or the Virgin Reggae guide. Overall, I'd say about 90%+ were worth my money. In this respect, the book has been invaluable to me. If you're a true fan of Reggae, it will be invaluable to you too.Some of the criticisms leveled by other reviewers on this site are a result of unfair or misguided expectations. They are apparently disappointed that the book isn't an easy read, or an oral history of some sort. I think the best way to approach this book is to start with a particular style of Reggae that you're interested in (i.e., Roots, Ska, etc.) and dig in. Get some on the recommended CDs, and enjoy! Then move on to another chapter if you are so inclined. One last plug for the author: Steve Barrow is the co-owner of Blood & Fire, currently Reggae's best reissue label. Buy everything you can get your hands with the B & F logo! - the stuff is worth its weight in ganja.

Excellent Resource

I enjoyed this book very much. If you have this, "Reggae Bloodlines" and "Catch a Fire," you have quite a comprehensive overview of the reggae phenomenon. "Reggae: The Rough Guide" is an indispensable World Music book, along with such must-have volumes as "The Brazilian Sound" and "World Music: The Rough Guide."
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