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Old 17th December 2009, 12:37 PM
Rebel Soul Rebel Soul is offline
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Default Are musicians a dying breed in reggae?

Not long after I started lisening to UB40 in the early 80s, I started to become more aware of other contemporary reggae artists. I'd just started learning to play musical instruments and a buzz for me was to see the names of all the musicians who played on albums. It was always about the musicians, it was never really about the lead singer- and I don't mean that in a bad way nor to imply you know what...this holds true for whether I picked up a Marley album as a Gregory one.

Anyway, as I was saying- I liked seeing the different musicians turning up on various recordings....Sly and Robbie's Taxi Gang, The Roots Radics, Skin Flesh & Bones, Dennis Bovell's band, The Upsetters Lloyd Parks and We The People and all the permutations....It seemed like those guys were evolving the music in a very creative and entertaining way...especially the drums...whenever the drums changed, the whole style changed.

Now, I really love some dancehall stuff but what I miss is the MUSICIANSHIP....there's been a resurgence in the past decade and a half but the rise of the dj meant that there was less obvious incentive for people to pick up instruments....

Anyways, I'll shut me gob now, otherwise this message will end up as long and drawn out as one of Garth Crooks' questions on Football Focus.
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Old 17th December 2009, 12:39 PM
Rebel Soul Rebel Soul is offline
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Anyways, I'll shut me gob now, otherwise this message will end up as long and drawn out as one of Garth Crooks' questions on Football Focus.
By the way, when he used to play for Spurs, they had a little article on him in a music paper back in 1981, and he mentioned UB40 and The Selecter as favourite music.
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Old 17th December 2009, 01:19 PM
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Your absolutely right RS. This is something I have been saying for many years, and I think the reason is economic. It started happening in the early 80's. When computers started being used for music. Producers could make a record without using any musicians at all. The eighties were dominated by producers like Steely and Cleevy. From that point on reggae has been made almost exclusively by producers with machines. I'm not knocking it, I loved Steely and Cleevy. But if you don't need musicians to make the music. And live performance would be a singer or rapper singing over a backing track. Then you're not gonna get any new bands [Morgan Heritage and Ziggy are just a couple of exceptions]. There are just too many mouths to feed when dealing with bands.
Add to that the transition from marijuana inspired roots reggae, to cocaine fuelled dance hall. That was the final nail in the coffin of old style reggae bands.
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Old 17th December 2009, 01:29 PM
karenbic karenbic is offline
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I have a 12 year old who was amazed at my photo's of the gig and couldn't believe that it was people with proper instruments as opposed singers with backing tracks like the pop acts she listens to. However she is slowly being educated to listen to my ipod with its reggae and ska library and has even asked to come to a 'proper concert'. not till she's old enough to go on her own don't want her cramping my style!!
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Old 17th December 2009, 04:21 PM
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This is an interesting topic that I wish to just share on

Last monday, I spent the night listening, dancing and singing to Grace Barbe and her band. She is of Creole culture (Seychelles) and sings a combination of afro-Creole, island roots and reggae, which is sung in Creole, English and French. She was the entertainment at a sundowner between the West Indies and Australian cricketers that I went to and she previously has been the support band for UB40 I think in 2005 and played along side many other artists including the Wailers.
At the end of the evening I spoke to her and one of the band members Jamie Searle about live reggae music and her as a female reggae singer as she is a rarity. I do have to add she did sing 4 UB40 songs pretty well enough that I cheered and clapped quite loudly much to the disgrace of the ancient members club but so did the Windies as well !

Anyway she has come a long way in a few short years and our conversation was along the same lines Rebel Soul about "natural music" and especially reggae and in Australia through the surge in migrants and the musical influences its bringing with it, a lot of the new music coming from musicians, and not from the electronics.
I have lots of Maori friends and a lot of our evenings are sat around with someone playing the guitar or two and everyone chilling and singing and often too were sat outside a pub and half the pub are joining in as well.
Maybe I like to hope the musician is not a dying breed in reggae, coz what then!!!
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Old 17th December 2009, 04:41 PM
Rebel Soul Rebel Soul is offline
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Originally Posted by JB40 View Post
Your absolutely right RS. This is something I have been saying for many years, and I think the reason is economic. It started happening in the early 80's. When computers started being used for music. Producers could make a record without using any musicians at all. The eighties were dominated by producers like Steely and Cleevy. From that point on reggae has been made almost exclusively by producers with machines. I'm not knocking it, I loved Steely and Cleevy. But if you don't need musicians to make the music. And live performance would be a singer or rapper singing over a backing track. Then you're not gonna get any new bands [Morgan Heritage and Ziggy are just a couple of exceptions]. There are just too many mouths to feed when dealing with bands.
Add to that the transition from marijuana inspired roots reggae, to cocaine fuelled dance hall. That was the final nail in the coffin of old style reggae bands.
Very true, JB...Morgan Heritage especially were a real exception to the trend. By the mid 80s, Dancehall and sound systems generally began to define the image of reggae in the mainstream. Prior to that, definitely from the Marley period, it was bands that defined the music in the mainstream.

The technology influence probably affected all genres in the 80s and 90s....but there always was a guitar band tradition in the UK (still is), amongst indie bands....so it was less affected.

Fashion and image will play a part too. Young people of a previous era who were into music took people who played instruments as their role models....that was considered 'cool'. In recent times, someone who holds a mic is the symbol of cool. We can't reverse the trend and I think BOTH have their place... but until we have new, younger reggae or reggae oriented bands that are successful, the trend will continue.
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Old 17th December 2009, 04:47 PM
Rebel Soul Rebel Soul is offline
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Originally Posted by karenbic View Post
I have a 12 year old who was amazed at my photo's of the gig and couldn't believe that it was people with proper instruments as opposed singers with backing tracks like the pop acts she listens to. However she is slowly being educated to listen to my ipod with its reggae and ska library and has even asked to come to a 'proper concert'. not till she's old enough to go on her own don't want her cramping my style!!
I know what you mean. So many 'live' performances by current pop singers aren't live at all. To compound things, they're even mimed very badly! But I've found that playing an instrument and singing live is always going to have that 'mystique'....it will always intrigue people, no matter what generation.

You'll have to back down and let your daughter attend a concert with you, lol...my first gig was at 14 years old!
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Old 17th December 2009, 04:55 PM
Rebel Soul Rebel Soul is offline
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Originally Posted by Seagull View Post
This is an interesting topic that I wish to just share on

Last monday, I spent the night listening, dancing and singing to Grace Barbe and her band. She is of Creole culture (Seychelles) and sings a combination of afro-Creole, island roots and reggae, which is sung in Creole, English and French. She was the entertainment at a sundowner between the West Indies and Australian cricketers that I went to and she previously has been the support band for UB40 I think in 2005 and played along side many other artists including the Wailers.
At the end of the evening I spoke to her and one of the band members Jamie Searle about live reggae music and her as a female reggae singer as she is a rarity. I do have to add she did sing 4 UB40 songs pretty well enough that I cheered and clapped quite loudly much to the disgrace of the ancient members club but so did the Windies as well !

Anyway she has come a long way in a few short years and our conversation was along the same lines Rebel Soul about "natural music" and especially reggae and in Australia through the surge in migrants and the musical influences its bringing with it, a lot of the new music coming from musicians, and not from the electronics.
I have lots of Maori friends and a lot of our evenings are sat around with someone playing the guitar or two and everyone chilling and singing and often too were sat outside a pub and half the pub are joining in as well.
Maybe I like to hope the musician is not a dying breed in reggae, coz what then!!!
That was a good read, Seagull. I have noticed that the reggae band tradition is much stronger outside of the UK. Yes, there are musicians here but a lot of times their work is doing sessions ABROAD and if they're doing stuff here, they're more likely to be on the club band/cabaret scene, rather than aiming for success as contemporary original artists.

Considering all the great reggae that's been produced in these shores, it's a shame.
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Old 17th December 2009, 04:57 PM
steven creamer steven creamer is offline
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I have to in some ways agree with you JB, but in others disagree. Music is all relevent, its an art wouldnt you say? Im not happy with all of the "Sampling" that goes on and agree that its putting many musicians out of work. But, everything comes in full circle. You will never get a computer to play with the feeling of Brian or Dean Fraser. Music will always have something a computer can never do and that is play with soul. There are many riddim tracks out there and I have heard whole albums played on just one riddim, the vocals are all different. Electronics can help enhance music, but I dare say that there is nothing like a live concert, with live musicians. I do not like to hear DJ's come out and sing to tracks, Karaoke is not my thing. UB40 does it right. You guys are "old school" with a new school approach. Happy Christmas guys and to all of your families also.

Stevie 2fingerz

P.S. Back to work and feeling stronger every day.
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Old 17th December 2009, 05:06 PM
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THE END IS NIGH.....Do young people who are into creating music play instruments anymore ? There really is no computer software substitute for the human mind and how it makes music...After all serendipity is one of our greatest assets...the occurance of fortunate mistakes,so many times when writing freehand slip ups can turn an arrangement around, its in the repetition to get a song right that you really find its character and hidden gems, something that cant happen with programmed samples (they have already been written)...Added to that some music theory is essential to help get that sound out of your head and into the ears of the listener and make them hear it the same way the musician can and still keep it individual and fresh....There are many brilliant musical theoretical devices ,100's of years in development, the same ones used by Beethoven, Mozart, The Stones, Bob Marley, UB40 etc etc that can turn a riff into an overture, that can make a plain phrase become glorious....and lets not forget about SOUL...that bit that only comes from the musician and his/her passion for the piece being performed, ONLY they can give the music soul...theres no soul/feeling algorithm on LOGIC PRO or PRO TOOLS...Im sure the next punk revolution in music will be all about back to basics, playing live, generating the notes in your soul and delivering them via the instrument...Theres some great music about BUT im not hearing a lot of passion or feeling, Im searching but all I'm hearing on commercial radio is hype'n'beats'n'rhyme'n'samples'n'attitude'n'pontif ication'n'cliche....Maybe music made by humans has had its day, its getting tougher to get it made as no one wants to pay for their records anymore and humans have to eat and pay bills.....Maybe its time to let the machines just do it for us....
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