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A complete map of Reggae: the Caribbean beat's journey through the Diaspora, plus the "Black Mozart".

Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. by Lloyd Bradley, with photographs by Dennis Morris, BBC Books, February 2004 $19.95, ISBN 0-563-48807-7

Lloyd Bradley does such a good job of breaking down reggae music in his tightly written work that it ought to be called "Reggae for Dummies."

Bradley, who was born in London to Jamaican parents, explores the many different genres that fall under the banner of reggae music Ska, dub, dancehall, rock steady and other inspired forms are explained in terms that are both entertaining and instructional

Add the photography of Dennis Morris to the mix and the book becomes an instant classic. Many of the pictures are from the BBC TV series of the same name, originally broadcast in 2002 to worldwide acclaim.

All of the big names are here: Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Jimmy Cliff. Bradley digs deeper in reggae's history and uncovers ska pioneers like Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, Lester Sterling, John Dizzy Moore, and many others. Come up with the name of any reggae artist and they are probably mentioned in this book.

The sociopolitical connections between reggae and the times are also profiled in the book. Bradley shows how future Prime Minister Edward Seaga decided that ska would be the official dance at the Jamaican Pavilion at the New York's World Fair in 1964. The author extends the sociopolitical theme by thoroughly exploring Bob Marley's contributions. He then brings it to present limes with people like Buju Banton, Capleton and Luciano. In the chapter "Where Next?," Bradley takes a glimpse at the future of reggae music by giving a preview of up-and-coming artists like T.O.K and female dj and singer Ce' Cile.

The only complaint about the book is that several of the pictures are unaccompanied with a caption. With these particular photos you have to look at the tiny printing on the side to see who the person is. That, however, is a small price to pay for a treasure.

Anthony C. Davis is a writer in Philadelphia.
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:"Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music"
Author:Davis, Anthony C.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2004
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