I Am The Gorgon ~ Bunny 'Striker' Lee & The Roots Of Reggae
December 29, 2014
|Format||DVD - Region Free|
|Length||85 minutes (approx.) + 30 minutes bonus footage|
These are the kinda things Reggae music needs!! Professional documentaries made by Reggae people, presented in a 'Deluxe' format!!
The first truly excellent Reggae documentary was Jeremy Marre's "Roots Rock Reggae", which came out in 1977 and was re-issued on DVD by Shanachie in 2001. That documentary captured Kingston and Reggae music right in the heart of the then flourishing Roots Reggae movement. Next came the outstanding "Word, Sound & Power" from 1980 (out on DVD in 2005) about Reggae and the Soul Syndicate band. In 1982 it was followed by the six part Channel Four TV series "Deep Roots Music" (made available on on three DVDs in 2008), and then, for whatever reason, nothing really interesting happened until 2002. In that year the good people at London-based Soul Jazz Records put out the outstanding "Studio One Story", an approx. 240 minutes lasting documentary on DVD, nicely presented in a digipak that also featured a CD and a 90 page booklet. After that a few other documentaries were released including "Dub Echoes", "Carrying The Swing", "Musically Mad", but although they were worth watching, they didn't make the same serious impression as the aforementioned ones.
And now, after a very long wait, another essential Reggae documentary has hit the streets. "I Am The Gorgon", directed by musician and filmmaker Diggory Kenrick and narrated by legendary deejay Dennis Alcapone, tells the story of legendary Jamaican record producer Edward O'Sullivan aka Bunny 'Striker' Lee, the man who produced more hits than you can shake a stick at. In about 90 minutes, this very entertaining and meanwhile also educating documentary charts Bunny Lee's rise from car mechanic and record plugger to Reggae's most successful record producer in the 1970's. It shows the man as a great storyteller, while all the Jamaican artists, musicians and fellow producers - and these are almost too many to mention - that have been interviewed do him proud.
Bunny 'Striker' Lee was around during various eras in Reggae history. Derrick Morgan introduced him to the music business in the early 1960's, when he took him to producer/sound system operator Duke Reid, who gave him a job as a record plugger for his Treasure Isle label. In 1967, during the Rocksteady era, he produced Lloyd & The Grooves' "Listen To The Music", but scored his first hit later that year with Roy Shirley's "Music Field". During 1967-68 he enjoyed hits with a.o. Derrick Morgan's "Hold You Jack", Slim Smith & The Uniques' "My Conversation" (its riddim led to the release of the very first 'one riddim' LP, "Yamaha Skank") and Stranger Cole's "Bangarang". By 1969 he was the leading hitmaker in Jamaica and during the following four years he continued to score hits with Slim Smith's "Everybody Needs Love", Pat Kelly's "How Long", Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come", Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby" and John Holt's "Stick By Me", to name only five. By 1974 he was successfully producing Johnny Clarke, while 1975 saw Cornell Campbell release a series of strong-selling Bunny 'Striker' Lee produced tunes, beginning with "The Gorgon". During the period 1969-1977, he produced literally thousands of tracks - vocals, deejay records and dubs - with a wide range of artists. Up to the early 1980's he continued doing production work, although there was a reduction in output. In 1985, Wayne Smith's "Sleng Teng" kick-started the digital phase of Reggae. Although he did a few recordings in the new style, the computer-generated riddims and the upcoming of 'gun talk' and 'slackness' didn't appeal to Bunny 'Striker' Lee at all and he decided to focus on his back catalogue.
Besides the things that are commonly known, Bunny 'Striker' Lee reveals things that only very few people may know. There's the 'flyers' style, Santa Davis' 'flying cymbal' sound, named after the wings of a chicken as he got loads of Kentucky Fried Chicken for the musicians at the session. When Bob Marley was crossing over to a huge wide audience, Bunny 'Striker' Lee decided to put out an album named 'Bob Morley & The Railing Railers", but he had to destroy all the copies of the LP. And then there's the creation of Dub music at King Tubby's, using the simple 'spring reverb', the hi-pass filter nicknamed 'squawky' on the Atlantic board, and the echos from the four-track tape machine.
The package not only contains the DVD, but there's also the 22 track original movie soundtrack CD (featuring the exclusive 'special' for this release: Bunny 'Striker' Lee All Stars' "Revenge Of The Flying Cymbals") and a 32 page full colour booklet.
This "I Am The Gorgon" DVD package, plus the 2012 published book "Reggae Gone International 1969-1976 - The Bunny Striker Lee Story", is essential and needs to be part of any self-respecting Reggae aficionado's collection.
Both can be purchased at the Muzik Tree website.