Deep Roots Music 3
May 18, 2008

Label MVDVisual / Screen Edge
Format DVD - Region Free
Languages Patois / English
Subtitles None
Length 100 minutes (approx.)
Producer/Director Howard Johnson
In late 1982 the UK based company Channel 4 TV broadcasted the Deep Roots Music series, a total of six episodes, exploring the extraordinary origins of reggae. From the music of the slaves which were brought in from Africa to the soundsystem days of the early 1980s, it's all here. It unlocks the lost music of the Maroons and of plantation society, and it traces a line from the buru-men and obeah-men through to the dancehall days of the early 1980s. The excellent narrator is artist, producer and radio host Mikey 'At The Controls' Dread. He actually performs a little toast here and there! His poetical style of narration matches the content perfectly and shows his engagement. The series was produced in 1981 by Howard Johnson and Mike Wallington (Executive producer). Special assistants were Rasta preacher Pepe Judah and Leggo Beast.

This DVD contains the last two episodes: 'Money in my Pocket' and 'Ghetto Riddims'. 'Money in my Pocket' starts with the 1981 "One Love Peace Concert", where Bob Marley unites for a moment the two political opponents of that time, Michael Manley and Edward Seaga. This episode analyzes the connection in Jamaica between politics, commerce and music. We can hear and see an interview with Edward Seaga reflecting on his early work as Reggae producer, Harry J talking about Marley, Marcia Griffiths chanting her killer "Stepping out a Babylon" with the Wailers , Sonia Pottinger talking about Rasta, religion and Marcia Griffiths, parts of a "Colgate" sponsored radio show. Main focus of this episode is on the Crown Prince of Reggae, the great Dennis Emmanuel Brown wit a superb audition in the studio recording "Have You Ever". If somebody out there have any doubts what a great singer he was, listen and look! Dennis talking about his career, Studio One and his influences. Definitely - this brings back a lot of memories and so let's go to the next episode.

The second and final episode "Ghetto Riddims" focuses on the yard as Mikey Dread says. The episode starts showing Charlie Ace's fantastic Swing-A-Ling van driving around selling records and playing music in the ghetto. "Politics is a fantasy, reggae is the Kings music" is one of the statements we can hear during an interview with some Rastafarians before you can hear them singing a tuned named "Fear" in the studio, followed by an exquisite footage of the Mighty Diamonds. It is Channel one time and fortunately enough we can see the "Mighty Diamonds". Pretty long time of this episode spotlights the street-corner audition sessions held by the late great "Jack Ruby". Ruby sets up a chair by the side of the road in the ghetto, a small crowd of men stands by and performer after performer steps up. This is like an open air version of the now in some countries so popular TV shows. Talent after talent, some sweet harmonies to the riddim of a single acoustic guitar, great!

Too bad the DVD comes without subtitles. In some cases it's hardly possible to understand what's been said. The quality of the picture is sometimes poor, never brilliant, but the content is brilliant. So if you're interested in reggae music, its origins and development you should get this DVD! It's an essential historical document.