Garnet Silk Returns to Zion
by Howard Campbell
Before we proceed, let’s get one thing straight, Garnet Silk was no Bob Marley. He didn’t profess to be Bob Marley, nor did he want to be. Despite the obvious similarities in religion and profession, the two possessed entirely different personalities.
The inevitable comparisons that have been made since Garnet burst onto the scene three years ago have been further fueled since his death a few months ago. Such a flattering likeness is evidence of the social impact the 28-year-old singer made in such a short period. In fact, he created a spark more famous names, like Ziggy Marley, failed to ignite among the masses.
That was probably the most glaring similarity between Bob Marley and Garnet Silk, the fact that they were both hero worshipped by Jamaica’s lower class and, through their music, transformed the status quo of a country obsessed with social standing. Continue reading
Gregory Isaacs – Coming in Rough in ’95
by Howard Campbell
An impish grin curls across Gregory Isaacs’ lips, his head bowed when the questions about his well-publicized battles with cocaine come up; how it has affected his career and if he’s still dependent on drugs. “Bwoy, mi nah really deal wid dat right yah now, mi ithren,” he says in that low, familiar nasal tone, “cause wi get to much bad publicity; anything Jamaican people hear dem believe right away, dem nuh inquire.”
You can’t blame Isaacs for wanting to erase the memories of the darkest period in his life. Since his first run-in with the authorities eight years ago for cocaine possession, the self-proclaimed “Cool Ruler” has experienced a decline of sorts in his career.
At 44, he’s still capable of rocking the crowds with a seemingly endless number of Lovers Rock hits (as seen at the White River Reggae Bash two years ago), and is still able to charm the ladies with his legendary onstage rapport. Though he has had a clutch of minor hits in recent times, the chartbusters that fans have come to associate Gregory Isaacs with have dried up; and many point to his experience with drugs as being the reason for the current dry patch. Continue reading
INNER CIRCLE – Miami’s “Bad Boys” Nominated for ’94 Grammy
by Sara Gurgen
They won the Grammy for best 1993 Reggae album, and now Inner Circle–Miami’s world famous, hard-working “Bad Boys” of Reggae–have been nominated for the 1994 Grammy with their latest Big Beat/Atlantic release, Reggae Dancer.
“It’s doing excellent, man, everywhere in the world; and when I mean excellent, I mean excellent,” said band leader and rhythm guitarist, Roger Lewis, in a recent Miami interview during a brief respite from Inner Circle’s hectic touring schedule. “It is one of the biggest selling foreign albums in Japan. Over 300,000 albums [have sold] in Japan [as of Dec. 21]. Hundreds of thousands in Mexico. In Brazil, in Europe–very well. In America, it’s not doing too bad. I think we made it up to about 200,000 copies.”
One of the songs on the album that has been released worldwide and doing very well is “Games People Play.” “It was not really a success in America, but ‘Games People Play’ was literally a hit single every where else in the world,” explained Roger. “It was a top 10 song in about 10 countries in Europe. It didn’t really go No. 1 and do what “Sweat” did, but it was top 10 in Holland, in Germany, in Scandinavia, in Brazil; and it was No. 1 in Japan.” Continue reading
It’s Jamaica 1995 and it’s Hip to be Rasta
by Howard Campbell
Buju Banton cries out for divine help in “God of my Salvation”; Capleton gives assurance that the Emperor still sits on the throne with the constant reminder that “Selassie liveth every time,” while Garnet Silk’s equally prolific shouts of “Jah Rastafari” have given the proclamation Bob Marley made internationally famous new flavor.
Such are the lyrics of cultural change that have been blaring through the speakers of Jamaica’s dance halls in recent times, replacing the gun and ribald lyrics of the DJs that dominated for the greater part of a decade. The cultural rebirth in the dance halls has also sparked a second coming of the Rastafari religion that traces its roots back to the late 1950s and which gained worldwide prominence in the 1970s with the international emergence of the dreadlocked Marley. Continue reading
Twenty Years Strong – Sly and Robbie
by Howard Campbell
Sly Dunbar smiles when asked what he thinks about the inevitable comparison of himself and partner, Robbie Shakespeare, to the legendary Clement “Coxsone” Dodd as Reggae’s greatest producers. “He’s [Coxsone] the greatest man,” says the dreadlocked drummer. “I’m his biggest fan and he doesn’t even know it.”
While Dunbar’s modesty concedes that accolade to the Rocksteady great, he and Shakespeare have no equal in the endurance department. Their eclectic style has encompassed Reggae’s metamorphosis from the post-colonial Rocksteady sound and the Rasta culture of the Marley era to the present Dancehall phenomenon.
There’s no disputing Coxsone’s contribution as a pioneer and visionary, but the magnitude of the “Rhythm Twins'” success, both as internationally respected musicians and producers, is incomparable. Continue reading
CAPLETON – THE PROPHET ‘PON TOUR
by Patricia Meschino
The imposing stage at Jamworld, St. Catherine, Jamaica, the largest open air entertainment center in the Caribbean and occasional home of Sting and former home of Reggae Sunsplash, is a challenge for any musical artist. When an entertainer fails to meet audience expectations there, the repercussions are greatly magnified; but when an artist delivers spectacularly, the effects seem to reverberate all the way to the island’s north coast!
While Sunsplash ’94 was, as a whole, not as successful as previous years, the five-day event nonetheless produced some unforgettable musical moments that are still being talked about. On Dancehall Night, the performance most “Splashers” are still raving about came from Capleton. As he took the stage about 2 a.m., the still black sky was illuminated by lighters flashing in approval as far as the eye could see. All over Jamworld, firecrackers were exploding as the zealous Dancehall congregation chanted along with the scriptural lyrics put forth by their “prophet.” Continue reading