An oral history of Holy Bob; So Much Things to Say reviewed

The Harder They Come, Jamaica’s first (and still finest) home-grown film, was released in 1972 with the local singer Jimmy Cliff as the country boy Ivan Martin, who becomes a Robin Hood-like criminal outlaw amid the ganja-yards and urban alleys of the Jamaican capital of Kingston. The film’s director Perry Henzell, a ganja-smoking white Jamaican who had been sent to board at Sherborne school, was influenced by the gritty ‘newsreel’ school of Italian neo-realism (Bicycle Thieves, Obsession), which aimed for a documentary immediacy off the street. The soundtrack, assembled by Henzell in under a week, effectively introduced reggae to white British audiences.

Without the soundtrack album, it is fair to say, reggae would not have taken hold in Britain in the way it did.

Fashionable dinner parties in early 1970s Britain often enjoyed a musical accompaniment of the Maytals’ gospel-hot ‘Pressure Drop’ or Desmond Dekker’s ‘007 (Shanty Town)’. Earlier, in the 1960s, scooter-riding Mods had adopted Jamaican ska as a supplement to their diet of imported American soul, but reggae was a ganja-heavy newcomer, whose strangely hymnal, incantatory quality insinuated itself happily into the middle-class hippie culture which Mods (and indeed skinheads) professed to despise.

via An oral history of Holy Bob; So Much Things to Say reviewed | The Spectator.

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