Rockers! (and my quest for classic reggae albums)

Well, after years of hearing about the movie “Rockers” I finally checked it out of the library and watched it. It is incredible! Right from the opening scene I was captivated. The film begins with the Abyssinians, and local healer Ashley Harris (scope his dread, its HUGE!) pounding out the Rasta anthem “Satta Massagana” – and immediately I was drawn in. What makes this movie great is not so much the plot, but the music and the musicians themselves who portray the various characters in the film. A real who’s who of the golden age of reggae.

The plot loosely centers around the legendary reggae drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Brown, and his quest to find his stolen motorcycle. During this search, he solicits helps from reggae luminaries such as Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, Robbie Shakespeare and others. It is a thrill to see these artists on-screen not only as musicians, but as actors, dutifully following the script and clearly enjoying themselves.

Of course, the main reason to see this is for the music. My favorite sequence is of “Horsemouth” navigating the winding foothills of Jamaica on his motorcycle to The Heptones’ classic, “Book of Rules”. This scene just gives me chills.

I guess the best thing I can say about this film is that it has become the catalyst for me to discover reggae music.

Since viewing “Rockers”, I have been on a quest to collect classic reggae vinyl – my journey really starts and ends with the local record shop, Zion’s Gate. The staff is excellent and really knows their stuff. I left with the following LP’s after my first visit:

The Heptones – “Freedom Line”

Culture – “Two Sevens Clash”

The Abyssinians – “Satta”

All great LPs.

Another great source for all things reggae is Kid Hops, DJ extraordinaire and host of KEXP’s Positive Vibrations. I sent Hops an email telling him what I was up to and could he help me out by recommending some more classic titles of this era, and he did not disappoint. He enthusiastically suggested a bunch of classic titles for me to check out.

So, if you are reading this, go rent “Rockers” and maybe I will meet you disc digging some Saturday afternoon!