Noted author and photographer Beth Lesser spent many months throughout the 70s and 80s in Kingston, Jamaica, recording the life and music of the artists pumping out reggae around the hot and crowded city. Her first book, focusing on producer King Jammy James, was excellent, but she has surpassed herself with this superbly presented overview of the 80s and the dancehall style of reggae which was prevalent at that time.
The text is factual, snappy and, most importantly, easily readable, but it’s the magnificent photography which makes this a book to look through again and again. Many well known artists and producers are featured, such as Gregory Isaacs and Sugar Minott, but so too are one-hit wonders, something common in the volatile reggae world. Names such as Squingy, General Flea and Chineyman, and their brief flirtation with the stage, bring back distant memories of 25 years ago, happily now recorded for posterity in this book.
It’s far more than a textbook history of the growth of dancehall, it’s a book written with love and a deep knowledge of the people and places involved.