June 25, 2015
Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83 charts the evolution of reggae and Rastafarianism.
Emerging in Jamaica in the 1930s from a period of political and social upheaval, Rastafarianism was not always as synonymous with reggae music as it would go on to become. With reference to Ethiopia – the seat of Emperor Haile Selassie I since 1930 – first appearing in Jamaican music on Lord Lebby and the Jamaican Calpysonians’ 1955 recording ‘Etheopia’, it wouldn’t be until the mid ’60s and ’70s, that the Rastafarian faith would dovetail so heavily with the island’s emerging reggae sound.
Telling this story, from calypso through to ska and roots reggae, Soul Jazz have pulled together a double compilation charting the music of the Rastafari like never before. Pivoting on figurehead master drummer Count Ossie who was the first to bring the deeply spiritual nyabinghi and burro rhythms to popular music (influencing everyone from the Skatalites to Clement Dodd), the compilation also includes music from Johnny Clarke, The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Ras Michael and The Sons ofNegus, Bongo Herman and Roy Ashanti of The Congos alongside many more.
Developing through the ’60s to include the avant-garde jazz sensibilities of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, the Rastafari influence carried into the ’70s on the back of roots reggae and Bob Marley, who ultimately turned one of the most politically conscious rebel musics into a worldwide phenomenon.
Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83 will be released on Soul Jazz Records on 31st July as a double LP, complete with 40+ page booklet.