Saturday, May 27, 2006

R.I.P. Desmond Dekker

Just a quick shout out to the memory of the man who turned me on to a whole genre of music I would've otherwise missed out on. I went to high school with a bunch of kids who were into ska, but they were all nerds with shaved heads and two-tone suspenders who listened to The Toasters and stuff like that. Not my cup of tea. Then the only experience I had with reggae was the Bob Marley discs that always played at my uncle's house while they all smoked pot. Bob Marley bored me to tears. Let's face it, he's basically the (half) black Jimmy Buffett. I know college freshmen everywhere will disagree with that statement (just look for any dorm room with a poster of Bob smoking a huge spleef), but it's pretty much the truth. My indifference to reggae all changed once I heard a little tune called "The Israelites" in a little movie called "Drugstore Cowboy". That snakey guitar line, repetitive rhythm, and soulful voice was cooler than Matt Dillon's outfits, and that's saying a lot because he looked pretty awesome in that movie. So I credit Desmond Dekker and Trojan Records (for all their amazing re-issues and box sets) for turning me onto a powerful, vibrant form of music that I otherwise would've just dismissed as the soundtrack to overpriveleged white college kids with dreadlocks preaching about the evils of "Babylon".
Here's an awesome video from a TV show show in the vein of "Top Of The Pops" of Desmond Dekker & The Aces performing "The Israelites" to a bunch of Dutch dudes with weird haircuts.

1 comment:

Nahtanoj Repuseht said...

Yes, he was an unsung hero and one of the pioneers of the roots of Reggae as we know it. I have to slightly disagree with the Bob Marley comments. The album "Legend" which every frat boy buys and thinks he's really in touch with reggae and the struggles is like Jimmy Buffet, but Bob has some amazing other material that you will never hear on the radio. His early material was great and very old-school ska influenced and a lot of his later material was revolutionary. But yeah, some of the hits I could definitely do without ever again. I enjoyed your recap on Desmond though. Sadly too many people don't know anything about him and never will. The kids have no clue what music is man.... It's nice to see someone else who understands where a lot of it came from.
(by the way, this is Quiz Kid Jonny Gator from my space)