This book should come with a CD. Walker’s encyclopaedic knowledge of reggae artists, not to mention jazz, ska, mento and blues players, plus the connections between these genres, is impressive. It’s hard to read so much about music without being able to also listen to it.
Walker is a passionate student of music and an informative writer. He illuminates the reggae scene from the inside out, with plenty of personal anecdotes. I really enjoyed the attention he paid to dub poetry (I plan on picking up a copy of Louise Bennett’s poetry anthology, Jamaica Labrish: Jamaica Dialect Poems, from the ’40s and ’50s) and the role of Jamaican dialect in asserting freedom and a separate identity from the British colonials. Walker also devotes a large number of pages to the women of reggae, something (surprisingly enough) no one seems to have done before, and offers an insightful critique and analysis of some of Bob Marley’s more controversial lyrics. Prepare to be immersed! And grab a Marley CD for the reading, if you’ve got one. (Sarah Nelson)
by Klive Walker, $21.95, 268 pgs, Insomniac Press, 192 Spadina Ave., Suite 403, Toronto, ON, M5T 2C2, insomniacpress.com