David Katz talks with Midnight Raver about ‘Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae’ (Revised and Expanded)

mY GOOD friend David Katz, author of the alpha/omega of books documenting the history of reggae, just released the revised and expanded edition of ‘Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae,’ which tells the story of “the big music from the likkle island” through interviews with those who lived it.  To say it is definitive does not adequately encompass nor convey the value of this work both as a reference for writers, collectors, fans, and historians as well as a documentary of this historic movement, told through a decades worth of personal interviews with the artists and musicians responsible for sparking it and bearing the torch for it.
I spoke recently with David regarding his newly published ‘Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae (Revised and Expanded).’
MR:  So I was excited to hear that you would be revising and updating your book “Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae.” The book is a phenomenal piece of history. What can we expect in the revised edition that’s in stores now?
DK:  In a nutshell, there are two new chapters on the dancehall era (chapters 13 and 14), tracing what happened after ‘Sleng Teng’ and bringing the book into the new Millennium. Also, there is a lot of interview material in chapters 10, 11 and 12 that was not in the original book, with artists such as Barrington Levy, Trinity, Josie Wales, Charlie Chaplin, etc etc. Additionally, because I know much more than I did when I submitted the manuscript of the original edition back in 2002, I have completely restructured chapter 1, because I have much more solid information in the book about the very first recordings ever made in Jamaica – that is, who made them, when, how and why. The text was also updated to reference the final days of those that have passed away since the book was first published, in order to honour the dead. And the text has been re-edited throughout, to make it tighter and to aid the flow. Plus, some errors were corrected.
Furthermore, this time there are 40+ photos on proper photo plates using high-quality paper, including several images not published before, and some great rare archive images. For reasons that were never explained properly, the original edition only had ‘integrated’ photos, which were not on the correct type of paper, so many were not reproduced properly in the original book.
You can purchase ‘Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae’ (Revised and Expanded) HERE.

Doctor Dread At The Controls: Rare Dubs

Included here is something you will not hear anywhere else.  Our friend Doctor Dread, founder and chief of Washington DC-based RAS Records for more than 25 years, blessed us with a rare limited vinyl pressing of the album ‘Is It Rolling, Bob?: A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan, which Doc produced and released on the RAS label in April 2005.  The album features many of reggae’s most treasured artists performing their own versions of Dylan’s classic tunes.  For example, you find Luciano performing “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”; Don Carlos sings “Blowin’ In The Wind’; Gregory Isaacs on “Mr. Tambourine Man”; and Toots Hibbert on “Maggie’s Farm.”
According to Billboard Magazine:
“The themes of spirituality and inspired protest common to Bob Dylan and Bob Marley have long been noted. This mostly delightful collection, not surprisingly, leans heavily on Dylan’s spiritual side, appropriate to the artists covering his music and the genre in which it is interpreted. Dylan songs as reggae is a natural fit, illustrating the bond between the two giants—though their closest actual meeting was at a Los Angeles club gig Marley and the Wailers performed in 1976. Among the highest—and most enjoyable—expressions of this bond are Toots Hibbert’s take on “Maggie’s Farm,” Beres Hammond’s “Just Like a Woman” and Black Uhuru singer Michael Rose’s reading of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” The last of those is particularly relevant to Jamaica’s history of slavery, crushing poverty and violence. Also worth several spins is the remix of Dylan’s own rendition of “I and I.”
The most intriguing side on this double album, which is pressed on 180 gram collector’s grade vinyl, is Disc 2 Side B which contains 5 outstanding dub tracks mixed by Doctor Dread at Lion and Fox Recording Studios in Washington, DC.  The dubs are not hard and heavy but have a very atmospheric, chill vibe.  Of the 5 tracks, my favorite is “I and I Dub,” which can hardly be described with words.  It is a truly sublime, wondrous journey into Dylan in Dub.
Many thanks to Doctor Dread for these rare gems, and for producing some of the best roots reggae albums of the past 30 years.
1. I & I Dub (Vocals by Bob Dylan)
2. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Dub (Vocals by Luciano)
3. Lay, Lady, Lay Dub (Vocals by Mighty Diamonds)
4. One Too Many Mornings Dub (Vocals by Abijah)
5. Blowin’ In The Wind Dub (Vocals by Don Carlos)



Bob Marley and the Wailers Live at the Quiet Knight, Chicago, 1975

There are many great live concert bootleg recordings by Bob Marley and the Wailers, many of which have been presented here on this blog over the past year.  However, it is hard to find that rare flawless soundboard recording that showcases an epic performance that is remembered as one of the greatest of an artist’s career.  Luckily, we have that in Bob Marley and the Wailers Live at the Quiet Knight, Chicago, IL, June 10, 1975.  This is the only recording I share twice per year on here because it is THAT GOOD!
There are so many interesting notes about the show: no Marcia Griffiths on the tour; a new guitarist from upstate New York named Al Anderson touring with the band for the first time; Marley’s NYC herb dealer, a white hippie kid named Lee Jaffe, who blows the shit out of the harmonica on “Three O’clock Road Block” and “Talkin’ Blues” (Interestingly, Jaffe would go on to make moves in the industry, producing Peter Tosh’s ‘Legalize It’ album and shooting the iconic cover photo).
But most striking to me is Marley’s performance.  As raw, as gritty, as grimy a performance you will hear from Marley.  Clearly exhausted from touring and playing small cigarette smoke-filled gin and whiskey joints, his voice breaks throughout the show.  The performance is a “soul sacrifice” for Marley, as he surely left a piece of it laying on stage that night.  The crowd is raucous and lively.  Think about this: they had never seen ANYTHING like this before.  This was still entirely new in 1975.  The crowd, and Marley’s interaction with it, bring a whole new element to this performance, primarily because the club is so small, and the crowd so close to him.
The performance is simply hard to believe, and if it were not documented here in superior soundboard quality, we never would have known it occurred.


The Quiet Knight was a 60′s and 70′s era folk and jazz club owned by Richard Harg that originated on North Wells in Chicago and moved briefly to 953 West Belmont toward the end of its run.  Many musicians got their start here including Bruce Springsteen (as opening act for the Persuasions).  Blues legend Muddy Waters even had a weekly gig at the club.
The club also housed some of the earliest punk and proto punk shows in Chicago. One of Chicago’s earliest known “punk type” shows was The Velvet Underground at the Quiet Knight in 1970. Sometime in the late 70s the Quiet Knight became Tuts, which played more of the traditional punk bands.
Today, the old Quiet Knight is known as Milio’s Hair Salon.  The list of bands that played this little hair salon include Tom Waits, R.E.M., Prince, Run D.M.C., The Cramps, Bauhaus, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Stray Cats, and Psychedelic Furs.
The second Smashing Pumpkins show on August 10, 1988 was there. Legendary Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin had not yet joined the band so they played with a drum machine, and they were on the second stage, which was in a back room. They weren’t good enough or ready for a front-room stage.

In late spring/early summer 1975, Bob Marley and the Wailers embark on a tour of small clubs throughout the U.S. in support of the Natty Dread album.  The Wailers play the Quiet Knight club on June 9 and 10, 1975.  The performance is known as one of Marley’s best in a small venue, and the circulating soundboard recording is pristine, although incomplete.  The bootleg recording is routinely included in “best bootleg” lists on blogs and music journals.  The recording has circulated as “Jah Joys and Rainbows”, “Live in Chicago”, and “The Last Club Tour ’75.”

In addition to including the recording of this historic show, I have included a review of the June 9, 1975 performance written by Lynn Van Matre of the Chicago Tribune, published June 10, 1975.

Click to enlarge
Band Lineup
Bob Marley, vocals, rhythm guitar
Aston Barrett, bass
Carlton Barrett, drums
Al Anderson, lead guitar
Tyrone Downie, keyboards
Alvin Patterson, percussion
The I-Threes, backing vocals (Rita Marley & Judy Mowatt)
Lee Jaffe, harmonica
1. “Slave Driver”
2. “Trenchtown Rock”
3. “Concrete Jungle”
4. “Midnight Ravers”
5. “Talkin’ Blues”
6. “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)”
7. “I Shot The Sheriff”
8. “Natty Dread”