It is so very fitting that perhaps the greatest roots reggae collective of the past 30 years will play the historic Howard Theater in Washington, DC on Sunday, March 10, 2013. In its heyday, the Howard was known for catering to an African-American clientele, and played host to many of the great black musical artists of the early and mid-twentieth century.
Israel Vibration, a reggae harmony group originating from Kingston, Jamaica, comprised now of Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin and Cecil “Skelly” Spence, overcame childhood polio and went on to be one of the most successful roots groups to form in Jamaica in the 1970s, helped by the fact that the vocalists were singing over the flawless riddims of the Roots Radics. The Radics, anchored by Earl “Flabba” Holt on bass and drummer Lincoln “Style” Scott were changing the whole sound, vibe, and riddim of reggae in the late 1970s and early 1980s with their innovative riddims and aggressive playing style. They are now regarded as the most prolific band to ever emerge from Jamaica.
Israel Vibration released 3 successful albums before calling it quits in 1981 and relocating to NYC. In 1987, Doctor Dread of the Washington, DC-based RAS Records convinced the group to reform and record a record to mark the reunion. The album “Strength Of My Life,” recorded right here in Washington DC at the Lion and Fox Recording studios, was released to much critical acclaim and now stands as one of the greatest roots reggae albums ever recorded. They would go on to record 20 albums for the RAS label in 25 years, most of them recorded right here in Washington, DC. I wrote about this recently and you can read all about it HERE.
With regard to the Roots Radics – I have never purchased a bad album featuring the Roots Radics. This is perhaps the greatest compliment I could bestow on a band, because the Roots Radics have appeared on hundreds of albums. They’ve backed names like Barrington Levy, Don Carlos, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, and many more. Their dub albums with the likes of King Tubby and Scientist transformed the sound of dub forever. Even their side projects garner staggering attention and accolades. Style Scott’s collaboration with Adrian Sherwood in Dub Syndicate is an indestructible force in the world of dub. Flabba Holt has quietly produced a library of landmark reggae albums including Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse and State of Shock, Scientist Meets the Roots Radics, Dennis Brown’s Light My Fire and Milk and Honey, and projects with Mike Brooks, Beres Hammond, U Roy, Delroy Wilson and more. In 2007, he produced a 2-volume treasure of rare and impossible-to-find tracks featuring Nicodemus backed by the Roots Radics at Channel One.
Which brings me to today when I received on my front doorstep the limited vinyl pressing of Serious Nicodemus: Nicodemus Meets Roots Radics at Channel One. Available through www.ebreggae.com at a very reasonable price (it’s almost a steal), Serious Nicodemus is limited to 1,000 vinyl copies comprised of 2LPs each. In the 2 LPs we get the Radics on vinyl backing an extraordinarily witty and agile Nicodeemus. Originally released in 2007, the double album was pressed to vinyl and released in limited quantity exclusively through www.ebreggae.com. This set, reasonably priced at $9.99 USD, will easily be considered among the best yet to come for 2013.
As a fan, my favorite album featuring the Radics is Barrington Levy’s ‘Poor Man Style, which is a stunning listen from start to finish. Engineered by Scientist, the riddims are hard and the vibe is heavy. This is an absolute “must have” for any serious reggae head. I am also a huge fan of the early Eek-A-Mouse albums featuring the Roots Radics and Scientist. I could go on for days praising countless albums featuring both the Radics and Scientist, but I think you should listen to the music instead. Trying to put together a mix of my favorite Radics tracks is nearly impossible as it would take 10 volumes to even modestly encompass their work, but I gave it a shot. Here is “Roots Radics In Fine Style Vol. 1.”
1. Itals Live Intro (Humboldt 1988) 2. Eek-A-Mouse/Roots Radics – Ganja Smuggling 3. Israel Vibration/Roots Radics – Mr. Consular Man 4. Roots Radics/Scientist – Dedication to Flabba Holt 1 5. Roots Radics/Scientist – Some Dub 6. Flabba Holt – African Train 7. Barrington Levy/Roots Radics – Sensimelea 8. Nicodemus/Roots Radics – Free Up Black Man 9. Roots Radics/Scientist – Fighting Radics 10. Roots Radics/Scientist – Kill the Devil’s Wife 11. Barrington Levy/Roots Radics – Poor Man Style 12. Roots Radics/Scientist – Radification 13. King Tubby Meets Roots Radics – Symbolic Dub 14. Eek-A-Mouse/Roots Radics – Penni-Walli 15. Barrington Levy/Roots Radics – She_Is_The_Best_Girl 16. Scientist/Roots Radics – Your Teeth In My Neck 17. Scientist/Roots Radics – Jah Jah Voice Is Calling (Peter Broggs) 18. Scientist/Roots Radics – Sunshine Version 19. Eek-A-Mouse/Roots Radics – Crime 20. Michael Prophet/Roots Radics – Gunman
INTERVIEW WITH GRAPHIC DESIGNER COLLEEN CANNON PLUS LIVE CONCERT AUDIO FROM BERKELEY 1978
Big up to my friend and MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG Editor Joe Jurgensen for a great interview with Ms. Colleen Cannon, graphic designer and creator of the historic Berkeley 1978 concert poster. As a poster collector himself, Joe asks very insightful questions which allow Colleen to shed some light on this historic work of art, and the story surrounding it’s creation.
The MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG wishes to thank Ms. Cannon for taking the time to discuss her poster. Please visit her website at marleyconcertposter.com to find out more about purchasing poster reprints, her limited edition calendar, and other collectibles.
INTERVIEW WITH MS. COLLEEN CANNON, CREATOR OF THE BOB MARLEY BERKELEY 1978 CONCERT POSTER
by JOE JURGENSEN
Tell us a little bit about where you’re from. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Los Angeles in 1954 the year my parents, native New Yorkers, moved to LA. I grew up in New York City following my parents divorce, my mother moved me and my brothers back to the NYC in 1963.
You designed a fantastic poster for Bob’s concert on Friday July 21, 1978 at the University of California, Berkley. How did it come about for you to be the one chosen to create that poster?
Thanks for the compliment. I was at the right place, at the right time, as they say. I had graduated from college and moved to Berkeley when “the opportunity of a lifetime” literally fell into my lap.
The Bob Marley poster project came to me via a colleague I was working with at a local East Bay Newspaper, the California Voice, where I was the photographer. Bobbye Dones also happened to be working for Superb Productions, the student group that produces shows at UC Berkeley.
They were working on the Annual Berkeley Jazz Festival at the time. To make a long story short I was immediately hired by the editor of the Berkeley Jazz Festival Program magazine as the assistant art director. The next project turned out to be the Bob Marley & the Wailers Greek Theater Concert. The show was part of the Kaya Tour. There was no competition to design the concert poster. It wasn’t offered to a known poster artist. I was literally handed the opportunity by the Jazz Festival magazine editor – all I had to do was say yes.
Wow. Do you remember what image you used to draw it or what image you had in your head when you were drawing it?
There was little time to make the poster and on top of that I had never designed a professional concert poster before. Yes, it was my first poster ever and it was for Bob Marley! OMG! I was very nervous and excited but had to work fast. It was important to me to distinguish my Bob Marley poster from the other concert posters – typically photographs of Bob Marley.
I had studied photo-silk-screening at Stanford and wanted to achieve a similar effect with color blocking. I was given a few photos and had my own album covers to study and be inspired by, including Rastaman Vibration, African Herbsman and Kaya. In addition, I also made some high contrast photocopies of several photos to help envision the color separation and blocking of the portrait. It was important to me to use multiple resources to capture Bob Marley’s spirit more so than just his image. I wanted viewers to see the ‘I and I’ within Bob’s portrait.
After working on several conceptual drafts everything coalesced into a single graphic image that then had to be separated into 3 different colors for the printing process. I painted each color on a separate piece of acetate that when layered together created the image.
At that point where you into reggae?
My father introduced me to reggae in 1972 when he took me to see “The Harder They Come” with Jimmy Cliff. That movie of course, became a classic and introduced a lot of people to reggae music. Later, I was introduced to Bob Marley’s music in 1976 by my college professor and his wife. When I first heard Rastaman Vibration, like most I became an instant fan.
Had you seen Bob in concert before?
No, I had never seen Bob Marley perform before that night, July 21, 1978. I did see him again in 1979 when Bob Marley & the Wailers Survival Tour came through the Bay Area. Incidentally, my father also saw Bob Marley & the Wailers perform in Zimbabwe in 1980 for Independence Day, which, as it turned out, would be one of his last concerts.
Did you attend the show?
Of course, that was part of my deal, along with a backstage pass. The night was electric, amazing. Bob Marley was in the prime of his life. The band was cookin’ and the I-Three’s outstanding harmonies had the Greek Theater rockin’.
Did you get to meet Bob at the show or anytime after?
Yes, my friend and I went backstage during intermission and as we approached stage staff to inquire about Bob and the band Bob Marley himself came walking up at that very moment. Star struck, I reached out my hand and introduced myself as the designer of the concert poster. He took my hand, smiled and said he liked it very much “Irie,” Bob said to me. I floated back to my seat.
Did you ever get into Rastafari?
I have a great deal of respect for Rastafari and its message for the oppressed and liberation of the people. Bob Marley was the emissary of Rastafari and reggae music. Songs like “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Exodus” and “Redemption Song” are spiritual anthems. I love the music, the message, the culture, the ital food, and had my beautiful dreadlocks for decades.
How many posters were printed up?
It was a short press run typical of the time, not more than 500 were printed. I actually still possess a few of the original printers’ proofs. These are the first posters off the press while the press operator made adjustments to the print settings. I have made some of them available to collectors.
These proofs are truly unique, “one of a kind” prints due to the variations and imperfections in the offset printing process. That’s how posters were printed back in the 70’s. The printers proofs were given to me by the printer and have never been seen or displayed in public. Due to their rarity they are highly valuable collectors items.
Who would typically go around and hang up the posters?
The Superb Production staff put the posters up around town prior to the show.
After the show, do you remember trying to go around and collect any of the displayed posters around town?
I wish I had gone around to collect them I had no idea of their historical significance. Fortunately, in addition to the printers’ proofs I was also given several posters from the original press run. Collectors have bought them over the years. Your poster was snatched up that night by Roger Steffens and he has since had just about everybody who was involved in Bob’s life to sign it. It is the centerpiece of his collection and is proudly displayed (up stairs) right as you walk in his front door.
Do you get any special feeling knowing that not only Bob, but all of the others have seen, enjoyed and signed your work?
Actually Reggae Archivist, Roger Steffens got the poster a few nights before when he attended Bob’s Santa Crus concert. Roger went backstage that night and got the signatures of Bob Marley and all the Band members.
It was years later in 1987 that I found out that my Bob Marley poster had been the writing surface for Bob’s autograph etc., ultimately becoming the centerpiece of Steffen’s Bob Marley collection. It was featured in the Bob Marley Edition of the BEAT magazine that year. I also happened to be pregnant with my son Kaya at the same time.
I have very special feelings – just think I was very young, it was my first poster and Bob Marley had actually penned his name on the image I had created. Due to Bob Marley’s legendary status in the music world I have a unique place in reggae history as the only person to actually illustrate a portrait of Bob Marley for one of his concert posters.
To also know that it was not only autographed and blessed by Bob Marley himself, but also his mother Cedella, his wife Rita, his children and a slew of some of the greatest reggae stars ever is incredible. That poster is indeed priceless.
Was this a line of work you continued after the Bob show?
Yes, I continued working as a graphic artist, on and off over the years. Bob Marley, of course, was the highlight of my career. The closest I came to another famous reggae artist was creating a concert poster for Pablo Moses in the ‘80’s
What line of work are you into these days?
While I have worked as a graphic designer and recently web developer, I am also an educator and enjoy pursuing my fine art – Illuminated Abstracts. My web/graphic design work can be viewed at firewatergraphics.com. My fine art is available at uvlightstudios.com.
Where do you live?
I live right outside Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. Inspired by the active volcano – Kilauea, I moved here in 1997 with my son. Bob Marley and reggae is very popular here in Hawaii, especially among the Native Hawaiians. They have a version of reggae known as Jahawaiian. It’s mellow with a Polynesian twist.
What prompted you to do a limited edition printing of the poster?
I created a limited edition of the poster in 2004 for several reasons. First of all, cheap, fraudulent copies of the poster are being produced and sold on ebay. I wanted to produce the only authentic reproduction of my iconic poster. Secondly, I wasn’t really happy with the printing of the original poster. I was naïve about the printing process and not present at the press run. You can see the difference between the printed poster and the original artwork that was more saturated in color.
This also gave me the opportunity to recreate the poster according to my original vision. The reproduction was digitally reproduced under my direct authority using the original artwork I had kept safe over the many years. Unlike other Bob Marley concert posters mass-produced by poster companies, this reproduction was re-designed and digitally recreated by me, the original artist directly from the original artwork. The torn paper background indicates that it is a “reincarnation” of the original – reborn directly from the original artwork.
In addition, I wanted to make an affordable version. This reproduction is completely affordable for Bob Marley fans ($15), as opposed to the hundreds collectors have paid for an original poster.
Please tell us a little bit about the calendar you put together and recently released?
The idea came to me – Wouldn’t it be great to have a contemporary calendar that also had all of Bob Marley concert dates referenced? Nothing like that was out there, so I created it. I also wanted to show off my design abilities, which have noticeably improved over the years, and showcase my poster in a different format that was also informative. This is a beautiful 18 x 24 collector’s grade wall poster that features my Bob Marley poster and other memorabilia.
Do you still listen to reggae and Bob quite often?
Sure, I still listen to Bob Marley. Who doesn’t? Bob Marley was not just a musician, he was a prophet, his music and message is timeless. Reggae has become a worldwide phenomenon. I still like the hard-core reggae but I also like some of the fusion stuff too. Reggae has evolved, changed and been adapted by many different cultures. I think Bob would appreciate his worldwide influence.
It must be a cool feeling to know that you are permanently cemented into the history of Bob Marley’s musical life. Your poster will live on as a permanent document and also happens to be one of the cooler Bob Marley concert posters. If possible please tell us your feelings on being part of Bob’s story, the current state of Bob Marley’s music and his place in history?
I am deeply and profoundly honored to have had the opportunity of a lifetime come directly to me. It was destiny and even today I have to pinch myself. Bob Marley was like a supernova – His light and energy brighter than all others combined. Those of us who has the opportunity to enjoy one of his concerts were blessed because like a supernova – the light and energy was intense, wondrous, transformative and all too short.
Bob’s music is iconic, defies age, time and space. It transcends cultures and races, is ubiquitous and touches all who listen. There has been no one before Bob Marley or since to reach the impact Bob’s music and message made on the world, the Universe. Is there anything about his legacy that has surprised you?
As time goes on Bob Marley’s legacy has grown exponentially and is constantly introduced to new generations. That is no surprise. The fact that his music is known and embraced by people all over the world even in the most remote regions is astonishing. Bob Marley’s reach has truly been phenomenal. I am sure that even the Martians are rockin’ to Bob’s beats.
How can our readers find out more about you and purchase a poster and calendar?
Please go to MarleyConcertPoster.com where they will not only find out more about me and my famous poster, but also featured are Bob’s music, lyrics, videos, memorabilia, as well as other vintage concert posters to check out. Here is the page specifically dedicated to my Bob Marley Poster:
Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?
Yes, with the purchase of an original poster, calendar or reproduction from me, the original artist, your readers can actually “own a piece of reggae history,” not only dedicated to Bob Marley, but validated and blessed by the Greatest Reggae Legend of All Time. I am humbled by this whole experience and it gives me great pleasure to be able to share my story with midnightraverblog.com readers. MarleyConcertPoster.com has produced a video interview of my story. Part 1 can be viewed on YouTube.
Thank you so much for your time. One Love.
It was truly my pleasure. It brings back my incredible memories of Bob Marley and that truly amazing time in my life as a young adult. May I just close by quoting Bob Marley, “One Love, One Heart. Let’s get together and feel alright.”
Bob Marley & The Wailers
July 21, 1978
Source: Soundboard plus two audience sources
01 Bob talks + crowd noise 0:37
02 Positive Vibration 4:52
03 talk: Bob’s intro to Them Belly Full 0:17
04 Them Belly Full 4:29
05 Rebel Music 5:15
06 The Heathen 4:15
07 War 4:09
08 > No More Trouble 1:55
09 Running Away 4:19
10 > Crazy Baldhead 4:12
11 Crisis 4:06
12 I Shot The Sheriff 4:41
13 No Woman No Cry 7:06
14 Lively Up Yourself 6:58
15 Jammin 7:13
01 talk + crowd noise before encores 0:25
02 Kaya 3:15
03 Easy Skanking 3:24
04 Get Up Stand Up 4:41
05 > Exodus 8:51
06 talk + crowd noise before 2nd encores 1:00
07 Is This Love? 5:53
08 Punky Reggae Party > final thanks 7:17
For all of you Israel Vibration fans out there I am delighted to share with you several dub tracks featuring former Vibration co-founder Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig. These tracks were supremely produced by Netherlands-based mixologists “Not Easy At All” production crew. Very strong stuff in a time when we need it most…
I first heard about BIGGZ GENERAL through one of the reggae blogs that read, the Jah Blem Musik blog. BIGGZ GENERAL is the latest from a long line of multi-talented musicians and performers going back to the greatest musician and performer of our time, Biggz’ grandfather NESTA ROBERT MARLEY. A product of GHETTO YOUTHS UNITED, his mother was one of three angel-voiced anchors of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, and a muli-Grammy winner in her own right, Sharon Marley Pendergast, the biological daughter of Ms. Rita Marley.
So with a pedigree like that what can you expect from BIGGZ GENERAL? FINALLY you can hear it for yourself! Biggz recently released his long-awaited mixtape, and you can get it HERE!
You can expect to hear more from BIGGZ GENERAL soon. Stay tuned, stay connected to the MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG…
“BIGGZ GENERAL – SALUTE DI GENERAL mixtape Ghetto youths international, REBEL massive & Dj Tom LAROC & a message of love & inspiration and you are apart of JAH ARMY
LIKE BREDDA JESSE ROYAL say UNi = one VERSE = Song. all a WE!!!! wid ONE VOICE WID DI SAME MESSAGE…… ONE PERFECT LOVE ONE RIGHTEOUS AIM & ONE ULTIMATE DESTINY.”