My Favourite Reggae artists.

I like words and some of these guys come up with some great words!

Bob Marley

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Michael Smith

Lee Scratch Perry

Peter Tosh

Black Uhuru

Steel Pulse

Althea and Donna

Toots and Maytals

Max Romeo

Jimmy Cliff

King Tubby

Desmond Dekker


Today’s Music to keep me SsSsAaANNnneEee in Isolation – Bob Marley – Rastaman Vibration.

Stewart reminded me of this gem of an album. ‘War’ must be one of the best tracks ever. I’ll enjoy listening to this! Are you picking up now??

Bob Marley – Rastaman Vibration 1976 Full Album – YouTube

Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Steel Pulse

I like a good bit of reggae, particularly if it has a strong social/political message, and Steel Pulse fit the bill.

Straight out of Handsworth Birmingham – a reggae band with a great beat and lyrics.

What could be better?

Today I’m playing my Steel Pulse albums!!

537 Essential Rock albums – Michael Smith – Mi Cy-aan Believe It – A reggae Dub gem

537 Essential Rock albums – Michael Smith – Mi Cy-aan Believe It – A reggae Dub gem


This is one of my favourite reggae albums – full of fire and brilliant. It has variety, great songs and a brilliant voice. This poem is superb.

  1. Michael Smith – Mi Cy-aan Believe It

It is a great injustice that this album is not available on CD. It is one of the best reggae albums ever made.

Michael was an outspoken, political Dub-poet from the early seventies. He was an inspiration for the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Legend has it that Michael was stoned to death by an angry mob after speaking out at a political rally. Jamaica was a scary place.

Michael had the most amazingly rich voice which was highly emotive and his poetry was so original. There are poems and songs. It starts with the short poem ‘Black ‘n’ White’ which melds into ‘Mi feel it’ with its hypnotic and highly original bass line. The Reggae music is heavy and dense with rhythm and power and would be incredible on its own. When married to words of this quality it goes up another notch. It was truly outstanding.

This album has the fabulous poem that is the title track but it also has amazing tracks like ‘Long time me no have no fun’, ‘Picture or no picture’ and ‘It-a come’. It was brilliant reggae with great poetry and political sentiments.

How can something of this quality remain unreleased?

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Five Nights of Bleedin’ – lyrics about the Brixton riots of the 1980s.

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Five Nights of Bleedin – lyrics about the Brixton riots of the 1980s.

Linton Kwesi

Linton was more than a poet, he was a commentator on the social situation in the black community in London.

Linton used his words like weapons. He described the passions and provided insight into the emotions. His words were a searchlight that illuminated what was going on.

The patois he used with that resonant voice connected straight to the heart. He was telling the story from the inside and you could feel it.

I saw Linton perform in Hull. He was brilliant. He recited his poems in that unmistakeable voice that sent shivers through you. I was expected a reggae band. I was expecting a wild rebel. I got Linton in a three-piece tweed suit, round glasses and hat looking for all the world like an Oxford professor. His words were far from scholarly, though imbued with skill, and ripped the air like bullets.

I was not disappointed.

Five Nights of Bleedin’

Madness, madness
Madness tight on the heads of the rebels
The bitterness erup’s like a heart blas’
Broke glass, ritual of blood an’ a-burnin’
Served by a cruelin’ fighting
5 nights of horror and of bleeding
Broke glass, cold blades as sharp as the eyes of hate
And the stabbin’, it’s
War amongs’ the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number one was in Brixton
Sofrano B sound system
‘im was a-beatin’ up the riddim with a fire
‘im comin’ down his reggae reggae wire
It was a sound checkin’ down your spinal column
A bad music tearin’ up your flesh
An’ the rebels dem start a fighting
De youth dem just tun wild, it’s
War amongs’ the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number two down at Sheppard’s
Right up Railton road
It was a night name friday when ev’ryone was high on brew or drew(?)
A pound or two worth of Kali
Sound comin’ down of the king’s music iron
The riddim just bubblin’ an’ backfirin’
Ragin’ an’ risin’
When suddenly the music cut –
Steelblade drinkin’ blood in darkness, it’s
War amongs’ the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number three, over the river
Right outside the Rainbow
Inside James Brown was screamin soul
Outside the rebels were freezin’ cold
Babylonian tyrants descended
Bounced on the brothers who were bold
So with a flick of the wris’, a jab and a stab
The song of hate was sounded
The pile of oppression was vomited
And two policemen wounded
Righteous, righteous war

Night number four at the blues dance, abuse dance
Two rooms packed and the pressure pushin’ up
Hot, hotheads
Ritual of blood in the blues dance
Broke glass splintering, fire
Axes, blades, brain blas’
Rebellion rushin’ down the wrong road
Storm blowin’ down the wrong tree
And Leroy bleeds near death on the fourth night
In a blues dance, on a black rebellious night, it’s
War amongs’ the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number five at the telegraph
Vengeance walk thru de doors
So slow, so smooth
So tight and ripe and -smash!
Broke glass, a bottle finds a head
And the shell of the fire heard -crack!
The victim feels fear
Finds hands, holds knife, finds throat
Oh, the stabbins and the bleedin’ and the blood, it’s
War amongs’ the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Linton Kwesi Johnson – All Wi Doin is Defendin – Lyrics that illustrate the passion on the streets in the Brixton riots

Linton Kwesi Johnson – All Wi Doin is Defendin – Lyrics that illustrate the passion on the streets in the Brixton riots


In the 1980s, at the height of the Thatcher years of depression and oppression, the black community in London was suffering more than most. There was widespread unemployment not helped by the institutional racism of the day. The crime rates went through the roof.

At that time there were racist National Front and British Movement thugs on the streets who would attack blacks. The police were considered the enemy. They would hound and arrest black youths on Sus charges (Stop and Search) and were considered racist. It was felt that the police were stopping blacks without cause and treating them without respect. The black community felt threatened and under attack from all sides. There was anger.

There was a terrible fire at a party in New Cross in which killed thirteen black teenagers (another committing suicide later) and which was thought by the black community to be a racist arson attack.

The community was simmering with fury. Passions were high. None of it was helped by the Press who portrayed the situation from the establishment view and did not seem to consider the black community perspective. The flames were being fanned.

The spark was lit through a possible misunderstanding. A youth was stabbed and police went to his aid. The rumour was that the police were killing him or allowing him to die. It set a riot in motion.

Linton Kwesi Johnson was our foremost black poet. He put his poems to reggae music and represented the black voice. He intoned his dramatic words in his rich melliferous voice using patois. The results were stunning. Through his music he became the spokesman for the black community. He logged the emotions and perspective of the besieged people of Brixton.

All We Doin is Defendin
war… war…
mi seh lissen
oppressin man
hear what I say if yu can
wi have
a grevious blow fi blow

wi will fite yu in di street wid we han
wi have a plan
soh lissen man
get ready fi tek some blows

doze days
of di truncheon
an doze nites
of melancholy locked in a cell
doze hours of torture touchin hell
doze blows dat caused my heart to swell
were well
and are now
at an end

all wi doin
is defendin
soh get yu ready
fi war… war…
freedom is a very firm thing
all oppression
can do is bring
passion to di eights of eruption
an songs of fire wi will sing

no… no…
noh run
yu did soun yu siren
an is war now
war… war…

di Special Patrol
will fall
like a wall force doun
or a toun turn to dus
even dow dem think dem bold
wi know dem cold like ice wid fear
an wi is fire!
choose yu weapon dem
all wi need is bakkles an bricks an sticks
wi hav fist
wi fav feet
wi carry dandamite in wi teeth

sen fi di riot squad
cause wi runin wild
wi bittah like bile
blood will guide
their way
an I say
all wi doin
is defendin
soh set yu ready
fi war… war…
freedom is a very fine thing

Poetry – Strife – a poem about living your life in a way that improves the world.

Poetry – Strife – a poem about living your life in a way that improves the world.

I was listening to Bob Marley on the radio. It seemed to me that he made equality, freedom and justice the centre of his being and expressed it in all he did.

It was inspiring.

You can live your life happily and express your philosophy in all you do, with a smile.

For love, smiling and friendliness is not weakness and some things are even worth putting your life at risk for.

Tolerance, freedom, justice, equality and fairness are merely words. They implicitly carry respect and responsibility within their compass. But when those words are put into practice they produce happiness, harmony and love.

That’s the future I fight for with every word.

I won’t impose my views on you if you refrain from imposing yours. To argue is good. To listen is better. To respect each other is necessary.

I want freedom with a smile; tolerance with respect and no indoctrination.

I want humans living in harmony with the planet.

That seems worth basing your philosophy on.


All my life is strife

Until I achieve my aims.

For my philosophy has energy

With which to play the games.

Equality and frivolity

Go hand in hand;

Connecting a great wisdom

To the zest of the gland.

Freedom we feed on

As we strive to be heard.

For the power of a bomb

Is less than of a single word.

Tolerance is no offence

It is the basis of what is right.

To impose your will on others

Is not even polite.

Peace, love and happiness –

A cliché it is true.

But one on which to base a life;

A future for the world and you.

There is no rest

Until all wrongs are right.

Until that day

All life is a fight.

Opher 13.7.2015