Reggae — vulcanizing, restrained, irresistible — is more than the national music of Jamaica: It is a social force that fills the complete cultural needs of the people it serves. Everyone in Jamaica, from the prime minister in his gardens to the Rastafarian elders in Trench Town, listens to the latest reggae songs for an immediate line on the political and spiritual pulse of the island.
Reggae Bloodlines, originally published in 1977 and here updated with a new afterword, was the first book to tell the story of the music of the Jamaican people and their spiritual nationality, the Brotherhood of Rastafari. It includes interviews with reggae’s master musicians — Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Big Youth, Peter Tosh, Augustus Pablo, Max Romeo — and Prime Minister Michael Manley; reportage on Jamaican politics; and it sorties into the nation’s lush interior in search of the ganja fields of Kali Mountain and the legendary Maroon enclaves, still inhabited by the descendants of slave warriors.
Reggae Bloodlines is not an encyclopedia of Jamaican style, nor a critical appraisal of its music — it is a definitive portrait of a struggling nation and its musical heritage at the crucial turning point of decolonization. Packed with hundreds of astonishing photographs, Reggae Bloodlines captures the restless rhythm of reggae culture like no book before or since.