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Friday, July 24, 2009

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae


Release Date: July 24th, 2009

Rated PG

Running time: 98 minutes

Stascha Bader (dir.)

Stranger Cole (narrator)

Our reviews below:


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By John C.


Rocksteady was the Jamaican style of music that proceeded reggae, but came directly after ska. While ska music tended to be more something you would dance to, rocksteady was a bit slower, and had romance and spiritually themed lyrics, while reggae music tended to be used as a form of activism. It also featured the prominent bass line that became known in Jamaican music.

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is an interesting documentary on the subject, featuring timeless performances of classic songs. While the documentary is a lot of talk, it also has equal amounts of music. This isn’t really something that you need to venture out to a theatre to see, as it would play just as well at home. Just make sure you have a good sound system.


Rock Steady - The Roots of Reggae Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Rock Steady - The Roots of Reggae is an interesting look at Reggae and it’s predecessor, Rocksteady.

While I do not usually listen to Reggae type music, I am into music in general, so I did find this documentary quite interesting to watch. The Jamaican style music is discussed by veterans of the music itself, as they prepare for a reunion concert. Hearing their stories, as well as the story of the music was nice to watch. A very music driven documentary, parts of it could practically be played as a radio documentary.

I would definitely recommend this documentary to anyone interested in this kind of music, or even other types of music in general. A well put together documentary.


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is an interesting documentary about the orgin of reggae music, and it's ties to Jamaican culture. Through interviews with several of the founders of rocksteady and reggae music, we hear how it all started with ska music, which then led to an early precursor to reggae music known as rocksteady. (Rocksteady was slower than ska music, and lasted from 1965 to 1968. Rocksteady tended to have more gangster themed lyrics, were as reggae was often more politically themed.) The interviews are coupled with tours of the artist's original homes. And of course, we get to see and hear the original artists rerecord their original songs.

This documentary has great, toe-tapping music, and interesting history. A fun documentary, that is a great way to end Caribana. I guarantee that you won't be able to sit still through the music in this documentary. Watch the film, and get the soundtrack.


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Before watching this film I had no idea what the term 'Rocksteady' meant. It turns out that Rocksteady is the transitional music genre between the original Jamaican Ska and today's reggae.

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is a really interesting to watch and listen to documentary. It follows the evolution of Ska to reggae as we know it today. The movie interviews several performers of the original rocksteady movement. It explains well the difference between Ska, rocksteady, and reaggae. It also gives insight into why rocksteady didn't last.

The movie also treats the viewers to recording sessions and performances by original rocksteady and reggae singers.

I really enjoyed this film. This isn't a dull or dry documentary. Rather, it's informative and enjoyable entertainment. If you enjoy music history or reggae music you'll like this film. This is a good way to pass a summer evening.


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is a documentary on a style of music that flourished only for a couple of years in the mid 1960s. Musicians from the urban ghettos of Kingston took the popular Ska dance music and slowed it down with a heavier bass line to create Rocksteady, which soon evolved into the more successful Reggae style. The film features a number of original artists brought together for a reunion concert, clips of which appear over the closing credits. Through interviews, recording sessions, and archival footage, we are given a good overview of the music and the people that made it.

I am not very familiar with Reggae, much less Rocksteady, Ska, or the Rastafari movement that venerates as their Saviour the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. I therefore watched this film with the same detachment as I had with Buena Vista Social Club, to which Rocksteady may be compared, save for the part of Ry Cooder as an intermediary. Fans of Jamaican music will no doubt enjoy seeing and hearing many of their favourite artists now and as they were then. Mainly in their sixties, they are all charming and eloquent in their recollections, their lovely Jamaican accents largely free of the patois that necessitated subtitles back in the day, and they all sing and play better than ever.


Consensus: Rocksteady is an interesting and very informative documentary on the roots of reggae. *** (Out of 4)

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