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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » STEVE BARROW – BRITISH MUSICOLOGIST, NEXT BOOK IS ON JAMAICAN ALBUM JACKETS!

STEVE BARROW – BRITISH MUSICOLOGIST, NEXT BOOK IS ON JAMAICAN ALBUM JACKETS!

 

By Howard Campbell—

BRITISH musicologist Steve Barrow has covered just about every angle of Jamaican popular music since the early 1970s. For his latest project, he zoomed in on an often overlooked aspect.

Barrow’s book on album covers is expected to be released by London’s Soul Jazz Limited late this year. It traces jackets by Jamaican artists going back to the mento era of the 1950s to the present.

BARROW… writes book on jackets by Jamaican artists going back to the mento era of the 1950s to the present

 

He told the Jamaica Observer recently that even though he has been a student of Jamaican music since the 1960s, he learned new things during his research for his yet-titled book.

“What is remarkable is the way album covers also illustrate the development of Jamaican music over the period, from tentative beginnings to a sort of ‘confidence’ in the cultural expression contained in the music,” Barrow said.

He continued: “Each era illustrates the development of the music from local to international by ‘foreign styles’ through to a recognisable Jamaican style.”

Barrow did not comment on the albums, or how many, he and Stuart Baker of Soul Jazz Records have selected to date.

The Barrow book is the latest in a series of theme publications by Soul Jazz which doubles as a music distribution and publishing company.

Previous tomes have looked at Brazilian music, American black jazz from the 1970s and Jamaican dancehall.

The last book in the series looked at album covers from Studio One for which Barrow wrote an introduction about the famous Jamaican label.

Jamaican album covers came of age during the 1970s when Island Records (the largest distributor of reggae overseas) followed industry trends by making a statement with its marquee artist, Bob Marley.

Creative album jackets took a nosedive in the 1980s with the emergence of the smaller, easier-to-ship compact disc.

Steve Barrow discovered Jamaican music in the early 1960s, a time of mass migration from the Caribbean to Britain. In 1974, he started Daddy Kool Records which sold secondhand reggae records in London’s West End, and also reviewed songs for the weekly Black Echoes newspaper.

Since 1979, Barrow has compiled albums for Island and Trojan Records. The best known of those was the highly-acclaimed Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music, a four-CD set released by Island in 1992.

The following year, he started Blood & Fire Records with the management of pop singer Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fame. Of the 52 albums he worked on for that company, the most successful being the reissue of roots-reggae group The Congos’ Heart of The Congos album.

 

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