Punky Reggae Party: Music in alternative culture

Punky Reggae Party: Music in alternative culture

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As a youth I discovered punk rock, a year or so later I discovered heavy roots and dub reggae when I accidentally tuned into DJ Mike Shaft at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester who was playing a heavy dub track by Scientist. For me it was the music itself of both punk and reggae that I was initially drawn towards, I know there is no such style of music as punk but some of the things that a lot of bands had in common was an honesty, liveliness, a sense of urgency and anger that I hadn’t seen expressed in music before. Similarly it was the honesty and a sense of injustice coupled with the heavy bass lines and rhythms that attracted me towards reggae music.

The lyrics of punk and reggae provided me with something of an education and a soundtrack to what was going down politically and socially at the time, in 1980 Moss Side band Harlem Spirit released the single ‘Dem a Sus’ that spoke of Police harassing black people in Moss Side with sus laws, from the punk side of things The Ruts had released ‘Babylon’s burning’ a year earlier in 1979, and sure enough the Sus laws got to much and Babylon did burn during the nationwide riots of the early 1980s.

It would be easy to sit here and pick dozens of tunes from both punk and reggae that got me interested in all sorts of things outside of music, but I won’t, but what I will certainly say is that punk and reggae have certainly played their part in the development of alternative culture in the UK and abroad. There was a strong punky reggae fusion going down within the alternative and Travellers scene of the 1980s and 90s, bands such as RDF (Radical Dance Faction) Here and Now, and Back to the Planet all blended elements of punk and reggae in their music.

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