Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae

DVD Reviews | Nov 25th, 2010

Starring: Stranger Cole, Rita Marley, Ken Boothe, Sly Dunbar, Ernest Ranglin, Marcia Griffiths, Derrick Morgan, Judy Mowatt, Hopeton Lewis, U-Roy, Leroy Sibbles
Written By: Stascha Bader
Directed By: Stascha Bader
Studio: Light Year
Buy On

There’s Ska and Reggae, but the music that was in between the two was Rocksteady. Rocksteady didn’t get the recognition it deserved, compared with the other Jamaican music so this documentary movie goes out to pay respect to the Rocksteady music and musicians.

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae was written and directed by Stascha Bader, and was narrated by Rocksteady musician Stranger Cole. The documentary is about Rocksteady music, which started around the mid-60s in Jamaica. Rocksteady music has always been the lesser known style in terms of popularity, but I love the music. Rocksteady really gave reggae its sound, and helped it become what it is today. It spawned a lot of wonderful and influential musicians and bands. This documentary follows around some of the Rocksteady musicians, as they reunite with friends to record some music, and play a concert. Some of the rocksteady/reggae musicians who are featured in the documentary besides Stranger Cole include Hopetown Lewis, Derrick Morgan, Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley, Leroy Sibbles, U-Roy, and Ken Boothe. The documentary also shows archived footage from that time period and helps bring the stories and history of it all together.

I’ve always liked Rocksteady music, along with ska and reggae. I got into reggae and then ska, and discovered the wonders of Rocksteady music along the way. I found myself enjoying that more than reggae sometimes, but I guess it depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is a nicely filmed documentary that gave us a peek into the lives of the Rocksteady musicians. You see where they recorded, where they lived, things like that. I liked when the musicians were reuniting and playing music at Tuff Gong Studios. I particularly liked watching Rita Marley talk about living in Trenchtown with the Bob Marley. I also liked hearing stories about Derrick Morgan and Strange Cole talking about living & working in Canada. I love documentaries like this because it makes you appreciate the music even more. It also made me want to listen to hours of rocksteady music as well.

If you get the DVD, there’s a few bonuses that are quite nice. You get a full rocksteady concert, which took place Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2009. Which really, this concert is worth the DVD and the fact is you get an excellent documentary as well! Besides the documentary and the concert, there’s a behind the scenes featurette as well. Fans of Rocksteady, ska, reggae and Jamaican music in general will love and appreciate this movie.

Feature-length concert
Behind the Scenes featurette


Surround 5.1


Bottom Line: Great documentary on Rocksteady music!
Running Time: 90 mins
Rating: NR
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating:


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