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"Rockers" - subgenre of reggae Reggae

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Marve, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Marve


    Apr 18, 2008
    Could someone give me song examples of this genre please? Have searched and found nothing but references to Sly and Robbie..
  2. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Rockers is generally meant to describe the then newer sound of reggae, from around the mid '70s until the end of the decade when riddims generally became sparser and often slower, and lead to early dancehall.

    It was a sound that was defined and influenced a lot by Sly's drumming, IMO. Channel One studio was renowned for this style and I believe the drum sound they got there had a lot to do with it, as well as the house band being the Revolutionaries.

    Rent the movie 'Rockers'; it's a soundtrack of the period, with amazing cameos by the cream of JA's contemporary recording and dancehall artists. A classic in so many ways...Check out the 'takeover' when Horsemouth and Dirty Harry change the mood:

    Sly and Robbie (or often Lloyd Parkes on bass) as the backbone of the Revolutionaries, The Aggrovators, and other names that different producers used for essentially the same group of studio musicians at the time, redid a lot of the studio One classic riddims, and a bunch of new ones as well, and got a driving, clean and powerful sound with some really interesting new beats and a clean big bass tone with a lot more sustain than was common before. Soul Syndicate was a rival band that also held massive sway during the Rockers period, and mixed a lot of contemporary soul elements to the mix.

    The sound ruled for a good five years, evolving into Steppers before the Roots Radics came on the scene and led the way to a different style, usually with much sparser arrangements.

    Like all past JA music styles, it remains a common style in the panopoly that makes up modern reggae, with Ska, Rock Steady, Nyabhingi drumming, and even mento finding their place.
    cultrvultr likes this.
  3. Sounbwoy

    Sounbwoy Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2005
    Clayton, NC
    +1. Just remember, most people equate Rockers and Steppers (eighths on the bass drum) as the same thing...depends on who you talk to. Just like some would dispute One Drop's recommendations, calling those Reggae and Steppers being most of the later Aggrovators/Revolutionaries stuff. I think they're excellent suggestions...
    FWIW, "Fully" Fullwood, Soul Syndicate bassist, is a very soulful guy, and probably very underrated in his bass playing. He also backed Peter Tosh on tours and a couple records, and knows his way. Had the pleasure of meeting him and opening up for the present day Soul Syndicate....very cool, humble guy.
  4. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    There's really a lack of clarity in the definitions of some of the terminology when it comes to reggae, and "Rockers" is a prime example. One Drop probably knows his reggae better than anyone else on this forum and he always gives good examples. I've never come across a solid, comprehensive definition of the Rockers style. The most specific definition seems to be "a more militant style of drumming" which was developed primarily by Sly Dunbar. The drumming of the mid-to-late 70s was definitely more explorative than it had been previously, with accents being placed not only on the third beat (or second and fourth, depending on how you count), but also frequently on the one. Check out "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown" by Augustus Pablo and you'll hear what I mean. I guess Steppers (which I think of as having a bass drum hit on each beat - again depending on how you count) would fall under Rockers. Yours is a good question and it underlines the need for more research in this area.

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