Don't let me down...
It was punk's "summer of hate", 1977, and the required pose was a sneer, a leather jacket and something hacked about – a spiky haircut, a ripped T-shirt, a sawn-off school tie. And, of course, no flares, the despised flag of hippiedom. But at the cold, concrete roots of Britain a very different aesthetic was also in the ascendant, one calling for an oversized tam, dreadlocks and a display of "the red, gold and green", the colours of Rastafari. Flares? Fine!
The two looks represented the different worlds inhabited by young white and black Britain, worlds which a year previously had been remote from each other but which by the summer of 1977 were unexpectedly and often uncomfortably rubbing shoulders....
More than just the "Punky Reggae Party" Bob Marley had playfully celebrated on disc that summer, these were gigs that signalled the birth of a new Britain, one in which the neofascist National Front was consigned to the margins and musical cross-pollination became the norm.*
As late as 1978, Joe Strummer would sing of being the only "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais" at a reggae extravaganza (Joe exaggerated; there were at least six).
In reggae terms, it had taken the emergence of Bob Marley to effect the uneasy coalition of rock fans, black youth, lofty Rastas and proto-punks that confronted each other at his celebrated 1975 Lyceum shows. After Marley, reggae was taken seriously as music of substance and innovation, where previously it had been treated at best as a novelty or simply ridiculed.
Takes me back to the days of my youth. What I remember about Marley's Lyceum show was listening the album: Bob Marley and the Wailers Live, and realizing that the Wailers were absolutely the tightest band I had ever heard:
NOTE * I wonder what Egyptian roots music is like?