Deep Roots Music 1: Revival /Ranking Sounds

The Deep Roots documentary series is a goldmine for fans of Jamaican history and anyone interested in African diasporic religion and culture. This DVD is the first two segments in a series of six that looks chronologically at the development of religious and popular music in Jamaica. Of the two, part one is by far the most researched and is a valuable contribution to the field, as it is an ethno musicological walk from slavery until the advent of ska, with the aim of highlighting the role of African culture in the Jamaican context. Stops along the way include Kumina and Pocomania rituals, revival meetings, interviews with folklorist Miss Lou, footage of ’50s mento bands and a 16-year-old Jimmy Cliff singing "King of Kings.” The film understandably stresses the immense role the Skatalites played in this cultural drama and contemporary footage of Jah Jerry and Scully singing both acoustic folk and Rasta-inspired songs is a fitting way to tie everything together. Part two, Ranking Sounds, focuses on the development of sound systems and the deejay style. The majority of this segment feels like every other documentary produced on reggae music with two exceptions that will please hardcore reggae fans but will cause anyone else to wish the director was more aggressive with the editing. The first is a slightly hilarious, slightly embarrassing interview with talk-over pioneers Count Matchouki and Sir Lord Comic. The second is extended footage of a forgetful Saturday night with the legendary Jack Ruby Hi-Power sound system. (MVD)