The British Reggae Revolution



In the late 1970s there was an explosion of bands that completely connected with disenchanted youth all over Britain.

They sang about isolation and rejection from a society that didn't understand them.

But it wasn't punk music, it was reggae.

Groups like Aswad, Steel Pulse, Matumbi and Misty in Roots were formed by first generation, British-born blacks who eloquently voiced the fear and anguish of growing up in a predominantly white society.

Brought up on British pop and their parents' records, they combined a punk attitude with a Jamaican reggae sound.

Their efforts to become successful mirrored thousands of young black kids across the UK who were coping with a right-wing backlash to the influx of Caribbean immigrants.

The National Front were stirring up racial hatred and the government's SUS law resulted in hundreds of black people stopped and searched on the mere suspicion of committing a crime.

It wasn't long before there was rioting in the streets.

The British reggae bands provided the soundtrack to that struggle.

Back then Don Letts - now a Grammy Award winning film maker - was the resident DJ at the infamous Roxy Club, credited with turning the punks on to reggae.

A first generation, British-born black himself, he had a front row seat watching this burgeoning scene produce hit making artists.

From the politicised heavy roots of bands like Steel Pulse to the smooth pop hits of Lovers' Rock, Don examines how Britain produced its very own reggae revolution.

Don Letts examines how Britain produced its own reggae revolution in the late 1970s.