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By the age of 15, David Rodigan was DJing at school dances and youth clubs.
The infectious, crazy back beat of Jamaican Ska first captivated him as a teenager in the mid 60’s; it was a driving, energetic sound which he found impossible to resist. When the pace cooled down and condensed into Rock Steady David was equally enamoured because the sweet, aching vocal style of Jamaica’s young stars could be heard to full effect.
The music was fresh, original and soulful. His fascination for these sounds became an obsession as he began what was to be a life long love affair with the music of Jamaica and for the past 30 years he has had the privilege of playing these songs on the radio and in clubs. In 1978, David Rodigan obtained a job on Radio London to alternate with Tony Williams on the Reggae Rockers programme. A year later he was offered a permanent slot at Capital Radio to present Roots Rockers, which ran for 11 years. Kiss FM when it re-launched in the early 90’s as London’s first legal 24-hour dance music station then offered David Rodigan a show where he currently hosts the Sunday night slot from 11pm till 1am.
By way of celebration, he has chosen a collection of tracks which encompass the positive aspects of real authentic reggae; essential, classic recordings, some of which have become gloriously obscure antiquities whilst more recent hits are also embraced.
May these songs bring to you the magic of a unique, inspiring music which took life in the bustling dancehalls of Jamaica 50 years ago.
Clifford Harper – cover illustrator:
We came across his work in The Guardian, and found it would be very interesting to get him to illustrate the covers for this 5 volumes compilation series by David Rodigan. After a few affords, we managed to get an appointment and met with the artist in South London where he now lives and he liked the idea of illustrating an album cover. The outcome is what you see on the cover. Judge for yourself.
Clifford Harper was born in 1949 in a working class neighbourhood of west London.
His father was a postman and his mother a cook. After a desultory education, expelled from school at 14, with a 2 year probation sentence, he began a series of low paid jobs. As a teenager he was drawn to the ideals of anarchism and a growing involvement in the ferment of the 1960’s led him in 1968 to ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’. Having first joined a commune deep in the Cumberland border country, in 1969 he was one of the founders of the famous Eel Pie Island commune, once described as “on the edge of anarchy”. In the 1970’s he became further involved in anarchist activity and began to work as an illustrator, mainly for the radical movement, and this led gradually to ore mainstream work. Since the 1980’s his work has appeared regularly in all the major newspapers in Britain and in the last few years he has become one of The Guardians most popular illustrators. Heavily influenced by comic books, Eric Gill and the narrative woodcuts of Frans Masereel, Harper's style evolved in the 1980s into a bolder, more expressionist direction, with much of his later artwork resembling wood or lino cuts, although in fact he still mainly works in pen and ink.