Rudeboy The Story of Trojan Records
This film is currently streaming on YouTube at We Are One Global Film Festival
With so many film festivals being cancelled this year, We Are One: A Global Festival, where films are screened for free (but donations welcome) on YouTube is a big plus, giving a platform to films that might otherwise escape attention.
Cannes, Berlin, London and Venice are among the Festivals who have programmed films for the 10 day digital festival, and one of the London contributions is Rudeboy The Story of Trojan Records, documenting the rise and fall of the label that, more than any other, brought reggae to Britain.
The story starts with Duke Reid aka The Trojan, an ex-policeman who played music on his sound system outside his liquor store. Deciding the most profitable course of action would be to produce his own records. This he did, with Derrick Morgan as his first singer.
Director Nicolas Jack Davies has managed to interview many of the survivors of this era, including Morgan, who remembers hearing his song being played on the radio for the first time. Lee’ Scratch’ Perry, Dandy Livingstone, and Marcia Griffiths who sang Young, Gifted and Black, Pauline Black and Don Letts appear, too,
When Lee Gopthal set up Trojan Records in London, he soon found it wasn’t just the West Indian diaspora who was buying the records, but soon, too, the white British Skinheads, when as one person in the film describes, they were ‘fashion’ rather than ‘fascist’. The suede-headed and booted youth loved the sounds, and the audience were united by their working-class roots. In fact, Trojan released Skinhead Moonstomp for them. Later on, of course, we would see the birth of the 2 Tone movement with bands like The Specials and Selector having both black and white musicians.
Davies gives us re-enactments of some of the defining moments that is initially confusing, but also serves up a fine selection of archive music – Desmond Dekker (always a favourite of mine) singing Israelites is a great example. And if it is almost overwhelmed by nostalgia at times, at least it is nostalgia for something worthwhile.