The Heart of Saturday Night

The photos are of some of the featured artists, they are: Lloyd Parks, Junior Marvin, Bo Peep, Dean Fraser with the Ras Brass, Burning Spear, Pablo Moses, Mutabaruka, Puma Jones, Joe Higgs. They’re supposed to get larger if you click on ’em.

Over the years I’ve been tempted many times to post reggae playlists here but somehow apathy seemed to get in the way. Reggae was an obsession with me for about 20 odd years, basically throughout Bob’s musical career, consequently I accumulated a fairly large collection plus I visited Jamaica regularly, sometimes several times a year. I was always involved with Jamaican culture and music throughout this period. After I retired and moved to northern California I became a DJ on the local NPR radio station, every Saturday night from midnight ’til 2am for 7 years. I had a total free hand to play anything that I wanted and I’d mix it up with jazz, reggae, blues, African etc. I taped every show, labelled ’em and tossed ’em into a box with dozens of others, there was never any attempt to organize them or even to listen to them.
However, I recently got the urge to reorganize the upstairs room where anything and everything had been pushed out of sight over the years, therein I found dozens of boxes of tapes, literally well over a thousand, so I installed about 40 ft of shelves and started organizing them plus all the other media up there. The results have been wonderful! I’m now replaying not only my airchecks but also the results of obsessively having a recorder with a blank tape in it attached to my radio at all times; I’ve got the cultural history of the last half of the 20th century on tape and it’s amazing listening to it all again. I listen on earbuds in the early hours when I can’t sleep, it’s the best time of the day.
Last week I played a cassette of my radio program from the 90’s, my show was called ‘The Heart of Saturday Night’, and this one was a reggae program. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d play it here for anyone who’s interested, it’s almost two hours, I edited out a couple of PSA’s that were of no interest and split the program into two sections.
So call it a playlist, a blog or a radio program, take your pick, use it as background while you do the dishes or whatever. I hope you enjoy at least some of it.

Here’s the playlist.
part 1
1. Sharpville by ‘The Reggae Philharmonic’.
2. What a Joy by ‘Black Uhuru’.
3. Iron Sharpeneth Iron by ‘Culture’.
4. Freedom Song by ‘Third World’.
4. A Song by ‘Pablo Moses’.
5. War inna Babylon by ‘Max Romeo’.
6. Country Boy by ‘The Heptones’.
7. Roots Train by ‘Junior Murvin’.
8. Flashing Whip by ‘Jah Lion’.
9. Coming on Strong by Prince Jazzbo’.
10. ‘Skank in Bed by ‘Scotty & Lorna’.
part 2
11. The Existance of Jah by ‘Dennis Brown.
12. Love and Devotion by ‘Jimmy Riley.
13. There’s a reward for me by ‘Joe Higgs.
14. Marcus Garvey by ‘Burning Spear.
15. Peace, Love and Justice by ‘Ras Michael.
16. The Same Song by ‘Israel Vibrations.
17. I am that I am by ‘Peter Tosh.
18. Jump Jump by ‘Bunny Wailer.
19. Redemption Song by ‘Dean Fraser.
20. The System by ‘Mutabaruka.
21. White Man Country by ‘Mutabaruka.
22. When you Remember by ‘Mutabaruka.

15 thoughts on “The Heart of Saturday Night

  1. GF, what a wonderful life you’ve had / are having. I’ve started listening and the music is great; you should write a book, or do a regular podcast or something. You have a wealth of knowledge about diverse types of music, a fascinating insight into different cultures and sounds. I’m looking forward to listening to the remainder.

  2. Listened to the first set and it’s sounding great so far…..I like all the links as well as the music.

    Am very jealous that you had your own proper radio show!

  3. Wot no hip-hop? Arf. Listened to the first lot. Lovely stuff. I remember the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra having a minor hit with Minnie the Moocher back in the late 80s – that wasn’t particularly reggae-ish either! I love your outspokenness about the film reviewers – don’t hold back, gf! (Didn’t see Timecode but High Fidelity was great – imdb would suggest this show was from 2000, by the way!) Anyway, great music – all new to me apart from Max Romeo. Particularly enjoyed the Heptones. Scotty and Lorna were fun too.

  4. I put in a response elsewhere about the early punk scene at Erics where there was a very long gap between the the bands starting and any records coming out .. so the dj ( holly johnson sometimes) had to be very inventive – Jonathon Richman on repeat
    Pairubu replied that down his way it was all reggae .. it must have been that in coventry too to inspire the specials & two-tone .. wish we’d had some up in Liverpool as it would have been great to dance to
    Great selection to listen to … thanks for posting .. very knowledgeable

  5. Very enjoyable first half once I finally got it to play. Not your fault or the site’s. My computer has decided not to find files when I use Firefox and to play them really badly on Chrome. Went back to IE and all seemed well. Loved the music and the potted film reviews. Looking forward to playing part two.

  6. Love the Joe Higgs track (and your reminiscences about him, gf). The Burning Spear track is great too. As is Peter Tosh. I mean, obviously they all have their merits but these are the ones that are causing me to prick up my ears. “Jump Jump” sounds surprisingly “80s pop-reggae” to me compared to the other tracks – fun though! Oh and this version of Redemption Song is really moving – as you go on to say! That’s what comes of real-time commenting… Anyway, lovely stuff. Thanks, gf!

  7. Well what a pleasant surprise, I had trepidations about posting this, I sat on it for a while; I thought that it was an imposition to ask Splillers to devote two hours to a post but on the other hand the content perhaps justified it, so I’m very happy with all of your reactions.
    At one point I thought I might just post part one and then I thought I might edit out all my chat but in the end I said ‘What the hell, just post it and if they don’t like it they can ignore it.’
    I wasn’t sure of the date but Bish’s guess for 2000 was probably right, it prompted me to Google the movie ‘Timecode’ and that was released that year. Timecode is what is printed on the edge of film when shooting and it’s essential in the editing and syncing process so having been involved with it all my life an experimental film with that title was definitely interesting.

    Ali, thanks for your positive vibrations, I’ve toyed with the book idea though not seriously, I’ve also been approached by publishers to produce a book of my photographs but I’ve declined that also since it meant giving them control over how they would be presented, we couldn’t agree on that.
    Something I have done though is to write essays on various aspects of reggae and Jamaican culture over the years, I usually just file them in a folder titled ‘Notes’ on my desktop.
    Your comment prompted me to open it up and read through some of them and that caused me to realize that there were quite a few missing, a computer search turned up some of those but not all. Next I went to my account here at the Spill and did a search on all my back posts, there they were though sadly those only went back to 2010, missing lots more from before the switch to WordPress.
    As I said I have hundreds of these, I might post one or two more in the future , maybe on African music which seems popular and there’s many on individual artists. Plus there’s dozens of recorded interviews with artists.
    Meanwhile, back to reading and editing all the ‘notes’ I’ve turned up. Thanks.

  8. Panther: There’s a slight backstory to the DJ position.
    During all my life of collecting and listening to music there was always the thought of how these pieces might fit together in a radio program, it’s something I thought about a lot, I even created playlists of various musics. One day when I was retired I decided to visit the local radio station that I listened to, just out of curiosity. The program director was very welcoming and we sat in her office chatting about the station, the music etc. I told her about my involvement with reggae and jazz and blues etc and at some point she said that there was a position opening up for a midnight Saturday show, was I interested? Of Course!
    That’s how it started. Within my first few weeks I discovered that there was some conflict between her and the station manager, as I was preparing for my show he walked into the studio and grumpily said “What’s all that?” pointing at a large stack of vinyl that I’d brought. ‘That’s the music for my program’ I replied. ‘We don’t play LP’s here, we only play CD’s’ [even though they had two turntables wired into the board] I told him that the program director had OK’d it and he said ‘She doesn’t make those decisions, I do” So I went ahead with my show and about a week later he was gone! I don’t know under what circumstances.
    So if there’s a local radio station where you live you should pop in for a chat!

    • that’s pretty cool that you can just show up and get offered a show!

      The late 90s were a pretty bad time for vinyl, I think LPs would be more welcome now than back then……if it weren’t for the fact that all my records were unlistenable noise I might be in with a shot!!

      Oh well, will just have to keep subjecting you poor Spillers to my occasional missives….

  9. A nice trip down memory lane ! I knew about 1/2 of these from BITD, there really was something special about that era in Reggae.
    I kind of lost interest when the “Dancehall” styles took over in the 90s, must be my age.
    For me the 70s were unsurpassed.

  10. I finally had a chance to listen to these but did it as a radio show. So the children and I we built Lego, Duplo and PlayMobile sets, ate supper and got ready for bed while listening to this. The boys already like a lot of ska/rocksteady (as that’s what I have more of) but this went down very well. And Hi-Fidelity was excellent; “I will now sell five copies of “The Three EPs” by The Beta Band”.

    I would buy a book of your photographs and essays.


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