Entertainment

Dancehall revisited

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 24, 2013    

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TROPICAL Jamaica seemed worlds apart from frigid Finland when Pekka Vuorinen and Terro Kaski first visited in 1983.

The Finns were blown away by the music and energy of the people.

Vuorinen was recently in the island promoting a revised edition of their book, Volcano Revisited: Kingston Dancehall Scene 1983.

"The population was somewhat large but everyone knew each other. Everyone seemed to be rushing somewhere and dancehall music blasted from almost every street corner," he recalled.

Kaski was the owner of several record shops in Finland and publisher of the quarterly reggae magazine, Cool Runnings. He died from a heart attack in 2001.

Vuorinen, 68, was co-editor and contributor to Cool Runnings. He has been a fan of Jamaican music for almost 40 years.

"I became a fan of dancehall music in the early 1980s but was a follower of reggae since the 1970s. Probably it was the adrenaline rush that it lets off inside of its listeners or the booming speaker boxes, but that was the time that I enjoyed dancehall music the most," he told the Jamaica Observer.

It was that obsession that inspired him and Kaski to write Volcano Revisited: Kingston Dancehall Scene 1983.

Among the artistes they met and interviewed at the Channel One studio were singers Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke, Al Campbell and Prince Far I. The latter was murdered days after they met.

They also spoke with Studio One veterans, singer Devon Russell, bass player Earl 'Bagga' Walker and keyboardist Jackie Mittoo.

According to Vuorinen, the dancehall scene was exploding.

"New sound system Volcano was giving tough competition to established sounds like Gemini, Black Scorpio, Killamanjaro and others. Junjo Lawes, the owner, had some of the best dub plates and a talented crew led by (deejay) Burro Banton and selector Danny Dread," Vuorinen said.

According to Vuorinen, after Channel One folded in the early 1980s, the sound of reggae changed with the emergence of the digital boom.

He says a lot has changed since he went to dances here 30 years ago.

"I have been to a few street dances since I have been here and everything is computerised. The speakers are much smaller and a laptop is what most of the music is being played from."

Vuorinen says while contemporary dancehall is played on Finnish radio, his countrymen are more receptive to sounds from the 1980s and early 1990s.

"In my opinion, the music of the 1980s and 1990s was really the very essence of dancehall music but music is really a revolving thing, so with time comes change," he said.

Volcano Revisted: Kingston Dancehall Scene 1983 can be purchased online.

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