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Trojan Records film ready

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records, a documentary about the fabled British reggae company, premiers at the London Film Festival on October 12. The 86-minute film is directed by Nicolas Jack Davies.

According to a press release from the London Film Festival, Rudeboy is more than just music. It represents Trojan's legacy as a forerunner in exposing Jamaican music in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, when rocksteady and reggae were largely ignored by mainstream radio in that country.

“The seeds for the multicultural society we live in now were formed on the dancefloor back in the day,” says British punk/reggae authority Don Letts in the documentary's intro.

The film is part of year-long celebrations marking Trojan's golden anniversary. A book and multitrack album have also been released.

Trojan was actually founded in 1967 by Lee Gopthal, a Jamaican accountant who migrated to the UK in the early 1950s. The label helped introduce songs like Desmond Dekker and The Aces' (007) Shantytown and Israelites to white British fans, and followed up with a series of hits by Jimmy Cliff, Dandy Livingstone and Tony Tribe in the late 1960s.

By the 1970s only Island Records (once Trojan's parent company) was stronger in the UK reggae market than Gopthal's independent venture. Trojan distributed the music of major Jamaican artistes like John Holt whose 1000 Volts of Holt album was a massive seller; the company also helped push Ken Boothe's Everything I Own to number one on the British national chart in 1974.

Though a volume of compilation albums were popular throughout the UK, mismanagement led to Trojan going into liquidation by the mid-1970s. It was bought by different interests over the years including Saga Records and the Sancutary Records Group. It is currently owned by German company, BMG.

Gopthal had long left the music business when he died in 1997 at age 58.

Davies is the man behind Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records. He is known for his visual work with high-profile British acts acts such as PJ Harvey, Coldplay and Mumford & Sons.

Davies directed The Road To Red Rocks, a documentary that focused on Mumford & Sons' 2013 American tour. That documentary was nominated for Best Music Film at the 2014 Grammy Awards.