January 6, 2010
From Mick Sleeper, Broadcaster and Podcaster
You never miss your water until the well runs dry.
I must admit for the past few years I didn't follow The Beat as closely as I did 10-15 years ago when I was first discovering reggae. Now that it's gone, I've been leafing through my collection and definitely feel a sense of loss for this great magazine.
It might sound odd to be nostalgic about the 1990s and definitely weird to look back fondly on the 2000s, but just like the 1970s was the golden age for reggae, the 2000s were the golden age of reissues for those of us who were too young to hear reggae the first time. Obviously the "old guard" like my friends Roger Steffens and Doug Wendt first heard Jah music when it was still new and fresh; but there's a younger generation of fans who "felt no pain" when reggae hit us in the 1990s. Thanks to those three titans of reggae reissues, Blood & Fire, Pressure Sounds and Heartbeat, this amazing music was available all over again, rescued from vinyl oblivion, now with clean sound and historical context for those of us who were eager and curious.
Alongside the music, publications like The Beat steered me deeper into the uncharted waters of Jamaican music. Mike Turner's "Reggae Obsession" column was my favourite, but I always enjoyed Roger Steffens' jovial works and Chuck Foster's all encompassing reviews. Although The Beat was a world class publication, it always felt small and friendly. It came a long way from the initial photocopied pages to the slick and glossy magazine that was read around the world, but the blueprint remained the same, the obvious work of people with passion. I always wanted to write for The Beat, but never got around to submitting an article. Once again, I stand at the well and miss the water.And now? Like the man Max Romeo says, "it sipple out deh". Worldwide economic meltdown and the persistence of music pirates who think its their right to get anything they want for free have certainly put a severe strain on the industry. And yet, it's still a good time to be a reggae fan. The Internet is mostly Babylon business and yet I and I survive with podcasts and small, savvy labels using the Web to forward their music to a modern audience.
Congratulations to everyone at the Beat for all of their excellent work over the years and for carrying the torch as long as you did. Each one teach one. Who Jah bless, no man curse.