Jamaica Magazine

Stir It Up: Reggae Album Cover Art : Jamaican Book Review

Written by Staff Writer

About the Book
Stir It Up — Before the advent of music videos and CDs, album covers provided international audiences with a colorful invitation to the exotic, exciting world of Jamaican reggae. Stir It Up surveys this highly popular cover art, featuring rare and classic covers from the early ska era through the dancehall style of the ’80s. While the cover art frequently reflects serious political and religious preoccupations, reggae’s lighter  side comes through in pictorial tributes to American Westerns, steamy dances, and
smoke-wreathed spliffs. Interviews with the designers reveal the true stories behind Bob Marley’s outlawed scratch ‘n’ sniff cover for Kaya, the mysterious fingerprints
masquerading as Peter Tosh’s on Wanted: Dread or Alive, plus many more fascinating  anecdotes about some of reggae’s most powerful covers. These classic reggae albums  continue to sell as CD reissues and have had an amazing impact on musical styles from  punk to rave to hip-hop. A celebration of the vibrant spirit of reggae music and style, Stir It Up will be cherished by fans of reggae and popular music everywhere.

 

Reviews

Matt Stevens (Allentown, PA)
I live in a town that is devoid of diversified cultures. The art museum mainly displayes classical and modern paintings and the music scene is comprised of little more than college bar bands. Therefore I am rarely exposed to different cultures. While searching Amazon’s website, I discovered “Stir it Up” and was intrigued by the premise of the book. I decided to purchase “Stir it Up” and was amazed by how Morrow described a whole new sub-genre that was completely foriegn to me. Furthermore, I enjoyed how Morrow provided the reader with the proper tools to make intelligent and insightful interpretations to the symbolic and hidden meanings of the album covers. Thankfuly, due to “Stir it Up,” it was a whole new course in art appreciation.

Michael J. Mazza (Pittsburgh, PA USA)
“Stir It Up: Reggae Album Cover Art” is a fascinating collection of images. The art is accompanied by text written by Chris Morrow; Neville Garrick wrote the foreword.

The vibrant, full color illustrations reproduce reggae album cover art of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The cover art ranges from straightforward photographs of the Jamaican landscape and people to ambitious graphic designs. Many iconic images are featured: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (many times), the lion, the Star of David, marijuana plants, Che Guevera, and–of course–lots of dreadlocks. There are occasionally touches of satire and humor, such as a 1982 Prince Jammy cover spoofing the “Space Invaders” video game.

Artists whose covers are featured include Peter Tosh, Judy Mowatt, Black Uhuru, and the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers. In his foreword, Neville Garrick pays tribute to Marley, noting that he “is now regarded as the voice of the oppressed, regardless of their race, religion, or language.”

I myself know fairly little about Reggae music, but I was captivated by the striking images contained in this book. “Stir It Up” is a noteworthy achievement.

About the Author
Chris Morrow has been an avid collector of reggae vinyl since the late 1970s, traveling the globe in search of classic covers. He currently resides in the reggae oasis of Brooklyn, expanding his collection through his partnership in Soul on Top Records.

Where to Buy the Book
For more information, visit Amazon.com 

About the author

Staff Writer