Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rare 1982 BBC Documentary Traces Musical Youth Journey Back To Jamaica

I have nothing but great memories of Musical Youth and I distinctly remember being very excited to hear them played on American radio at exactly the same time that I was becoming totally obsessed with all things ska and reggae (Madness, The Police and UB40 were also getting some American radio play at the time which heartened me to no end).  Though my family didn't have MTV back in the early 80's (I got my fix at friend's houses), the video for 'Pass The Dutchie' (which was directed by Don Letts and became the first video by a Black musical act to appear on MTV) was bright and fun and it was hard not to like the band who despite their young age were actually playing their own instruments. While most everyone knows 'Pass the Dutchie' (even Homer Simpson referenced it in an episode of The Simpsons) few people have any idea what happened to the British-Jamaican kid group after their 1982 hit—or are aware that they were not just a pop novelty act but actual musicians who played all of their own instruments and wrote some of their own material (namely 'Youth Of Today' which is very catchy).

A very rare BBC documentary tracing the musical roots of the band at the height of their short lived fame has just become available. Its quite well done and traces the band on a spiritual and musical journey back to Jamaica (home of their immigrant parents) where they meet a number of early 80's reggae artists including  Eek A Mouse and cause hysteria during several open air concerts in Kingston. There are several touching moments in the documentary.  One of the members buys a copy of their single in a small Kingston record shop stall looking at it with wide eye wonder.  Later they explore the country side, swimming in the Ocean for the very first time in their lives.  The band record a song at King Tubby's Studio and meet family members still living in Jamaica closing the circle on the Kingston to Birmingham connection on a high note. Sadly, the band would disintegrate shortly after the trip enduring the death of one member and the imprisonment of another.